IF others who read this book get as much information as I did from the advance sheets, they will feel repaid a hundred times. It is perfectly delightful to take advantage of the conscientious labors of those who go through and through volume after volume, divide with infinite patience the gold from the dross, and present us with the pure and shining coin. Such men may be likened to bees who save us numberless journeys by giving us the fruit of their own.

While this book will greatly add to the information of all who read it, it may not increase the happiness of some to find that Swedenborg was really insane. But when they remember that he was raised by a bishop, and disappointed in love, they will cease to wonder at his mental condition. Certainly an admixture of theology and “dis-prized love” is often sufficient to compel reason to abdicate the throne of the mightiest soul.

The trouble with Swedenborg was that he changed realities into dreams, and then out of the dreams made facts upon which he built, and with which he constructed his system.

He regarded all realities as shadows cast by ideas. To him the material was the unreal, and things were definitions of the ideas of God. He seemed to think that he had made a discovery when he found that ideas were back of words, and that language had a subjective as well as an objective origin; that is that the interior meaning had been clothed upon. Of course, a man capable of drawing the conclusion that natural reason cannot harmonize with spiritual truth because in a dream, he had seen a beetle that could not use its feet, is capable of any absurdity of which the imagination can conceive. The fact is, that Swedenborg believed the Bible. That was his misfortune. His mind had been overpowered by the bishop, but the woman had not utterly destroyed his heart. He was shocked by the liberal interpretation of the Scriptures, and sought to avoid the difficulty by giving new meanings consistent with the decency and goodness of God. He pointed out a way to preserve the old Bible with a new interpretation. In this way Infidelity could be avoided; and, in his day, that was almost a necessity. Had Swedenborg taken the ground that the Bible was not inspired, the ears of the world would have been stopped. His readers believed in the dogma of inspiration, and asked, not how to destroy the Scriptures, but for some way in which they might be preserved. He and his followers unconsciously rendered immense service to the cause of intellectual enfranchisement by their efforts to show the necessity of giving new meanings to the barbarous laws, and cruel orders of Jehovah. For this purpose they attacked with great fury the literal text, taking the ground that if the old interpretation was right, the Bible was the work of savage men. They heightened in every way the absurdities, cruelties and contradictions of the Scriptures for the purpose of showing that a new interpretation must be found, and that the way pointed out by Swedenborg was the only one by which the Bible could be saved.

Great men are, after all the instrumentalities of their time. The heart of the civilized world was beginning to revolt at the cruelties ascribed to God, and was seeking for some interpretation of the Bible that kind and loving people could accept. The method of interpretation found by Swedenborg was suitable for all. Each was permitted to construct his own “science of correspondence” and gather such fruits as he might prefer. In this way the ravings of revenge can instantly be changed to mercy’s melting tones, and murder’s dagger to a smile of love. In this way and in no other, can we explain the numberless mistakes and crimes ascribed to God. Thousands of most excellent people, afraid to throw away the idea of inspiration, hailed with joy a discovery that allowed them to write a Bible for themselves.

But, whether Swedenborg was right or not, every man who reads a book, necessarily gets from that book all that he is capable of receiving. Every man who walks in the forest, or gathers a flower, or looks at a picture, or stands by the sea, gets all the intellectual wealth he is capable of receiving. What the forest, the flower, the picture or the sea is to him, depends upon his mind, and upon the stage of development he has reached. So that after all, the Bible must be a different book to each person who reads it, as the revelations of nature depend upon the individual to whom they are revealed, or by whom they are discovered. And the extent of the revelation or discovery depends absolutely upon the intellectual and moral development of the person to whom, or by whom, the revelation or discovery is made. So that the Bible cannot be the same to any two people, but each one must necessarily interpret it for himself. Now, the moment the doctrine is established that we can give to this book such meanings as are consistent with our highest ideals; that we can treat the old words as purses or old stockings in which to put our gold, then, each one will, in effect, make a new inspired Bible for himself, and throw the old away. If his mind is narrow, if he has been raised by ignorance and nursed by fear, he will believe in the literal truth of what he reads. If he has a little courage he will doubt, and the doubt will with new interpretations modify the literal text; but if his soul is free he will with scorn reject it all.

Swedenborg did one thing for which I feel almost grateful. He gave an account of having met John Calvin in hell. Nothing connected with the supernatural could be more perfectly natural than this. The only thing detracting from the value of this report is, that if there is a hell, we know without visiting the place that John Calvin must be there.

All honest founders of religions have been the dreamers of dreams, the sport of insanity, the prey of visions, the deceivers of others and of themselves. All will admit that Swedenborg was a man of great intellect, of vast acquirements and of honest intentions; and I think it equally clear that upon one subject, at least, his mind was touched, shattered and shaken.

Misled by analogies, imposed upon by the bishop, deceived by the woman, borne to other worlds upon the wings of dreams, living in the twilight of reason and the dawn of insanity, he regarded every fact as a patched and ragged garment with a lining of the costliest silk, and insisted that the wrong side, even of the silk, was far more beautiful than the right.

Herbert Spencer is almost the opposite of Swedenborg. He relies upon evidence, upon demonstration, upon experience, and occupies himself with one world at a time. He perceives that there is a mental horizon that we cannot pierce, and that beyond that is the unknown—possibly the unknowable. He endeavors to examine only that which is capable of being examined, and considers the theological method as not only useless, but hurtful. After all, God is but a guess, throned and established by arrogance and assertion. Turning his attention to those things that have in some way affected the condition of mankind, Spencer leaves the unknowable to priests and to the believers in the “moral government” of the world. He sees only natural causes and natural results, and seeks to induce man to give up gazing into void and empty space, that he may give his entire attention to the world in which he lives. He sees that right and wrong do not depend upon the arbitrary will of even an infinite being, but upon the nature of things; that they are relations, not entities, and that they cannot exist, so far as we know, apart from human experience.

It may be that men will finally see that selfishness and self-sacrifice are both mistakes; that the first devours itself; that the second is not demanded by the good, and that the bad are unworthy of it. It may be that our race has never been, and never will be, deserving of a martyr. Sometime we may see that justice is the highest possible form of mercy and love, and that all should not only be allowed, but compelled to reap exactly what they sow; that industry should not support idleness, and that they who waste the spring and summer and autumn of their lives should bear the winter when it comes. The fortunate should assist the victims of accident; the strong should defend the weak, and the intellectual should lead, with loving hands, the mental poor; but Justice should remove the bandage from her eyes long enough to distinguish between the vicious and the unfortunate.

Mr. Spencer is wise enough to declare that “acts are called good or bad according as they are well or ill adjusted to ends;” and he might have added, that ends are good or bad according as they affect the happiness of mankind.

It would be hard to over-estimate the influence of this great man. From an immense intellectual elevation he has surveyed the world of thought. He has rendered absurd the idea of special providence, born of the egotism of savagery. He has shown that the “will of God” is not a rule for human conduct; that morality is not a cold and heartless tyrant; that by the destruction of the individual will, a higher life cannot be reached, and that after all, an intelligent love of self extends the hand of help and kindness to all the human race.

But had it not been for such men as Thomas Paine, Herbert Spencer could not have existed for a century to come. Some one had to lead the way, to raise the standard of revolt, and draw the sword of war. Thomas Paine was a natural revolutionist. He was opposed to every government existing in his day. Next to establishing a wise and just republic based upon the equal rights of man, the best thing that can be done is to destroy a monarchy.

Paine had a sense of justice, and had imagination enough to put himself in the place of the oppressed. He had, also, what in these pages is so felicitously expressed, “a haughty intellectual pride, and a willingness to pit his individual thought against the clamor of a world.”

I cannot believe that he wrote the letters of “Junius,” although the two critiques combined in this volume, entitled “Paine” and “Junius,” make by far the best argument upon that subject I have ever read. First, Paine could have had no personal hatred against the men so bitterly assailed by Junius. Second, He knew, at that time, but little of English politicians, and certainly had never associated with men occupying the highest positions, and could not have been personally acquainted with the leading statesmen of England. Third., He was not an unjust man. He was neither a coward, a calumniator, nor a sneak. All these delightful qualities must have lovingly united in the character of Junius. Fourth, Paine could have had no reason for keeping the secret after coming to America.

I have always believed that Junius, after having written his letters, accepted office from the very men he had maligned, and at last became a pensioner of the victims of his slander. “Had he as many mouths as Hydra, such a course must have closed them all.” Certainly the author must have kept the secret to prevent the loss of his reputation.

It cannot be denied that the style of Junius is much like that of Paine. Should it be established that Paine wrote the letters of Junius, it would not, in my judgment, add to his reputation as a writer. Regarded as literary efforts they cannot be compared with “Common Sense,” “The Crisis,” or “The Rights of Man.”

The claim that Paine was the real author of the Declaration of Independence is much better founded. I am inclined to think that he actually wrote it; but whether this is true or not, every idea contained in it had been written by him long before. It is now claimed that the original document is in Paine’s handwriting. It certainly is not in Jefferson’s. Certain it is, that Jefferson could not have written anything so manly, so striking, so comprehensive, so clear, so convincing, and so faultless in rhetoric and rhythm as the Declaration of Independence.

Paine was the first man to write these words, “The United States of America.” He was the first great champion of absolute separation from England. He was the first to urge the adoption of a Federal Constitution; and, more clearly than any other man of his time, he perceived the future greatness of this country.

He has been blamed for his attack on Washington. The truth is, he was in prison in France. He had committed the crime of voting, against the execution of the king It was the grandest act of his life, but at that time to be merciful was criminal. Paine; being an American citizen, asked Washington, then President, to say a word to Robespierre in his behalf. Washington remained silent. In the calmness of power, the serenity, of fortune, Washington the President, read the request of Paine, the prisoner, and with the complacency of assured fame, consigned to the wastebasket of forgetfulness the patriot’s cry for help.

     “Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his back,

     Wherein he puts alms for oblivion,

     A great-sized monster of ingratitudes.

     Those scraps are good deeds past, which are devour’d

     As fast as they are made, forgot as soon

     As done.”

In this controversy, my sympathies are with the prisoner.

Paine did more to free the mind, to destroy the power of ministers and priests in the New World, than any other man. In order to answer his arguments, the churches found it necessary to attack his character. There was a general resort to falsehood. In trying to destroy the reputation of Paine, the churches have demoralized themselves. Nearly every minister has been a willing witness against the truth. Upon the grave of Thomas Paine, the churches of America have sacrificed their honor. The influence of the Hero author increases every day, and there are more copies of the “Age of Reason” sold in the United States, than of any work written in defence of the Christian religion. Hypocrisy, with its forked tongue, its envious and malignant heart, lies coiled upon the memory of Paine, ready to fasten its poisonous fangs in the reputation of any man who dares defend the great and generous dead.

Leaving the dust and glory of revolutions, let us spend a moment of quiet with Adam Smith. I was glad to find that a man’s ideas upon the subject of protection and free trade depend almost entirely upon the country in which he lives, or the business in which he happens to be engaged, and that, after all, each man regards the universe as a circumference of which he is the center. It gratified me to learn that even Adam Smith was no exception to this rule, and that he regarded all “protection as a hurtful and ignorant interference,” except when exercised for the good of Great Britain. Owing to the fact that his nationality quarreled with his philosophy, he succeeded in writing a book that is quoted with equal satisfaction by both parties. The protectionists rely upon the exceptions he made for England, and the free traders upon the doctrines laid down for other countries.

He seems to have reasoned upon the question of money precisely as we have, of late years, in the United States; and he has argued both sides equally well. Poverty asks for inflation. Wealth is conservative, and always says there is money enough.

Upon the question of money, this volume contains the best thing I have ever read: “The only mode of procuring the service of others, on any large scale, in the absence of money, is by force, which is slavery. Money, by constituting a medium in which the smallest services can be paid for, substitutes wages for the lash, and renders the liberty of the individual consistent with the maintenance and support of society.” There is more philosophy in that one paragraph than Adam Smith expresses in his whole work. It may truthfully be said, that without money, liberty is impossible. No one, whatever his views may be, can read the article on Adam Smith without profit and delight.

The discussion of the money question is in every respect admirable, and is as candid as able. The world will sooner or later learn that there is nothing miraculous in finance; that money is a real and tangible thing, a product of labor, serving not merely as a medium of exchange but as a basis of credit as well; that it cannot be created by an act of the Legislature; that dreams cannot be coined, and that only labor, in some form, can put, upon the hand of want, Alladin’s magic ring.

Adam Smith wrote upon the wealth of nations, while Charles Fourier labored for the happiness of mankind. In this country, few seem to understand communism. While here, it may be regarded as vicious idleness, armed with the assassin’s knife and the incendiary’s torch, in Europe, it is a different thing. There, it is a reaction from Feudalism. Nobility is communism in its worst possible form. Nothing can be worse than for idleness to eat the bread of industry. Communism in Europe is not the “stand and deliver” of the robber, but the protest of the robbed. Centuries ago, kings and priests, that is to say, thieves and hypocrites, divided Europe among themselves. Under this arrangement, the few were masters and the many slaves. Nearly every government in the Old World rests upon simple brute force. It is hard for the many to understand why the few should own the soil. Neither can they clearly see why they should give their brain and blood to those who steal their birthright and their bread. It has occurred to them that they who do the most should not receive the least, and that, after all, an industrious peasant is of far more value to the world than a vain and idle king.

The Communists of France, blinded as they were, made the Republic possible. Had they joined with their countrymen, the invaders would have been repelled, and some Napoleon would still have occupied the throne. Socialism perceives that Germany has been enslaved by victory, while France found liberty in defeat. In Russia the Nihilists prefer chaos to the government of the bayonet, Siberia and the knout, and these intrepid men have kept upon the coast of despotism one beacon fire of hope.

As a matter of fact, every society is a species of communism—a kind of co-operation in which selfishness, in spite of itself, benefits the community. Every industrious man adds to the wealth, not only of his nation, but to that of the world. Every inventor increases human power, and every sculptor, painter and poet adds to the value of human life. Fourier, touched by the sufferings of the poor as well as by the barren joys of hoarded wealth, and discovering the vast advantages of combined effort, and the immense economy of co-operation, sought to find some way for men to help themselves by helping each other. He endeavored to do away with monopoly and competition, and to ascertain some method by which the sensuous, the moral, and the intellectual passions of man could be gratified.

For my part I can place no confidence in any system that does away, or tends to do away, with the institution of marriage. I can conceive of no civilization of which the family must not be the unit.

Societies cannot be made; they must grow. Philosophers may predict, but they cannot create. They may point out as many ways as they please; but after all, humanity will travel in paths of its own.

Fourier sustained about the same relation to this world that Swedenborg did to the other. There must be something wrong about the brain of one who solemnly asserts that, “the elephant, the ox and the diamond, were created by the sun; the horse, the lily and the ruby, by Saturn; the cow, the jonquil and the topaz by Jupiter; and the dog, the violet and the opal stones by the earth itself.”

And yet, forgetting these aberrations of the mind, this lunacy of a great and loving soul, for one, I hold in tender-est regard the memory of Charles Fourier, one of the best and noblest of our race.

While Fourier was in his cradle, Jeremy Bentham, who read history when three years old, played on the violin at five, “and at fifteen detected the fallacies of Blackstone,” was demonstrating that the good was the useful; that a thing was right because it paid in the highest and best sense; that utility was the basis of morals; that without allowing interest to be paid upon money commerce could not exist; and that the object of all human governments should be to secure the greatest happiness of the greatest number. He read Hume and Helvetius, threw away the Thirty-nine Articles, and endeavored to impress upon the English Law the fact that its ancestor was a feudal savage. He held the past in contempt, hated Westminster and despised Oxford. He combated the idea that governments were originally founded on contract. Locke and Blackstone talked as though men originally lived apart, and formed societies by agreement. These writers probably imagined that at one time the trees were separated like telegraph poles, and finally came together and made groves by agreement. I believe that it was Pufendorf who said that slavery was originally founded on contract. To which Voltaire replied:—”If my lord Pufendorf will produce the original contract signed by the party who was to be the slave, I will admit the truth of his statement.”

A contract back of society is a myth manufactured by those in power to serve as a title to place, and to impress the multitude with the idea that they are, in some mysterious way, bound, fettered, and even benefited by its terms.

The glory of Bentham is, that he gave the true basis of morals, and furnished statesmen with the star and compass of this sentence:—”The greatest happiness of the greatest number.”

Most scientists have deferred to the theologians. They have admitted that some questions could not, at present, be solved. These admissions have been thankfully received by the clergy, who have always begged for some curtain to be left, behind which their God could still exist. Men calling themselves “scientific” have tried to harmonize the “apparent” discrepancies between the Bible and the other works of Jehovah. In this way they have made reputations. They were at once quoted by the ministers as wonderful examples of piety and learning. These men discounted the future that they might enjoy the ignorant praise of the present. Agassiz preferred the applause of Boston, while he lived, to the reverence of a world after he was dead. Small men appear great only when they agree with the multitude.

The last Scientific Congress in America was opened with prayer. Think of a science that depends upon the efficacy of words addressed to the Unknown and Unknowable!

In our country, most of the so-called scientists are professors in sectarian colleges, in which Moses is considered a geologist, and Joshua an astronomer. For the most part their salaries depend upon the ingenuity with which they can explain away facts and dodge demonstration.

The situation is about the same in England. When Mr. Huxley saw fit to attack the Mosaic account of the creation, he did not deem it advisable to say plainly what he meant. He attacked the account of creation as given by Milton, although he knew that the Mosaic and Miltonic were substantially the same. Science has acted like a guest without a wedding garment, and has continually apologized for existing. In the presence of arrogant absurdity, overawed by the patronizing airs of a successful charlatan, it has played the role of a “poor relation,” and accepted, while sitting below the salt, insults as honors.

There can be no more pitiable sight than a scientist in the employ of superstition dishonoring himself without assisting his master. But there are a multitude of brave and tender men who give their honest thoughts, who are true to nature, who give the facts and let consequences shirk for themselves, who know the value and meaning of a truth, and who have bravely tried the creeds by scientific tests.

Among the bravest, side by side with the greatest of the world, in Germany, the land of science, stands Ernst Haeckel, who may be said to have not only demonstrated the theories of Darwin, but the Monistic conception of the world. Rejecting all the puerile ideas of a personal Creator, he has had the courage to adopt the noble words of Bruno:—”A spirit exists in all things, and no body is so small but it contains a part of the divine substance within itself, by which it is animated.” He has endeavored—and I think with complete success—to show that there is not, and never was, and never can be the Creator of anything. There is no more a personal Creator than there is a personal destroyer. Matter and force must have existed from eternity, all generation must have been spontaneous, and the simplest organisms must have been the ancestors of the most perfect and complex.

Haeckel is one of the bitterest enemies of the church, and is, therefore, one of the bravest friends of man.

Catholicism was, at one time, the friend of education—of an education sufficient to make a Catholic out of a barbarian. Protestantism was also in favor of education—of an education sufficient to make a Protestant out of a Catholic. But now, it having been demonstrated that real education will make Freethinkers, Catholics and Protestants both are the enemies of true learning.

In all countries where human beings are held in bondage, it is a crime to teach a slave to read and write. Masters know that education is an abolitionist, and theologians know that science is the deadly foe of every creed in Christendom.

In the age of Faith, a personal god stood at the head of every department of ignorance, and was supposed to be the King of kings, the rewarder and punisher of individuals, and the governor of nations.

The worshipers of this god have always regarded the men in love with simple facts, as Atheists in disguise. And it must be admitted that nothing is more Atheistic than a fact. Pure science is necessarily godless, It is incapable of worship. It investigates, and cannot afford to shut its eyes even long enough to pray. There was a time when those who disputed the divine right of kings were denounced as blasphemous; but the time came when liberty demanded that a personal god should be retired from politics. In our country this was substantially done in 1776, when our fathers declared that all power to govern came from the consent of the governed. The cloud-theory was abandoned, and one government has been established for the benefit of mankind. Our fathers did not keep God out of the Constitution from principle, but from jealousy. Each church, in colonial times, preferred to live in single blessedness rather than see some rival wedded to the state. Mutual hatred planted our tree of religious liberty. A constitution without a god has at last given us a nation without a slave.

A personal god sustains the same relation to religion as to politics. The Deity is a master, and man a serf; and this relation is inconsistent with true progress. The Universe ought to be a pure democracy—an infinite republic without a tyrant and without a chain.

Auguste Comte endeavored to put humanity in the place of Jehovah, and no conceivable change can be more desirable than this. This great man did not, like some of his followers, put a mysterious something called law in the place of God, which is simply giving the old master a new name. Law is this side of phenomena, not the other. It is not the cause, neither is it the result of phenomena. The fact of succession and resemblance, that is to say, the same thing happening under the same conditions, is all we mean by law. No one can conceive of a law existing apart from matter, or controlling matter, any more than he can understand the eternal procession of the Holy Ghost, or motion apart from substance. We are beginning to see that law does not, and cannot exist as an entity, but that it is only a conception of the mind to express the fact that the same entities, under the same conditions, produce the same results. Law does not produce the entities, the conditions, or the results, or even the sameness of the results. Neither does it affect the relations of entities, nor the result of such relations, but it stands simply for the fact that the same causes, under the same conditions, eternally have produced and eternally will produce the same results.

The metaphysicians are always giving us explanations of phenomena which are as difficult to understand as the phenomena they seek to explain; and the believers in God establish their dogmas by miracles, and then substantiate the miracles by assertion.

The Designer of the teleologist, the First Cause of the religious philosopher, the Vital Force of the biologist, and the law of the half-orthodox scientist, are all the shadowy children of ignorance and fear.

The Universe is all there is. It is both subject and object; contemplator and contemplated; creator and created; destroyer and destroyed; preserver and preserved; and within itself are all causes, modes, motions and effects.

Unable in some things to rise above the superstitions of his day, Comte adopted not only the machinery, but some of the prejudices, of Catholicism. He made the mistake of Luther. He tried to reform the Church of Rome. Destruction is the only reformation of which that church is capable. Every religion is based upon a misconception, not only of the cause of phenomena, but of the real object of life; that is to say, upon falsehood; and the moment the truth is known and understood, these religions must fall. In the field of thought, they are briers, thorns, and noxious weeds; on the shores of intellectual discovery, they are sirens, and in the forests that the brave thinkers are now penetrating, they are the wild beasts, fanged and monstrous.

You cannot reform these weeds. Sirens cannot be changed into good citizens; and such wild beasts, even when tamed, are of no possible use. Destruction is the only remedy. Reformation is a hospital where the new philosophy exhausts its strength nursing the old religion.

There was, in the brain of the great Frenchman, the dawn of that happy day in which humanity will be the only religion, good the only god, happiness the only object, restitution the only atonement, mistake the only sin, and affection, guided by intelligence, the only savior of mankind. This dawn enriched his poverty, illuminated the darkness of his life, peopled his loneliness with the happy millions yet to be, and filled his eyes with proud and tender tears.

A few years ago I asked the superintendent of Pere La Chaise if he knew where I could find the tomb of Auguste Comte. He had never heard even the name of the author of the “Positive Philosophy.” I asked him if he had ever heard of Napoleon Bonaparte. In a half-insulted tone, he replied, “Of course I have, why do you ask me such a question?” “Simply,” was my answer, “that I might have the opportunity of saying, that when everything connected with Napoleon, except his crimes, shall have been forgotten, Auguste Comte will be lovingly remembered as a benefactor of the human race.”

The Jewish God must be dethroned! A personal Deity must go back to the darkness of barbarism from whence he came. The theologians must abdicate, and popes, priests, and clergymen, labeled as “extinct species,” must occupy the mental museums of the future.

In my judgment, this book, filled with original thought, will hasten the coming of that blessed time.

Washington, D. C., Nov. 29,1879.


THIS book, written by a brave and honest man, is filled with brave and honest thoughts. The arguments it presents can not be answered by all the theologians in the world. The author is convinced that the universe is natural, that man is naturally produced, and that there is a necessary relation between character and brain. He sees, and clearly sees, that the theological explanation of phenomena is only a plausible absurdity, and, at best, as great a mystery as it tries to solve. I thank the man who breaks, or tries to break, the chains of custom, creed, and church, and gives in plain, courageous words, the product of his brain.

It is almost impossible to investigate any subject without somewhere touching the religious prejudices of ourselves or others. Most people judge of the truth of a proposition by the consequences upon some preconceived opinion. Certain things they take as truths, and with this little standard in their minds, they measure all other theories. If the new facts do not agree with the standard, they are instantly thrown away, because it is much easier to dispose of the new facts than to reconstruct an entire philosophy.

A few years ago, when men began to say that character could be determined by the form, quantity, and quality of the brain, the religious world rushed to the conclusion that this fact might destroy what they were pleased to call the free moral agency of man. They admitted that all things in the physical world were links in the infinite chain of causes and effects, and that not one atom of the material universe could, by any possibility, be entirely exempt from the action of every other. They insisted that, if the motions of the spirit—the thoughts, dreams, and conclusions of the brain, were as necessarily produced as stones and stars, virtue became necessity, and morality the result of forces capable of mathematical calculation. In other words, they insisted that, while there were causes for all material phenomena, a something called the Will sat enthroned above all law, and dominated the phenomena of the intellectual world. They insisted that man was free; that he controlled his brain; that he was responsible for thought as well as action; that the intellectual world of each man was a universe in which his will was king. They were afraid that phrenology might, in some way, interfere with the scheme of salvation, or prevent the eternal torment of some erring soul.

It is insisted that man is free, and is responsible, because he knows right from wrong. But the compass does not navigate the ship; neither does it, in any way, of itself, determine the direction that is taken. When winds and waves are too powerful, the compass is of no importance. The pilot may read it correctly, and may know the direction the ship ought to take, but the compass is not a force. So men, blown by the tempests of passion, may have the intellectual conviction that they should go another way; but, of what use, of what force, is the conviction?

Thousands of persons have gathered curious statistics for the purpose of showing that man is absolutely dominated by his surroundings. By these statistics is discovered what is called “the law of average.” They show that there are about so many suicides in London every year, so many letters misdirected at Paris, so many men uniting themselves In marriage with women older than themselves in Belgium, so many burglaries to one murder in France, or so many persons driven insane by religion in the United States. It is asserted that these facts conclusively show that man is acted upon; that behind each thought, each dream, is the efficient cause, and that the doctrine of moral responsibility has been destroyed by statistics.

But, does the fact that about so many crimes are committed on the average, in a given population, or that so many any things are done, prove that there is no freedom in human action?

Suppose a population of ten thousand persons; and suppose, further, that they are free, and that they have the usual wants of mankind. Is it not reasonable to say that they would act in some way? They certainly would take measures to obtain food, clothing, and shelter. If these people differed in intellect, in surroundings, in temperament, in strength, it is reasonable to suppose that all would not be equally successful. Under such circumstances, may we not safely infer that, in a little while, if the statistics were properly taken, a law of average would appear? In other words, free people would act; and, being different in mind, body, and circumstances, would not all act exactly alike. All would not be alike acted upon. The deviations from what might be thought wise, or right, would sustain such a relation to time and numbers that they could be expressed by a law of average.

If this is true, the law of average does not establish necessity.

But, in my supposed case, the people, after all, are not free. They have wants. They are under the necessity of feeding, clothing, and sheltering themselves. To the extent of their actual wants, they are not free. Every limitation is a master. Every finite being is a prisoner, and no man has ever yet looked above or beyond the prison walls.

Our highest conception of liberty is to be free from the dictation of fellow prisoners.

To the extent that we have wants, we are not free. To the extent that we do not have wants, we do not act.

If we are responsible for our thoughts, we ought not only to know how they are formed, but we ought to form them. If we are the masters of our own minds, we ought to be able to tell what we are going to think at any future time. Evidently, the food of thought—its very warp and woof—is furnished through the medium of the senses. If we open our eyes, we cannot help seeing. If we do not stop our ears, we cannot help hearing. If anything touches us, we feel it. The heart beats in spite of us. The lungs supply themselves with air without our knowledge. The blood pursues its old accustomed rounds, and all our senses act without our leave. As the heart beats, so the brain thinks. The will is not its king. As the blood flows, as the lungs expand, as the eyes see, as the ears hear, as the flesh is sensitive to touch, so the brain thinks.

I had a dream, in which I debated a question with a friend. I thought to myself: “This is a dream, and yet I can not tell what my opponent is going to say. Yet, if it is a dream, I am doing the thinking for both sides, and therefore ought to know in advance what my friend will urge.” But, in a dream, there is some one who seems to talk to us. Our own brain tells us news, and presents an unexpected thought. Is it not possible that each brain is a field where all the senses sow the seeds of thought? Some of these fields are mostly barren, poor, and hard, producing only worthless weeds; and some grow sturdy oaks and stately palms; and some are like the tropic world, where plants and trees and vines seem royal children of the soil and sun.

Nothing seems more certain than that the capacity of a human being depends, other things being equal, upon the amount, form, and quality of his brain. We also know that health, disposition, temperament, occupation, food, surroundings, ancestors, quality, form, and texture of the brain, determine what we call character. Man is, collectively and individually, what his surroundings have made him. Nations differ from each other as greatly as individuals in the same nation. Nations depend upon soil, climate, geographical position, and countless other facts. Shakespeare would have been impossible without the climate of England. There is a direct relation between Hamlet and the Gulf Stream. Dr. Draper has shown that the great desert of Sahara made negroes possible in Africa. If the Caribbean Sea had been a desert, negroes might have been produced in America.

Are the effects of climate upon man necessary effects? Is it possible for man to escape them? Is he responsible for what he does as a consequence of his surroundings? Is the mind dependent upon causes? Does it act without cause? Is every thought a necessity? Can man choose without reference to any quality in the thing chosen?

No one will blame Mr. Brown or Mr. Jones for not writing like Shakespeare. Should they be blamed for not acting like Christ? We say that a great painter has genius. Is it not possible that a certain genius is required to be what is called “good”? All men cannot be great. All men cannot be successful. Can all men be kind? Can all men be honest?

It may be that a crime appears terrible in proportion as we realize its consequences. If this is true, morality may depend largely upon the imagination. Man cannot have imagination at will; that, certainly, is a natural product. And yet, a man’s action may depend largely upon the want of imagination. One man may feel that he really wishes to kill another. He may make preparations to commit the deed; and yet, his imagination may present such pictures of horror and despair; he may so vividly see the widow clasping the mangled corpse; he may so plainly hear the cries and sobs of orphans, while the clods fall upon the coffin, that his hand is stayed. Another, lacking imagination, thirsting only for revenge, seeing nothing beyond the accomplishment of the deed, buries, with blind-and thoughtless hate, the dagger in his victim’s heart.

Morality, for the most part, is the verdict of the majority. This verdict depends upon the intelligence of the people; and the intelligence depends upon the amount, form, and quality of the average brain.

If the mind depends upon certain organs for the expression of its thought, does it have thought independently of those organs? Is there any mind without brain? Does the mind think apart from the brain, and then express its thought through the instrumentality of the brain? Theologians tell us that insanity is not a disease of the soul, but of the brain; that the soul is perfectly untouched; but that the instrument with which, and through which, it manifests itself, is impaired. The fact, however, seems to be, that the mind, the something that is the man, is unconscious of the fact that anything is out of order in the brain. Insane people insist that they are sane.

If we should find a locomotive off the track, and the engineer using the proper appliances to put it back, we would say that the machine is out of order, but the engineer is not. But, if we found the locomotive upside down, with wheels in air, and the engineer insisting that it was on the track, and never running better, we would then conclude that something was wrong, not only with the locomotive, but with the engineer.

We are told in medical books of a girl, who, at about the age of nine years, was attacked with some cerebral disease. When she recovered, she had forgotten all she ever knew, and had to relearn the alphabet, and the names of her parents and kindred. In this abnormal state, she was not a good girl; in the normal state, she was. After having lived in the second state for several years, she went back to the first; and all she had learned in the second state was forgotten, and all she had learned in the first was remembered.

I believe she changed once more, and died in the abnormal state. In which of these states was she responsible? Were her thoughts and actions as free in one as in the other? It may be contended that, in her diseased state, the mind or soul could not correctly express itself. If this is so, it follows that, as no one is perfectly healthy, and as no one has a perfect brain, it is impossible that the soul should ever correctly express itself. Is the soul responsible for the defects of the brain? Is it not altogether more rational to say, that what we call mind depends upon the brain, and that the child—mind, inherits the defects of its parent—brain?

Are certain physical conditions necessary to the production of what we call virtuous actions? Is it possible for anything to be produced without what we call cause, and, if the cause was sufficient, was it not necessarily produced? Do not most people mistake for freedom the right to examine their own chains? If morality depends upon conditions, should it not be the task of the great and good to discover such conditions? May it not be possible so to understand the brain that we can stop producing criminals?

It may be insisted that there is something produced by the brain besides thought—a something that takes cognizance of thoughts—a something that weighs, compares, reflects and pronounces judgment. This something cannot find the origin of itself. Does it exist independently of the brain? Is it merely a looker-on? If it is a product of the brain, then its power, perception, and judgment depend upon the quantity, form, and quality of the brain.

Man, including all his attributes, must have been necessarily produced, and the product was the child of conditions.

Most reformers have infinite confidence in creeds, resolutions, and laws. They think of the common people as raw material, out of which they propose to construct institutions and governments, like mechanical contrivances, where each person will stand for a cog, rope, wheel, pulley, bolt, or fuel, and the reformers will be the managers and directors. They forget that these cogs and wheels have opinions of their own; that they fall out with other cogs, and refuse to turn with other wheels; that the pulleys and ropes have ideas peculiar to themselves, and delight in mutiny and revolution. These reformers have theories that can only be realized when other people have none.

Some time, it will be found that people can be changed only by changing their surroundings. It is alleged that, at least ninety-five per cent. of the criminals transported from England to Australia and other penal colonies, became good and useful citizens in a new world. Free from former associates and associations, from the necessities of a hard, cruel, and competitive civilization, they became, for the most part, honest people. This immense fact throws more light upon social questions than all the theories of the world. All people are not able to support themselves. They lack intelligence, industry, cunning—in short, capacity. They are continually falling by the way. In the midst of plenty, they are hungry. Larceny is born of want and opportunity. In passion’s storm, the will is wrecked upon the reefs and rocks of crime.

The complex, tangled web of thought and dream, of perception and memory, of imagination and judgment, of wish and will and want—the woven wonder of a life—has never yet been raveled back to simple threads.

Shall we not become charitable and just, when we know that every act is but condition’s fruit; that Nature, with her countless hands, scatters the seeds of tears and crimes—of every virtue and of every joy; that all the base and vile are victims of the Blind, and that the good and great have, in the lottery of life, by chance or fate, drawn heart and brain?

Washington, December 21, 1881.


NOTHING gives me more pleasure, nothing gives greater promise for the future, than the fact that woman is achieving intellectual and physical liberty.

It is refreshing to know that here, in our country, there are thousands of women who think, and express their thoughts—who are thoroughly free and thoroughly conscientious—who have neither been narrowed nor corrupted by a heartless creed—who do not worship a being in heaven whom they would shudderingly loathe on earth—women who do not stand before the altar of a cruel faith, with downcast eyes of timid acquiescence, and pay to impudent authority the tribute of a thoughtless yes. They are no longer satisfied with being told. They examine for themselves. They have ceased to be the prisoners of society—the satisfied serfs of husbands, or the echoes of priests. They demand the rights that naturally belong to intelligent human beings. If wives, they wish to be the equals of husbands. If mothers, they wish to rear their children in the atmosphere of love, liberty and philosophy. They believe that woman can discharge all her duties without the aid of superstition, and preserve all that is true, pure, and tender, without sacrificing in the temple of absurdity the convictions of the soul.

Woman is not the intellectual inferior of man. She has lacked, not mind, but opportunity. In the long night of barbarism, physical strength and the cruelty to use it, were the badges of superiority. Muscle was more than mind. In the ignorant age of Faith, the loving nature of woman was abused. Her conscience was rendered morbid and diseased. It might almost be said that she was betrayed by her own virtues. At best she secured, not opportunity, but flattery—the preface to degradation. She was deprived of liberty, and without that, nothing is worth the having. She was taught to obey without question, and to believe without thought. There were universities for men before the alphabet had been taught to women. At the intellectual feast, there were no places for wives and mothers. Even now they sit at the second table and eat the crusts and crumbs. The schools for women, at the present time, are just far enough behind those for men, to fall heirs to the discarded; on the same principle that when a doctrine becomes too absurd for the pulpit, it is given to the Sunday-school.

The ages of muscle and miracle—of fists and faith—are passing away. Minerva occupies at last a higher niche than Hercules. Now a word is stronger than a blow. At last we see women who depend upon themselves—who stand, self poised, the shocks of this sad world, without leaning for support against a church—who do not go to the literature of barbarism for consolation, or use the falsehoods and mistakes of the past for the foundation of their hope—women brave enough and tender enough to meet and bear the facts and fortunes of this world.

The men who declare that woman is the intellectual inferior of man, do not, and cannot, by offering themselves in evidence, substantiate their declaration.

Yet, I must admit that there are thousands of wives who still have faith in the saving power of superstition—who still insist on attending church while husbands prefer the shores, the woods, or the fields. In this way, families are divided. Parents grow apart, and unconsciously the pearl of greatest price is thrown away. The wife ceases to be the intellectual companion of the husband. She reads The Christian Register, sermons in the Monday papers, and a little gossip about folks and fashions, while he studies the works of Darwin, Haeckel, and Humboldt. Their sympathies become estranged. They are no longer mental friends. The husband smiles at the follies of the wife, and she weeps for the supposed sins of the husband. Such wives should read this book. They should not be satisfied to remain forever in the cradle of thought, amused with the toys of superstition.

The parasite of woman is the priest.

It must also be admitted that there are thousands of men who believe that superstition is good for women and children—who regard falsehood as the fortress of virtue, and feel indebted to ignorance for the purity of daughters and the fidelity of wives. These men think of priests as detectives in disguise, and regard God as a policeman who prevents elopements. Their opinions about religion are as correct as their estimate of woman.

The church furnishes but little food for the mind. People of intelligence are growing tired of the platitudes of the pulpit—the iterations of the itinerants. The average sermon is “as tedious as a twice told tale vexing the ears of a drowsy man.”

One Sunday a gentleman, who is a great inventor, called at my house. Only a few words had passed between us, when he arose, saying that he must go as it was time for church. Wondering that a man of his mental wealth could enjoy the intellectual poverty of the pulpit, I asked for an explanation, and he gave me the following: “You know that I am an inventor. Well, the moment my mind becomes absorbed in some difficult problem, I am afraid that something may happen to distract my attention. Now, I know that I can sit in church for an hour without the slightest danger of having the current of my thought disturbed.”

Most women cling to the Bible because they have been taught that to give up that book is to give up all hope of another life—of ever meeting again the loved and lost. They have also been taught that the Bible is their friend, their defender, and the real civilizer of man.

Now, if they will only read this book—these three lectures, without fear, and then read the Bible, they will see that the truth or falsity of the dogma of inspiration has nothing to do with the question of immortality. Certainly the Old Testament does not teach us that there is another life, and upon that question even the New is obscure and vague. The hunger of the heart finds only a few small and scattered crumbs. There is nothing definite, solid, and satisfying. United with the idea of immortality we find the absurdity of the resurrection. A prophecy that depends for its fulfillment upon an impossibility, cannot satisfy the brain or heart.

There are but few who do not long for a dawn beyond the night. And this longing is born of and nourished by the heart. Love wrapped in shadow—bending with tear-filled eyes above its dead, convulsively clasps the outstretched hand of hope.

I had the pleasure of introducing Miss Gardener to her first audience, and in that introduction said a few words that I will repeat.

“We do not know, we cannot say, whether death is a wall or a door; the beginning or end of a day; the spreading of pinions to soar, or the folding forever of wings; the rise or the set of a sun, or an endless life that brings the rapture of love to every one.

“Under the seven-hued arch of hope let the dead sleep.”

They will also discover, as they read the “Sacred Volume,” that it is not the friend of woman. They will find that the writers of that book, for the most part, speak of woman as a poor beast of burden, a serf, a drudge, a kind of necessary evil—as mere property. Surely, a book that upholds polygamy is not the friend of wife and mother.

Even Christ did not place woman on an equality with man. He said not one word about the sacredness of home, the duties of the husband to the wife—nothing calculated to lighten the hearts of those who bear the saddest burdens of this life.

They will also find that the Bible has not civilized mankind. A book that establishes and defends slavery and wanton war is not calculated to soften the hearts of those who believe implicitly that it is the work of God. A book that not only permits, but commands, religious persecution, has not, in my judgment, developed the affectional nature of man. Its influence has been bad and bad only. It has filled the world with bitterness, revenge and crime, and retarded in countless ways the progress of our race.

The writer of this volume has read the Bible with open eyes. The mist of sentimentality has not clouded her vision. She has had the courage to tell the result of her investigations. She has been quick to discover contradictions. She appreciates the humorous side of the stupidly solemn. Her heart protests against the cruel, and her brain rejects the childish, the unnatural and absurd. There is no misunderstanding between her head and heart. She says what she thinks, and feels what she says.

No human being can answer her arguments. There is no answer. All the priests in the world cannot explain away her objections. There is no explanation. They should remain dumb, unless they can show that the impossible is the probable—that slavery is better than freedom—that polygamy is the friend of woman—that the innocent can justly suffer for the guilty, and that to persecute for opinion’s sake is an act of love and worship.

Wives who cease to learn—who simply forget and believe—will fill the evening of their lives with barren sighs and bitter tears.

The mind should outlast youth. If when beauty fades, Thought, the deft and unseen sculptor, hath not left his subtle lines upon the face, then all is lost. No charm is left. The light is out. There is no flame within to glorify the wrinkled clay.

Hoffman House, New York, July, 22, 1885.


I HAVE read, this story, this fragment of a life mingled with fragments of other lives, and have been pleased, interested, and instructed. It is filled with the pathos of truth, and has in it the humor that accompanies actual experience. It has but little to do with the world of imagination; certain feelings are not attributed to persons born of fancy, but it is the history of a heart and brain interested in the common things of life. There are no kings, no lords, no titled ladies, but there are real people, the people of the shop and street whom every reader knows, and there are lines intense and beautiful, and scenes that touch the heart. You will find no theories of government, no hazy outlines of reform, nothing but facts and folks, as they have been, as they are, and probably will be for many centuries to come.

If you read this book you will be convinced that men and women are good or bad, charitable or heartless, by reason of something within, and not by virtue of any name they bear, or any trade or profession they follow, or of any creed they may accept. You will also find that men sometimes are honest and mean; that women may be very virtuous and very cruel; that good, generous and sympathetic men are often disreputable, and that some exceedingly worthy citizens are extremely mean and uncomfortable neighbors.

It takes a great deal of genius and a good deal of selfdenial to be very bad or to be very good. Few people understand the amount of energy, industry, and self-denial it requires to be consistently vicious. People who have a pride in being good and fail, and those who have a pride in being bad and fail, in order to make their records consistent generally rely upon hypocrisy. The people that live and hope and fear in this book, are much like the people who live and hope and fear in the actual world. The professor is much like the professor in the ordinary college. You will find the conscientious, half-paid teacher, the hopeful poor, the anxious rich, the true lover, the stingy philanthropist, who cares for people only in the aggregate,—the individual atom being too small to attract his notice or to enlist his heart; the sympathetic man who loves himself, and gives, not for the sake of the beggar, but for the sake of getting rid of the beggar, and you will also find the man generous to a fault—with the money of others. And the reader will find these people described naturally, truthfully and without exaggeration, and he will feel certain that all these people have really lived.

The reader of this story will get some idea as to what is encountered by a girl in an honest effort to gain her daily bread. He will find how steep, how devious and how difficult is the path she treads.

There are so few occupations open to woman, so few things in which she can hope for independence, that to be thrown upon her own resources is almost equivalent to being cast away. Besides, she is an object of continual suspicion, watched not only by men but by women. If she does anything that other women are not doing, she is at once suspected, her reputation is touched, and other women, for fear of being stained themselves, withdraw not only the hand of help, but the smile of recognition. A young woman cannot defend herself without telling the charge that has been made against her. This, of itself, gives a kind of currency to slander. To speak of the suspicion that has crawled across her path, is to plant the seeds of doubt in other minds; to even deny it, admits that it exists. To be suspected, that is enough. There is no way of destroying this suspicion. There is no court in which suspicions are tried; no juries that can render verdicts of not guilty. Most women are driven at last to the needle, and this does not allow them to live; it simply keeps them from dying.

It is hard to appreciate the dangers and difficulties that lie in wait for woman. Even in this Christian country of ours, no girl is safe in the streets of any city after the sun has gone down. After all, the sun is the only god that has ever protected woman. In the darkness she has been the prey of the wild beast in man.

Nearly all charitable people, so-called, imagine that nothing is easier than to obtain work. They really feel that anybody, no matter what his circumstances may be, can get work enough to do if he is only willing to do the work. They cannot understand why any healthy human being should lack food or clothes. Meeting the unfortunate and the wretched in the streets of the great city, they ask them in a kind of wondering way, why they do not go to the West, why they do not cultivate the soil, and why they are so foolish, stupid, and reckless as to remain in the town. It would be just as sensible to ask a beggar why he does not start a bank or a line of steamships, as to ask him why he does not cultivate the soil, or why he does not go to the West. The man has no money to pay his fare, and if his fare were paid he would be, when he landed in the West, in precisely the same condition as he was when he left the East. Societies and institutions and individuals supply the immediate wants of the hungry and the ragged, but they afford only the relief of the moment.

Articles by the thousand have been written for the purpose of showing that women should become servants in houses, and the writers of these articles are filled with astonishment that any girl should hesitate to enter domestic service. They tell us that nearly every family needs a good cook, a good chambermaid, a good sweeper of floors and washer of dishes, a good stout girl to carry the baby and draw the wagon, and these good people express the greatest astonishment that all girls are not anxious to become domestics. They tell them that they will be supplied with good food, that they will have comfortable beds and warm clothing, and they ask, “What more do you want?” These people have not, however, solved the problem. If girls, as a rule, keep away from kitchens and chambers, if they hate to be controlled by other women, there must be a reason. When we see a young woman prefer a clerkship in a store,—a business which keeps her upon her feet all day, and sends her to her lonely room, filled with weariness and despair, and when we see other girls who are willing to sew for a few cents a day rather than become the maid of “my lady,” there must be some reason, and this reason must be deemed sufficient by the persons who are actuated by it. What is it?

Every human being imagines that the future has something in store for him. It is natural to build these castles in Spain. It is natural for a girl to dream of being loved by the noble, by the superb, and it is natural for the young man to dream of success, of a home, of a good, a beautiful and loving wife. These dreams are the solace of poverty; they keep back the tears in the eyes of the young and the hungry. To engage in any labor that degrades, in any work that leaves a stain, in any business the mention of which is liable to redden the cheek, seems to be a destruction of the foundation of hope, a destruction of the future; it seems to be a crucifixion of his or her better self. It assassinates the ideal.

It may be said that labor is noble, that work is a kind of religion, and whoever says this tells the truth, But after all, what has the truth to do with this question? What is the opinion of society?—What is the result? It cures no wound to say that it was wrongfully inflicted. The opinion of sensible people is one way, the action of society is inconsistent with that opinion. Domestic servants are treated as though their employment was and is a degradation. Bankers, merchants, professional men, ministers of the gospel, do not want their sons to become the husbands of chambermaids and cooks. Small hands are beautiful; they do not tell of labor.

I have given one reason; there is another. The work of a domestic is never done. She is liable to be called at any moment, day or night. She has no time that she can call her own. A woman who works by the piece can take a little rest; if she is a clerk she has certain hours of labor and the rest of the day is her own.

And there is still another reason that I almost hate to give, and that is this: As a rule, woman is exacting with woman. As a rule, woman does not treat woman as well as man treats man, or as well as man treats woman. There are many other reasons, but I have given enough.

For many years, women have been seeking employment other than that of domestic service. They have so hated this occupation, that they have sought in every possible direction for other ways to win their bread. At last hundreds of employments are open to them, and, as a consequence, domestic servants are those who can get nothing else to do.

In the olden time, servants sat at the table with the family; they were treated something like human beings, harshly enough to be sure, but in many cases almost as equals. Now the kitchen is far away from the parlor. It is another world, occupied by individuals of a different race. There is no bond of sympathy—no common ground. This is especially true in a Republic. In the Old World, people occupying menial places account for their positions by calling attention to the laws—to the hereditary nobility and the universal spirit of caste. Here, there are no such excuses. All are supposed to have equal opportunities, and those who are compelled to labor for their daily bread, in avocations that require only bodily strength, are regarded as failures. It is this fact that stabs like a knife. And yet in the conclusion drawn, there is but little truth. Some of the noblest and best pass their lives in daily drudgery and unremunerative toil—while many of the mean, vicious and stupid reach place and power.

This story is filled with sympathy for the destitute, for the struggling, and tends to keep the star of hope above the horizon of the unfortunate. After all, we know but little of the world, and have but a faint conception of the burdens that are borne, and of the courage and heroism displayed by the unregarded poor. Let the rich read these pages; they will have a kinder feeling toward those who toil; let the workers read them, and they will think better of themselves.



EDGAR FAWCETT—a great poet, a metaphysician and logician—has been for years engaged in exploring that strange world wherein are supposed to be the springs of human action. He has sought for something back of motives, reasons, fancies, passions, prejudices, and the countless tides and tendencies that constitute the life of man.

He has found some of the limitations of mind, and knows that beginning at that luminous centre called consciousness, a few short steps bring us to the prison wall where vision fails and all light dies. Beyond this wall the eternal darkness broods. This gloom is “the other world” of the supernaturalist. With him, real vision begins where the sight fails. He reverses the order of nature. Facts become illusions, and illusions the only realities. He believes that the cause of the image, the reality, is behind the mirror.

A few centuries ago the priests said to their followers: The other world is above you; it is just beyond where you see. Afterward, the astronomer with his telescope looked, and asked the priests: Where is the world of which you speak? And the priests replied: It has receded—it is just beyond where you see.

As long as there is “a beyond,” there is room for the priests’ world. Theology is the geography of this beyond.

Between the Christian and the Agnostic there is the difference of assertion and question—between “There is a God” and “Is there a God?” The Agnostic has the arrogance to admit his ignorance, while the Christian from the depths of humility impudently insists that he knows.

Mr. Fawcett has shown that at the root of religion lies the coiled serpent of fear, and that ceremony, prayer, and worship are ways and means to gain the assistance or soften the heart of a supposed deity.

He also shows that as man advances in knowledge he loses confidence in the watchfulness of Providence and in the efficacy of prayer.


The savage is certain of those things that cannot be known. He is acquainted with origin and destiny, and knows everything except that which is useful. The civilized man, having outgrown the ignorance, the arrogance, and the provincialism of savagery, abandons the vain search for final causes, for the nature and origin of things.

In nearly every department of science man is allowed to investigate, and the discovery of a new fact is welcomed, unless it threatens some creed.

Of course there can be no advance in a religion established by infinite wisdom. The only progress possible is in the comprehension of this religion.

For many generations, what is known under a vast number of disguises and behind many masks as the Christian religion, has been propagated and preserved by the sword and bayonet—that is to say, by force. The credulity of man has been bribed and his reason punished. Those who believed without the slightest question, and whose faith held evidence in contempt, were saints; those who investigated were dangerous, and those who denied were destroyed.

Every attack upon this religion has been made in the shadow of human and divine hatred—in defiance of earth and heaven. At one time Christendom was beneath the ignorant feet of one man, and those who denied his infallibility were heretics and Atheists. At last, a protest was uttered. The right of conscience was proclaimed, to the extent of making a choice between the infallible man and the infallible book. Those who rejected the man and accepted the book became in their turn as merciless, as tyrannical and heartless, as the followers of the infallible man. The Protestants insisted that an infinitely wise and good God would not allow criminals and wretches to act as his infallible agents.

Afterward, a few protested against the infallibility of the book, using the same arguments against the book that had formerly been used against the pope. They said that an infinitely wise and good God could not be the author of a cruel and ignorant book. But those who protested against the book fell into substantially the same error that had been fallen into by those who had protested against the man. While they denounced the book, and insisted that an infinitely wise and good being could not have been its author, they took the ground that an infinitely wise and good being was the creator and governor of the world.

Then was used against them the same argument that had been used by the Protestants against the pope and by the Deists against the Protestants. Attention was called to the fact that Nature is as cruel as any pope or any book—that it is just as easy to account for the destruction of the Canaanites consistently with the goodness of Jehovah as to account for pestilence, earthquake, and flood consistently with the goodness of the God of Nature.

The Protestant and Deist both used arguments against the Catholic that could in turn be used with equal force against themselves. So that there is no question among intelligent people as to the infallibility of the pope, as to the inspiration of the book, or as to the existence of the Christian’s God—for the conclusion has been reached that the human mind is incapable of deciding as to the origin and destiny of the universe.

For many generations the mind of man has been traveling in a circle. It accepted without question the dogma of a First Cause—of the existence of a Creator—of an Infinite Mind back of matter, and sought in many ways to define its ignorance in this behalf. The most sincere worshipers have declared that this being is incomprehensible,—that he is “without body, parts, or passions”—that he is infinitely beyond their grasp, and at the same time have insisted that it was necessary for man not only to believe in the existence of this being, but to love him with all his heart.

Christianity having always been in partnership with the state,—having controlled kings and nobles, judges and legislators—having been in partnership with armies and with every form of organized destruction,—it was dangerous to discuss the foundation of its authority. To speak lightly of any dogma was a crime punishable by death. Every absurdity has been bastioned and barricaded by the power of the state. It has been protected by fist, by club, by sword and cannon.

For many years Christianity succeeded in substantially closing the mouths of its enemies, and lived and flourished only where investigation and discussion were prevented by hypocrisy and bigotry. The church still talks about “evidence,” about “reason,” about “freedom of conscience” and the “liberty of speech,” and yet denounces those who ask for evidence, who appeal to reason, and who honestly express their thoughts.

To-day we know that the miracles of Christianity are as puerile and false as those ascribed to the medicine-men of Central Africa or the Fiji Islanders, and that the “sacred Scriptures” have the same claim to inspiration that the Koran has, or the Book of Mormon—no less, no more. These questions have been settled and laid aside by free and intelligent people. They have ceased to excite interest; and the man who now really believes in the truth of the Old Testament is regarded with a smile— looked upon as an aged child—still satisfied with the lullabys and toys of the cradle.


It is contended that without religion—that is to say, without Christianity—all ideas of morality must of necessity perish, and that spirituality and reverence will be lost.

What is morality?

Is it to obey without question, or is it to act in accordance with perceived obligation? Is it something with which intelligence has nothing to do? Must the ignorant child carry out the command of the wise father—the rude peasant rush to death at the request of the prince?

Is it impossible for morality to exist where the brain and heart are in partnership? Is there no foundation for morality except punishment threatened or reward promised by a superior to an inferior? If this be true, how can the superior be virtuous? Cannot the reward and the threat be in the nature of things? Can they not rest in consequences perceived by the intellect? How can the existence or non-existence of a deity change my obligation to keep my hands out of the fire?

The results of all actions are equally certain, but not equally known, not equally perceived. If all men knew with perfect certainty that to steal from another was to rob themselves, larceny would cease. It cannot be said too often that actions are good or bad in the light of consequences, and that a clear perception of consequences would control actions. That which increases the sum of human happiness is moral; and that which diminishes the sum of human happiness is immoral. Blind, unreasoning obedience is the enemy of morality. Slavery is not the friend of virtue. Actions are neither right nor wrong by virtue of what men or gods can say—the right or wrong lives in results—in the nature of things, growing out of relations violated or caused.

Accountability lives in the nature of consequences—in their absolute certainty—in the fact that they cannot be placated, avoided, or bribed.

The relations of human life are too complicated to be accurately and clearly understood, and, as a consequence, rules of action vary from age to age. The ideas of right and wrong change with the experience of the race, and this change is wrought by the gradual ascertaining of consequences—of results. For this reason the religion of one age fails to meet the standard of another, precisely as the laws that satisfied our ancestors are repealed by us; so that, in spite of all efforts, religion itself is subject to gradual and perpetual change.

The miraculous is no longer the basis of morals. Man is a sentient being—he suffers and enjoys. In order to be happy he must preserve the conditions of well-being—must live in accordance with certain facts by which he is surrounded. If he violates these conditions the result is unhappiness, failure, disease, misery.

Man must have food, roof, raiment, fireside, friends—that is to say, prosperity; and this he must earn—this he must deserve. He is no longer satisfied with being a slave, even of the Infinite. He wishes to perceive for himself, to understand, to investigate, to experiment; and he has at last the courage to bear the consequences that he brings upon himself. He has also found that those who are the most religious are not always the kindest, and that those who have been and are the worshipers of God enslave their fellow-men. He has found that there is no necessary connection between religion and morality.

Morality needs no supernatural assistance—needs neither miracle nor pretence. It has nothing to do with awe, reverence, credulity, or blind, unreasoning faith. Morality is the highway perceived by the soul, the direct road, leading to success, honor, and happiness.

The best thing to do under the circumstances is moral.

The highest possible standard is human. We put ourselves in the places of others. We are made happy by the kindness of others, and we feel that a fair exchange of good actions is the wisest and best commerce. We know that others can make us miserable by acts of hatred and injustice, and we shrink from inflicting the pain upon others that we have felt ourselves; this is the foundation of conscience.

If man could not suffer, the words right and wrong could never have been spoken.

The Agnostic, the Infidel, clearly perceives the true basis of morals, and, so perceiving, he knows that the religious man, the superstitious man, caring more for God than for his fellows, will sacrifice his fellows, either at the supposed command of his God, or to win his approbation. He also knows that the religionist has no basis for morals except these supposed commands. The basis of morality with him lies not in the nature of things, but in the caprice of some deity. He seems to think that, had it not been for the Ten Commandments, larceny and murder might have been virtues.


What is it to be spiritual?

Is this fine quality of the mind destroyed by the development of the brain? As the domain wrested by science from ignorance increases—as island after island and continent after continent are discovered—as star after star and constellation after constellation in the intellectual world burst upon the midnight of ignorance, does the spirituality of the mind grow less and less? Like morality, is it only found in the company of ignorance and superstition? Is the spiritual man honest, kind, candid?—or dishonest, cruel and hypocritical? Does he say what he thinks? Is he guided by reason? Is he the friend of the right?—the champion of the truth? Must this splendid quality called spirituality be retained through the loss of candor? Can we not truthfully say that absolute candor is the beginning of wisdom?

To recognize the finer harmonies of conduct—to live to the ideal—to separate the incidental, the evanescent, from the perpetual—to be enchanted with the perfect melody of truth—open to the influences of the artistic, the beautiful, the heroic—to shed kindness as the sun sheds light—to recognize the good in others, and to include the world in the idea of self—this is to be spiritual.

There is nothing spiritual in the worship of the unknown and unknowable, in the self-denial of a slave at the command of a master whom he fears. Fastings, prayings, mutilations, kneelings, and mortifications are either the results of, or result in, insanity.

This is the spirituality of Bedlam, and is of no kindred with the soul that finds its greatest joy in the discharge of obligation perceived.


What is reverence?

It is the feeling produced when we stand in the presence of our ideal, or of that which most nearly approaches it—that which is produced by what we consider the highest degree of excellence.

The highest is reverenced, praised, and admired without qualification.

Each man reverences according to his nature, his experience, his intellectual development. He may reverence’ Nero or Marcus Aurelius, Jehovah or Buddha, the author of Leviticus or Shakespeare. Thousands of men reverence John Calvin, Torquemada, and the Puritan fathers; and some have greater respect for Jonathan Edwards than for Captain Kidd.

A vast number of people have great reverence for anything that is covered by mould, or moss, or mildew. They bow low before rot and rust, and adore the worthless things that have been saved by the negligence of oblivion.

They are enchanted with the dull and fading daubs of the old masters, and hold in contempt those miracles of art, the paintings of to-day.

They worship the ancient, the shadowy, the mysterious, the wonderful. They doubt the value of anything that they understand.

The creed of Christendom is the enemy of morality. It teaches that the innocent can justly suffer for the guilty, that consequences can be avoided by repentance, and that in the world of mind the great fact known as cause and effect does not apply.

It is the enemy of spirituality, because it teaches that credulity is of more value than conduct, and because it pours contempt upon human love by raising far above it the adoration of a phantom.

It is the enemy of reverence. It makes ignorance the foundation of virtue. It belittles the useful, and cheapens the noblest of! the virtues. It teaches man to live on mental alms, and glorifies the intellectual pauper. It holds candor in contempt, and is the malignant foe of mental manhood.


Mr. Fawcett has shown conclusively that it is no easier to establish the existence of an infinitely wise and good being by the existence of what we call “good” than to establish the existence of an infinitely bad being by what we call “bad.”

Nothing can be surer than that the history of this world furnishes no foundation on which to base an inference that it has been governed by infinite wisdom and goodness. So terrible has been the condition of man, that religionists in all ages have endeavored to excuse God by accounting for the evils of the world by the wickedness of men. And the fathers of the Christian Church were forced to take the ground that this world had been filled with briers and thorns, with deadly serpents and with poisonous weeds, with disease and crime and earthquake and pestilence and storm, by the curse of God.

The probability is that no God has cursed, and that no God will bless, this earth. Man suffers and enjoys according to conditions. The sun shines without love, and the lightning blasts without hate. Man is the Providence of man.

Nature gives to our eyes all they can see, to our ears all they can hear, and to the mind what it can comprehend. The human race reaps the fruit of every victory won on the fields of intellectual or physical conflict. We have no right to expect something for nothing. Man will reap no harvest the seeds of which he has not sown.

The race must be guided by intelligence, must be free to investigate, and must have the courage and the candor not only to state what is known, but to cheerfully admit the limitations of the mind.

No intelligent, honest man can read what Mr. Fawcett has written and then say that he knows the origin and destiny of things—that he knows whether an infinite Being exists or not, and that he knows whether the soul of man is or is not immortal.

In the land of————, the geography of which is not certainly known, there was for many years a great dispute among the inhabitants as to which road led to the city of Miragia, the capital of their country, and known to be the most delightful city on the earth. For fifty generations the discussion as to which road led to the city had been carried on with the greatest bitterness, until finally the people were divided into a great number of parties, each party claiming that the road leading to the city had been miraculously made known to the founder of that particular sect. The various parties spent most of their time putting up guide-boards on these roads and tearing down the guide-boards of others. Hundreds of thousands had been killed, prisons were filled, and the fields had been ravaged by the hosts of war.

One day, a wise man, a patriot, wishing to bring peace to his country, met the leaders of the various sects and asked them whether it was absolutely certain that the city of Miragia existed. He called their attention to the facts that no resident of that city had ever visited them and that none of their fellow-men who had started for the capital had ever returned, and modestly asked whether it would not be better to satisfy themselves beyond a doubt that there was such a city, adding that the location of the city would determine which of all the roads was the right one.

The leaders heard these words with amazement. They denounced the speaker as a wretch without morality, spirituality, or reverence, and thereupon he was torn in pieces.




I LIKE to know the thoughts, theories and conclusions of an honest, intelligent man; candor is always charming, and it is a delight to feel that you have become acquainted with a sincere soul.

I have read this book with great pleasure, not only because I know, and greatly esteem the author, not only because he is my unwavering friend, but because it is full of good sense, of accurate statement, of sound logic, of exalted thoughts happily expressed, and for the further reason that it is against tyranny, superstition, bigotry, and every form of injustice, and in favor of every virtue.

Henry M. Taber, the author, has for many years taken great interest in religious questions. He was raised in an orthodox atmosphere, was acquainted with many eminent clergymen from whom he endeavored to find out what Christianity is—and the facts and evidence relied on to establish the truth of the creeds. He found that the clergy of even the same denomination did not agree—that some of them preached one way and talked another, and that many of them seemed to regard the creed as something to be accepted whether it was believed or not. He found that each one gave his own construction to the dogmas that seemed heartless or unreasonable. While some insisted that the Bible was absolutely true and the creed without error, others admitted that there were mistakes in the sacred volume and that the creed ought to be revised. Finding these differences among the ministers, the shepherds, and also finding that no one pretended to have any evidence except faith, or any facts but assertions, he concluded to investigate the claims of Christianity for himself.

For half a century he has watched the ebb and flow of public opinion, the growth of science, the crumbling of creeds—the decay of the theological spirit, the waning influence of the orthodox pulpit, the loss of confidence in special providence and the efficacy of prayer.

He has lived to see the church on the defensive—to hear faith asking for facts—and to see the shot and shell of science batter into shapelessness the fortresses of superstition. He has lived to see Infidels, blasphemers and Agnostics the leaders of the intellectual world. In his time the supernaturalists have lost the sceptre and have taken their places in the abject rear.

Fifty years ago the orthodox Christians believed their creeds. To them the Bible was an actual revelation from God. Every word was true. Moses and Joshua were regarded as philosophers and scientists. All the miracles and impossibilities recorded in the Bible were accepted as facts. Credulity was the greatest of virtues. Everything, except the reasonable, was believed, and it was considered wickedly presumptuous to doubt anything except facts. The reasonable things in the Bible could safely be doubted, but to deny the miracles was like the sin against the Holy Ghost. In those days the preachers were at the helm. They spoke with authority. They knew the origin and destiny of the soul. They were on familiar terms with the Trinity—the three-headed God. They knew the narrow path that led to heaven and the great highway along which the multitude were traveling to the Prison of Pain.

While these reverend gentlemen were busy trying to prevent the development of the brain and to convince the people that the good in this life were miserable, that virtue wore a crown of thorns and carried a cross, while the wicked and ungodly walked in the sunshine of joy, yet that after death the wicked would be eternally tortured and the good eternally rewarded. According to the pious philosophy the good God punished virtue, and rewarded vice, in this world—and in the next, rewarded virtue and punished vice. These divine truths filled their hearts with holy peace—with pious resignation. It would be difficult to determine which gave them the greater joy—the hope of heaven for themselves, or the certainty of hell for their enemies. For the grace of God they were fairly thankful, but for his “justice” their gratitude was boundless. From the heights of heaven they expected to witness the eternal tragedy in hell.

While these good divines, these doctors of divinity, were busy misinterpreting the Scriptures, denying facts and describing the glories and agonies of eternity, a good many other people were trying to find out something about this world. They were busy with retort and crucible, searching the heavens with the telescope, examining rocks and craters, reefs and islands, studying plant and animal life, inventing ways to use the forces of nature for the benefit of man, and in every direction searching for the truth. They were not trying to destroy religion or to injure the clergy. Many of them were members of churches and believed the creeds. The facts they found were honestly given to the world. Of course all facts are the enemies of superstition. The clergy, acting according to the instinct of self-preservation, denounced these “facts” as dangerous and the persons who found and published them, as Infidels and scoffers.

Theology was arrogant and bold. Science was timid. For some time the churches seemed to have the best of the controversy. Many of the scientists surrendered and did their best to belittle the facts and patch up a cowardly compromise between Nature and Revelation—that is, between the true and the false.

Day by day more facts were found that could not be reconciled with the Scriptures, or the creeds. Neither was it possible to annihilate facts by denial. The man who believed the Bible could not accept the facts, and the man who believed the facts could not accept the Bible. At first, the Bible was the standard, and all facts inconsistent with that standard were denied. But in a little while science became the standard, and the passages in the Bible contrary to the standard had to be explained or given up. Great efforts were made to harmonize the mistakes in the Bible with the demonstrations of science. It was difficult to be ingenious enough to defend them both. The pious professors twisted and turned but found it hard to reconcile the creation of Adam with the slow development of man from lower forms. They were greatly troubled about the age of the universe. It seemed incredible that until about six thousand years ago there was nothing in existence but God—and nothing. And yet they tried to save the Bible by giving new meanings to the inspired texts, and casting a little suspicion on the facts.

This course has mostly been abandoned, although a few survivals, like Mr. Gladstone, still insist there is no conflict between Revelation and Science. But these champions of Holy Writ succeed only in causing the laughter of the intelligent and the amazement of the honest. The more intelligent theologians confessed that the inspired writers could not be implicitly believed. As they personally know nothing of astronomy or geology and were forced to rely entirely on inspiration, it is wonderful that more mistakes were not made. So it was claimed that Jehovah cared nothing about science, and allowed the blunders and mistakes of the ignorant people concerning everything except religion, to appear in his supernatural book as inspired truths.

The Bible, they said, was written to teach religion in its highest and purest form—to make mankind fit to associate with God and his angels. True, polygamy was tolerated and slavery established, yet Jehovah believed in neither, but on account of the wickedness of the Jews was in favor of both.

At the same time quite a number of real scholars were investigating other religions, and in a little while they were enabled to show that these religions had been manufactured by men—that their Christs and apostles were myths and that all their sacred books were false and foolish. This pleased the Christians. They knew that theirs was the only true religion and that their Bible was the only inspired book.

The fact that there is nothing original in Christianity, that all the dogmas, ceremonies and festivals had been borrowed, together with some mouldy miracles used as witnesses, weakened the faith of some and sowed the seeds of doubt in many minds. But the pious petrifactions, the fossils of faith, still clung to their book and creed. While they were quick to see the absurdities in other sacred books, they were either unconsciously blind or maliciously shut their eyes to the same absurdities in the Bible. They knew that Mohammed was an impostor, because the citizens of Mecca, who knew him, said he was, and they knew that Christ was not an impostor, because the people of Jerusalem who knew him, said he was. The same fact was made to do double duty. When they attacked other religions it was a sword and when their religion was attacked it became a shield.

The men who had investigated other religions turned their attention to Christianity. They read our Bible as they had read other sacred books. They were not blinded by faith or paralyzed by fear, and they found that the same arguments they had used against other religions destroyed our own.

But the real old-fashioned orthodox ministers denounced the investigators as Infidels and denied every fact that was inconsistent with the creed. They wanted to protect the young and feeble minded. They were anxious about the souls of the “thoughtless.”

Some ministers changed their views just a little, not enough to be driven from their pulpits—but just enough to keep sensible people from thinking them idiotic. These preachers talked about the “higher criticism” and contended that it was not necessary to believe every word in the Bible, that some of the miracles might be given up and some of the books discarded. But the stupid doctors of divinity had the Bible and the creeds on their side and the machinery of the churches was in their control. They brought some of the offending clergymen to the bar, and had them tried for heresy, made some recant and closed the mouths of others. Still, it was not easy to put the heretics down. The congregations of ministers found guilty, often followed the shepherds. Heresy grew popular, the liberal preachers had good audiences, while the orthodox addressed a few bonnets, bibs and benches.

For many years the pulpit has been losing influence and the sacred calling no longer offers a career to young men of talent and ambition.

When people believed in “special providence,” they also believed that preachers had great influence with God. They were regarded as celestial lobbyists and they were respected and feared because of their supposed power.

Now no one who has the capacity to think, believes in special providence. Of course there are some pious imbeciles who think that pestilence and famine, cyclone and earthquake, flood and fire are the weapons of God, the tools of his trade, and that with these weapons, these tools, he kills and starves, rends and devours, drowns and burns countless thousands of the human race.

If God governs this world, if he builds and destroys, if back of every event is his will, then he is neither good nor wise, He is ignorant and malicious.

A few days ago, in Paris, men and women had gathered together in the name of Charity. The building in which they, were assembled took fire and many of these men and women perished in the flames.

A French priest called this horror an act of God.

Is it not strange that Christians speak of their God as an assassin?

How can they love and worship this monster who murders, his children?

Intelligence seems to be leaving the orthodox church. The great divines are growing smaller, weaker, day by day. Since the death of Henry Ward Beecher no man of genius has stood in the orthodox pulpit. The ministers of intelligence are found in the liberal churches where they are allowed to express their thoughts and preserve their manhood. Some of these preachers keep their faces toward the East and sincerely welcome the light, while their orthodox brethren stand with their backs to the sunrise and worship the sunset of the day before.

During these years of change, of decay and growth, the author of this book looked and listened, became familiar with the questions raised, the arguments offered and the results obtained. For his work a better man could not have been found. He has no prejudice, no hatred. He is by nature candid, conservative, kind and just. He does not attack persons. He knows the difference between exchanging epithets and thoughts. He gives the facts as they appear to him and draws the logical conclusions. He charges and proves that Christianity has not always been the friend of morality, of civil liberty, of wives and mothers, of free though and honest speech. He shows that intolerance is its nature, that it always has, and always will persecute to the extent of its power, and that Christianity will always despise the doubter.

Yet we know that doubt must inhabit every finite mind. We know that doubt is as natural as hope, and that man is no more responsible for his doubts than for the beating of his heart. Every human being who knows the nature of evidence, the limitations of the mind, must have “doubts” about gods and devils, about heavens and hells, and must know that there is not the slightest evidence tending to show that gods and devils ever existed.

God is a guess.

An undesigned designer, an uncaused cause, is as incomprehensible to the human mind as a circle without a diameter.

The dogma of the Trinity multiplies the difficulty by three.

Theologians do not, and cannot believe that the authority to govern comes from the consent of the governed. They regard God as the monarch, and themselves as his agents. They always have been the enemies of liberty.

They claim to have a revelation from their God, a revelation that is the rightful master of reason. As long as they believe this, they must be the enemies of mental freedom. They do not ask man to think, but command him to obey.

If the claims of the theologians are admitted, the church becomes the ruler of the world, and to support and obey priests will be the business of mankind. All these theologians claim to have a revelation from their God, and yet they cannot agree as to what the revelation reveals. The other day, looking from my window at the bay of New York, I saw many vessels going in many directions, and yet all were moved by the same wind. The direction in which they were going did not depend on the direction of the breeze, but on the set of the sails. In this way the same Bible furnishes creeds for all the Christian sects. But what would we say if the captains of the boats I saw, should each swear that his boat was the only one that moved in the same direction the wind was blowing?

I agree with Mr. Taber that all religions are founded on mistakes, misconceptions and falsehoods, and that superstition is the warp and woof of every creed.

This book will do great good. It will furnish arguments and facts against the supernatural and absurd. It will drive phantoms from the brain, fear from the heart, and many who read these pages will be emancipated, enlightened and ennobled.

Christianity, with its ignorant and jealous God—its loving and revengeful Christ—its childish legends—its grotesque miracles—its “fall of man”—its atonement—its salvation by faith—its heaven for stupidity and its hell for genius, does not and cannot satisfy the free brain and the good heart.


Chicago, November 13, 1879.



* The meteoric display predicted to take place last Thursday

night did not occur, but there did occur on that evening a

display of oratorical brilliancy at Chicago seldom if ever

surpassed. The speeches at the banquet of the Army of the

Tennessee, taken together, constitute one of the most

remarkable collections of extemporaneous eloquence on

record. The principal speakers of the evening were Gen. U.

S. Grant, Gen. John A. Logan Col. Win, F. Vilas, Gen.

Stewart L. Woodford, General Pope, Col. R. G. Ingersoll,

Gen. J. H. Wilson, and “Mark Twain.” In an oratorical

tournament General Grant is, of course, better as a listener

than as a talker; he is a man of deeds rather than of words.

The same might be said of General Sherman, though, as

presiding officer and toast-master of the occasion, his

impromptu remarks were always pertinent and keen. His advice

to speakers not to talk longer than they could hold their

audience, and to the auditors not to drag out their applause

or to drawl out their laughter, would serve as a good

standing rule for all similar occasions Colonel Ingersoll

responded to the twelfth toast, “The Volunteer Soldiers of

the Union Army, whose Valor and Patriotism saved to the

world a Government of the People, by the People, and for the



Colonel Ingersoll’s position was a difficult one. His

reputation as the first orator in America caused the

distinguished audience to expect a wonderful display of

oratory from him. He proved fully equal to the occasion and

delivered a speech of wonderful eloquence, brilliancy and

power. To say it was one of the best he ever delivered is

equivalent to saying it was one of the best ever delivered

by any man, for few greater orators have ever lived than

Colonel Ingersoll. The speech is both an oration and a poem.

It bristles with ideas and sparkles with epigrammatic

expressions. It is full of thoughts that breathe and words

that burn. The closing sentences read like blank verse. It

is wonderful oratory, marvelous eloquence. Colonel

Ingersoll fully sustained his reputation as the finest

orator In America.


Editorial from The Journal Indianapolis, Ind., November



The Inter-Ocean remarked yesterday that the gathering and

exercises at the Palmer House banquet on Thursday evening

constituted one of the most remarkable occasions known in

the history of this country. This was not alone because of

the distinguished men who lent their presence to the scone;

they were indeed illustrious; but they only formed a part of

the grand picture that must endure while the memory of our

great conflict survives. To the eminent men assembled may be

traced the signal success of the affair, for they gave

inspiration to the minds and the tongues of others; but it

was the fruit of that inspiration that rolled like a glad

surprise across the banqueting sky, and made the 13th of

November renowned in the calendar of days… When Robert G.

Ingersoll rose after the speech of General Pope, to respond

to the toast, “The Volunteer Soldiers,” a large part of the

audience rose with him, and the cheering was long and loud.

Colonel Ingersoll may fairly be regarded as the foremost

orator of America, and there was the keenest interest to

hear him after all the brilliant speeches that had preceded;

and this interest was not unnmixed with a fear that he would

not be able to successfully strive against both his own

great reputation and the fresh competitors who had leaped

suddenly into the oratorical arena like mighty gladiators

and astonished the audience by their unexpected eloquence.

But Ingersoll had not proceeded far when the old fire broke

out, and flashing metaphor, bold denunciation, and all the

rich imagery and poetical beauty which mark his great

efforts stood revealed before the delighted listeners: Long

before the last word was uttered, all doubt as to the

ability of the great orator to sustain himself had departed,

and rising to their feet, the audience cheered till the hall

rang with shouts. Like Henry, “The forest-born Demosthenes,

whose thunder shook the Philip of the seas,” Ingersoll still

held the crown within his grasp.


Editorial from The Inter-Ocean, Chicago, November 15, 1879.


The Volunteer Soldiers of the Union Army, whose Valor and Patriotism saved to the world “a Government of the People, by the People, and for the People.”

WHEN the savagery of the lash, the barbarism of the chain, and the insanity of secession confronted the civilization of our country, the question “Will the great Republic defend itself?” trembled on the lips of every lover of mankind.

The North, filled with intelligence and wealth—children of liberty—marshaled her hosts and asked only for a leader. From civil life a man, silent, thoughtful, poised and calm, stepped forth, and with the lips of victory voiced the Nation’s first and last demand: “Unconditional and immediate surrender.” From that ‘moment’ the end was known. That utterance was the first real declaration of real war, and, in accordance with the dramatic unities of mighty events, the great soldier who made it, received the final sword of the Rebellion.

The soldiers of the Republic were not seekers after vulgar glory. They were not animated by the hope of plunder or the love of conquest. They fought to preserve the homestead of liberty and that their children might have peace. They were the defenders of humanity, the destroyers of prejudice, the breakers of chains, and in the name of the future they slew the monster of their time. They finished what the soldiers of the Revolution commenced. They re-lighted the torch that fell from their august hands and filled the world again with light. They blotted from the statute-book laws that had been passed by hypocrites at the instigation of robbers, and tore with indignant hands from the Constitution that infamous clause that made men the catchers of their fellow-men. They made it possible for judges to be just, for statesmen to be humane, and for politicians to be honest. They broke the shackles from the limbs of slaves, from the souls of masters, and from the Northern brain. They kept our country on the map of the world, and our flag in heaven. They rolled the stone from the sepulchre of progress, and found therein two angels clad in shining garments—Nationality and Liberty.

The soldiers were the saviors of the Nation; they were the liberators of men. In writing the Proclamation of Emancipation, Lincoln, greatest of our mighty dead, whose memory is as gentle as the summer air when reapers, sing amid the gathered sheaves, copied with the pen what Grant and his brave comrades wrote with swords.

Grander than the Greek, nobler than the Roman, the soldiers of the Republic, with patriotism as shoreless as the air, battled for the rights of others, for the nobility of labor; fought that mothers might own their babes, that arrogant idleness should not scar the back of patient toil, and that our country should not be a many-headed monster made of warring States, but a Nation, sovereign, great, and free.

Blood was water, money was leaves, and life, was only common air until one flag floated over a Republic without a master and without a slave.

And then was asked the question: “Will a free, people tax themselves to pay a Nation’s debt?”

The soldiers went home to their waiting wives, to their glad children, and to the girls they loved—they went back-to the fields, the shops, and mines. They had not been demoralized. They had been ennobled. They were as honest in peace as they had been brave in war. Mocking at poverty, laughing at reverses, they made a friend of toil. They said: “We saved the Nation’s life, and what is life without honor?” They worked and wrought with all of labor’s royal sons that every pledge the Nation gave might be redeemed. And their great leader, having put a shining band of friendship—a girdle of clasped and happy hands—around the globe, comes home and finds that every promise made in war has now the ring and gleam of gold.

There is another question still:—Will all the wounds of war be healed? I answer, Yes. The Southern people must submit,—not to the dictation of the North, but to the Nation’s will and to the verdict of mankind. They were wrong, and the time will come when they will say that they are victors who have been vanquished by the right. Freedom conquered them, and freedom will cultivate their fields, educate their children, weave for them the robes of wealth, execute their laws, and fill their land with happy homes.

The soldiers of the Union saved the South as well as the North. They made us a Nation. Their victory made us free and rendered tyranny in every other land as insecure as snow upon volcanoes’ lips.

And now let us drink to the volunteers—to those who sleep in unknown, sunken graves, whose names are only in the hearts of those they loved and left—of those who only hear in happy dreams the footsteps of return. Let us drink to those who died where lipless famine mocked at want; to all the maimed whose scars give modesty a tongue; to all who dared and gave to chance the care and keeping of their lives; to all the living and to all the dead,—to Sherman, to Sheridan, and to Grant, the laureled soldier of the world, and last, to Lincoln, whose loving life, like a bow of peace, spans and arches all the clouds of war.




     * Response of Col. R. G. Ingersoll to the sentiment “The

Superstitions of Public Men,” at the regular monthly dinner

of the Thirteen Club. Monday evening, December 18, 1886.


New York, December 13, 1886,



MR. CHIEF RULER-AND GENTLEMEN: I suppose that the superstition most prevalent with public men, is the idea that they are of great importance to the public. As a matter of fact, public men,—that is to say, men in office,—reflect the average intelligence of the people, and no more. A public man, to be successful, must not assert anything unless it is exceedingly popular. And he need not deny anything unless everybody is against it. Usually he has to be like the center of the earth,—draw all things his way, without weighing anything himself.

One of the difficulties, or rather, one of the objections, to a government republican in form, is this: Everybody imagines that he is everybody’s: master. And the result has been to make most of our public men exceedingly conservative in the expression of their real opinions. A man, wishing to be elected to an office, generally agrees with ‘most everybody he meets. If he meets a Prohibitionist, he says: “Of course I am a temperance man. I am opposed to all excesses; my dear friend, and no one knows better than myself the evils that have been caused by intemperance.” The next man happens to keep a saloon, and happens to be quite influential in that part of the district, and the candidate immediately says to him:—”The idea that these Prohibitionists can take away the personal liberty of the citizen is simply monstrous!” In a moment after, he is greeted by a Methodist, and he hastens to say, that while he does not belong to that church himself, his wife does; that he would gladly be a member, but does not feel that he is good enough. He tells a Presbyterian that his grandfather was of that faith, and that he was a most excellent man, and laments from the bottom of his heart that he himself is not within that fold. A few moments after, on meeting a skeptic, he declares, with the greatest fervor, that reason is the only guide, and that he looks forward to the time when superstition will be dethroned. In other words, the greatest superstition now entertained by public men is, that hypocrisy is the royal road to success.

Of course, there are many other superstitions, and one is, that the Democratic party has not outlived its usefulness. Another is, that the Republican party should have power for what it has done, instead of what it proposes to do.

In my judgment, these statesmen are mistaken. The people of the United States, after all, admire intellectual honesty and have respect for moral courage. The time has come for the old ideas and superstitions in politics to be thrown away—not in phrase, not in pretence, but in fact; and the time has come when a man can safely rely on the intelligence and courage of the American people.

The most significant fact in this world to-day, is, that in nearly every village under the American flag the school-house is larger than the church. People are beginning to have a little confidence in intelligence and in facts. Every public man and every private man, who is actuated in his life by a belief in something that no one can prove,—that no one can demonstrate,—is, to that extent, a superstitious man.

It may be that I go further than most of you, because if I have any superstition, it is a superstition against superstition. It seems to me that the first things for every man, whether in or out of office, to believe in,—the first things to rely on, are demonstrated facts. These are the corner stones,—these are the columns that nothing can move,—these are the stars that no darkness can hide,—these are the true and only foundations of belief.

Beyond the truths that have been demonstrated is the horizon of the Probable, and in the world of the Probable every man has the right to guess for himself. Beyond the region of the Probable is the Possible, and beyond the Possible is the Impossible, and beyond the Impossible are the religions of this world. My idea is this: Any man who acts in view of the Improbable or of the Impossible—that is to say of the Supernatural—is a superstitious man. Any man who believes that he can add to the happiness of the Infinite, by depriving himself of innocent pleasure, is superstitious. Any man who imagines that he can make some God happy, by making himself miserable, is superstitious. Any one who thinks he can gain happiness in another world, by raising hell with his fellow-men in this, is simply superstitious. Any man who believes in a Being of infinite wisdom and goodness, and yet belives that that Being has peopled a world with failures, is superstitious. Any man who believes that an infinitely wise and good God would take pains to make a man, intending at the time that the man should be eternally damned, is absurdly superstitious. In other words, he who believes that there is, or that there can be, any other religious duty than to increase the happiness of mankind, in this world, now and here, is superstitious.

I have known a great many private men who were not men of genius. I have known some men of genius about whom it was kept private, and I have known many public men, and my wonder increased the better I knew them, that they occupied positions of trust and honor.

But, after all, it is the people’s fault. They who demand hypocrisy must be satisfied with mediocrity… Our public men will be better and greater, and less superstitious, when the people become greater and better and less superstitious. There is an old story, that we have all heard, about Senator Nesmith. He was elected a Senator from Oregon. When he had been in Washington a little while, one of the other Senators said to him: “How did you feel when you found yourself sitting here in the United States Senate?” He replied: “For the first two months, I just sat and wondered how a damned fool like me ever, broke into the Senate. Since that, I have done nothing but wonder how the other fools got here.”

To-day the need of our civilization is public men who have the courage to speak as they think. We need a man for President who will not publicly thank God for earthquakes. We need somebody with the courage to say that all that happens in nature happens without design, and without reference to man; somebody who will say that the men and women killed are not murdered by supernatural beings, and that everything that happens in nature, happens without malice and without mercy. We want somebody who will have courage enough not to charge, an infinitely good and wise Being with all the cruelties and agonies and sufferings of this world. We want such men in public places,—men who will appeal to the reason of their fellows, to the highest intelligence of the people; men who will have courage enough, in this the nineteenth century, to agree with the conclusions of science. We want some man who will not pretend to believe, and who does not in fact believe, the stories that Superstition has told to Credulity.

The most important thing in this world is the destruction of superstition. Superstition interferes with the happiness of mankind. Superstition is a terrible serpent, reaching in frightful coils from heaven to earth and thrusting its poisoned fangs into the hearts of men. While I live, I am going to do what little I can for the destruction of this monster. Whatever may happen in another world—and I will take my chances there,—I am opposed to superstition in this. And if, when I reach that other world, it needs reforming, I shall do what little I can there for the destruction of the false.

Let me tell you one thing more, and I am done. The only way to have brave, honest, intelligent, conscientious public men, men without superstition, is to do what we can to make the average citizen brave, conscientious and intelligent. If you wish to see courage in the presidential chair, conscience upon the bench, intelligence of the highest order in Congress; if you expect public men to be great enough to reflect honor upon the Republic, private citizens must have the courage and the intelligence to elect, and to sustain, such men. I have said, and I say it again, that never while I live will I vote for any man to be President of the United States, no matter if he does belong to my party, who has not won his spurs on some field of intellectual conflict. We have had enough mediocrity, enough policy, enough superstition, enough prejudice, enough provincialism, and the time has come for the American citizen to say: “Hereafter I will be represented by men who are worthy, not only of the great Republic, but of the Nineteenth Century.”


New York, November 21, 1887.

     * The theatre party and supper given by Charles P. Palmer,

brother of Courtlandt Palmer, on Monday evening were

unusually attractive in many ways. Mr Palmer has recently

returned from Europe, and took this opportunity to gather

around him his old club associates and friends, and to show

his admiration of the acting of Messrs. Robson and Crane.

The appearance of Mr. Palmer’s fifty guests in the theatre

excited much interest in all parts of the house. It is not

often that theatre-goers have the opportunity of seeing in a

single row, Channcey M. Depew, Gen. William T. Sherman, Gen.

Horace Porter and Robert G. Ingersoll, with Leonard Jerome

and his brother Lawrence, Murat Halstead and other well-

known men in close proximity


The supper table at Delmonico’s was decorated with a lavish

profusion of flowers rarely approached even at that famous



Mr. Palmer was a charming host, full of humor, jollity and

attention to every guest. He opened the speaking with a few

apt words. Then Stuart Rodson made some witty remarks, and

called upon William H. Crane, whose well-rounded speech was

heartily applauded General Sherman, Chauncey M. Depew,

General Porter, Lawrence Jerome and Colonel Ingersoll were

all in their best moods, and the sallies of wit and the

abundance of genuine humor in their informal addresses kept

their hearers in almost continuous laughter. Lawrence Jerome

was in especially fine form. He sang songs, told stories and

said: “Depew and Ingersoll know so much that intelligence

has become a drag in the market, and it’s no use to tell you

what a good speech I would have made.” J. Seaver Page made

an uncommonly witty and effective speech. Murat Halstead

related some reminiscences of his last European tour and of

his experiences in London with Lawrence and Leonard Jerome,

which were received with shouts of laughter. Altogether the

supper was one to be long remembered by all present.—The

Tribune, New York, November 23, 1887;



I BELIEVE in the medicine of mirth, and in what I might call the longevity of laughter. Every man who has caused real, true, honest mirth, has been a benefactor of the human race. In a world like this, where there is so much trouble—a world gotten up on such a poor plan—where sometimes one is almost inclined to think that the Deity, if there be one, played a practical joke—to find, I say, in such a world, something that for the moment allows laughter to triumph over sorrow, is a great piece of good fortune. I like the stage, not only because General Sherman likes it—and I do not think I was ever at the theatre in my life but I saw him—I not only like it because General Washington liked it, but because the greatest man that ever touched this grain of sand and tear we call the world, wrote for the stage, and poured out a very Mississippi of philosophy and pathos and humor, and everything calculated to raise and ennoble mankind.

I like to see the stage honored, because actors are the ministers, the apostles, of the greatest man who ever lived, and because they put flesh upon and blood and passion within the greatest characters that the greatest man drew. This is the reason I like the stage. It makes us human. A rascal never gained applause on the stage. A hypocrite never commanded admiration, not even when he was acting a clergyman—except for the naturalness of the acting. No one has ever yet seen any play in which, in his heart, he did not applaud honesty, heroism, sincerity, fidelity, courage, and self-denial. Never. No man ever heard a great play who did not get up a better, wiser, and more humane man; and no man ever went to the theatre and heard Robson and Crane, who did not go home better-natured, and treat his family that night a little better than on a night when he had not heard these actors.

I enjoy the stage; I always did enjoy it. I love the humanity of it. I hate solemnity; it is the brother of stupidity—always. You never knew a solemn man who was not stupid, and you never will. There never was a man of true genius who had not the simplicity of a child, and over whose lips had not rippled the river of laughter—never, and there never will be. I like, I say, the stage for its wit and for its humor. I do not like sarcasm; I do not like mean humor. There is as much difference between humor and malicious wit as there is between a bee’s honey and a bee’s sting, and the reason I like Robson and Crane is that they have the honey without the sting.

Another thing that makes me glad is, that I live in an age and generation and day that has sense enough to appreciate the stage; sense enough to appreciate music; sense enough to appreciate everything that lightens the burdens of this life. Only a few years ago our dear ancestors looked upon the theatre as the vestibule of hell; and every actor was going “the primrose way to the everlasting bonfire.” In those good old days, our fathers, for the sake of relaxation, talked about death and graves and epitaphs and worms and shrouds and dust and hell. In those days, too, they despised music, cared nothing for art; and yet I have lived long enough to hear the world—that is, the civilized world—say that Shakespeare wrote the greatest book that man has ever read. I have lived long enough to see men like Beethoven and Wagner put side by side with the world’s greatest men—great in imagination—and we must remember that imagination makes the great difference between men. I have lived long enough to see actors placed with the grandest and noblest, side by side with the greatest benefactors of the human race.

There is one thing in which I cannot quite agree with what has been said. I like tragedy, because tragedy is only the other side of the shield and I like both sides. I love to spend an evening on the twilight boundary line between tears and smiles. There is nothing that pleases me better than some scene, some act, where the smile catches the tears in the eyes; where the eyes are almost surprised by the smile, and the smile touched and softened by the tears. I like that. And the greatest comedians and the greatest tragedians have that power; and, in conclusion, let me say, that it gives me more than pleasure to acknowledge the debt of gratitude I owe, not only to the stage, but to the actors whose health we drink to-night.


New York, January 24, 1888.


ONLY a little while ago, the nations of the world were ignorant and provincial. Between these nations there were the walls and barriers of language, of prejudice, of custom, of race and of religion. Each little nation had the only perfect form of government—the only genuine religion—all others being adulterations or counterfeits.

These nations met only as enemies. They had nothing to exchange but blows—nothing to give and take but wounds.

Movable type was invented, and “civilization was thrust into the brain of Europe on the point of a Moorish lance.” The Moors gave to our ancestors paper, and nearly all valuable inventions that were made for a thousand years.

In a little while, books began to be printed—the nations began to exchange thoughts instead of blows. The classics were translated. These were read, and those who read them began to imitate them—began to write themselves; and in this way there was produced in each nation a local literature. There came to be an exchange of facts, of theories, of ideas.

For many years this was accomplished by books, but after a time the newspaper was invented, and the exchange increased.

Before this, every peasant thought his king the greatest being in the world. He compared this king—his splendor, his palace—with the peasant neighbor, with his rags and with his hut. All his thoughts were provincial, all his knowledge confined to his own neighborhood—the great world was to him an unknown land.

Long after papers were published, the circulation was small, the means of intercommunication slow, painful, few and costly.

The same was true in our own country, and here, too, was in a great degree, the provincialism of the Old World.

Finally, the means of intercommunication increased, and they became plentiful and cheap.

Then the peasant found that he must compare his king with the kings of other nations—the statesmen of his country with the statesmen of others—and these comparisons were not always favorable to the men of his own country.

This enlarged his knowledge and his vision, and the tendency of this was to make him a citizen of the world.

Here in our own country, a little while ago, the citizen of each State regarded his State as the best of all. To love that State more than all others, was considered the highest evidence of patriotism.

The Press finally informed him of the condition of other States. He found that other States were superior to his in many ways—in climate, in production, in men, in invention, in commerce and in influence. Slowly he transferred the love of State, the prejudice of locality—what I call mud patriotism—to the Nation, and he became an American in the best and highest sense.

This, then, is one of the greatest things to be accomplished by the Press in America—namely, the unification of the country—the destruction of provincialism, and the creation of a patriotism broad as the territory covered by our flag.

The same ideas, the same events, the same news, are carried to millions of homes every day. The result of this is to fix the attention of all upon the same things, the same thoughts and theories, the same facts—and the result is to get the best judgment of a nation.

This is a great and splendid object, but not the greatest.

In Europe the same thing is taking place. The nations are becoming acquainted with each other. The old prejudices are dying out. The people cf each nation are beginning to find that they are not the enemies of any other. They are also beginning to suspect that where they have no cause of quarrel, they should neither be called upon to fight, nor to pay the expenses of war.

Another thing: The kings and statesmen no longer act as they formerly did. Once they were responsible only to their poor and wretched-subjects, whose obedience they compelled at the point of the bayonet. Now a king knows, and his minister knows, that they must give account for what they do to the civilized world. They know that kings and rulers must be tried before the great bar of public opinion—a public opinion that has been formed by the facts given to them in the Press of the world. They do not wish to be condemned at that great bar. They seek not only not to be condemned—not only to be acquitted—but they seek to be crowned. They seek the applause, not simply of their own nation, but of the civilized world.

There was for uncounted centuries a conflict between civilization and barbarism. Barbarism was almost universal, civilization local. The torch of progress was then held by feeble hands, and barbarism extinguished it in the blood of its founders. But civilizations arose, and kept rising, one after another, until now the great Republic holds and is able to hold that torch against a hostile world.

By its invention, by its weapons of war, by its intelligence, civilization became capable of protecting itself, and there came a time when in the struggle between civilization and barbarism the world passed midnight.

Then came another struggle,—the struggle between the people and their rulers.

Most peoples sacrificed their liberty through gratitude to some great soldier who rescued them from the arms of the barbarian. But there came a time when the people said: “We have a right to govern ourselves.” And that conflict has been waged for centuries.

And I say, protected and corroborated by the flag of the greatest of all Republics, that in that conflict the world has passed midnight.

Despotisms were softened by parliaments, by congresses—but at last the world is beginning to say: “The right to govern rests upon the consent of the governed. The power comes from the people—not from kings. It belongs to man, and should be exercised by man.”

In this conflict we have passed midnight. The world is destined to be republican. Those who obey the laws will make the laws.

Our country—the United States—the great Republic—owns the fairest portion of half the world. We have now sixty millions of free people. Look upon the map of our country. Look upon the great valley of the Mississippi—stretching from the Alleghenies to the Rockies. See the great basin drained by that mighty river. There you will see a territory large enough to feed and clothe and educate five hundred millions of human beings.

This country is destined to remain as one. The Mississippi River is Nature’s protest against secession and against division.

We call that nation civilized when its subjects submit their differences of opinion, in accordance with the forms of law, to fellow-citizens who are disinterested and who accept the decision as final.

The nations, however, sustain no such relation to each other. Each nation concludes for itself. Each nation defines its rights and its obligations; and nations will not be civilized in respect of their relations to each other, until there shall have been established a National Court to decide differences between nations, to the judgment of which all shall bow.

It is for the Press—the Press that photographs the human activities of every day—the Press that gives the news of the world to each individual—to bend its mighty energies to the unification and the civilization of mankind; to the destruction of provincialism, of prejudice—to the extirpation of ignorance and to the creation of a great and splendid patriotism that embraces the human race.

The Press presents the daily thoughts of men. It marks the progress of each hour, and renders a relapse into ignorance and barbarism impossible. No catastrophe can be great enough, no ruin wide-spread enough, to engulf or blot out the wisdom of the world.

Feeling that it is called to this high destiny, the Press should appeal only to the highest and to the noblest in the human heart.

It should not be the bat of suspicion, a raven, hoarse with croaking disaster, a chattering jay of gossip, or a vampire fattening on the reputations of men.

It should remain the eagle, rising and soaring high in the cloudless blue, above all mean and sordid things, and grasping only the bolts and arrows of justice.

Let the Press have the courage always to defend the right, always to defend the people—and let it always have the power to clutch and strangle any combination of men, however intellectual or cunning or rich, that feeds and fattens on the flesh and blood of honest men.

In a little while, under our flag there will be five hundred millions of people. The great Republic will then dictate to the world—that is to say, it will succor the oppressed—it will see that justice is done—it will say to the great nations that wish to trample upon the weak: “You must not—you shall not—strike.” It will be obeyed.

All I ask is—all I hope is—that the Press will always be worthy of the great Republic.


New York, April 27, 1888.

     * The tribute at Delmonico’s last night was to the man

Grant as a supreme type of the confidence of the American

Republic in its own strength and destiny. Soldiers over

whose lost cause the wheels of a thousand cannons rolled,

and whose doctrines were ground to dust under the heels of

conquering legions, poured out their souls at the feet of

the great commander. Magnanimity, mercy, faith—these were

the themes of every orator. Christian and Infidel, blue and

gray, Republican and Democrat talked of Grant almost as men

have come to talk of Washington.


And, alas! In the midst of it all, with its soft glow of

lights, its sweet breath of flowers, its throb of music and

bewildering radiance of banners,  there was a vacant chair.

Upon it hung a wreath of green, tied with a knot of white

ribbon. Soldier and statesman and orator walked past that

chair and seemed to reverence it. It was the seat intended

for the trumpet tongued advocate of Grant in war, Grant in

victory, Grant in peace, Grant in adversity—the seat of

Roscoe Conkling. A little later and a clergyman jostled into

the vacant chair and brushed the green circlet to the floor.


Gray and grim old General Sherman presided. About the nine

round, flower heaped tables were grouped the long list of

distinguisned men from every walk or life and from every

section of the country.


Among the speakers was Ex-Minister Edwards Pierrepont who

was one of Grant’s cabinet and who made a long speech, part

of which was devoted to explaining the court etiquette of

dukes and earls and ministers in England, and how an ex-

President of the United States ranks in Europe when an

American Minister helps him out. The rest of the speech

seemed to be an attempt to get up a presidential boom for

the Prince of Wales.


When Mr. Pierrepont sat down, General Sherman explained that

Col. Robert Ingersoll did not want to speak, but a group of

gentlemen lifted the orator up and carried him forward by

main force.—New York Herald, April 28,1888.



GEN. SHERMAN and Gentlemen: I firmly believe that any nation great enough to produce and appreciate a great and splendid man is great enough to keep his memory green. No man admires more than I do men who have struggled and fought for what they believed to be right. I admire General Grant, as well as every soldier who fought in the ranks of the Union,—not simply because they were fighters, not simply because they were willing to march to the mouth of the guns, but because they fought for the greatest cause that can be expressed in human language—the liberty of man. And to-night while General Mahone was speaking, I could not but think that the North was just as responsible for the war as the South. The South upheld and maintained what is known as human slavery, and the North did the same; and do you know, I have always found in my heart a greater excuse for the man who held the slave, and lived on his labor, and profited by the rascality, than I did for a Northern man that went into partnership with him with a distinct understanding that he was to have none of the profits and half of the disgrace. So I say, that, in a larger sense—that is, when we view the question from a philosophic height—the North was as responsible as the South; and when I remember that in this very city, in this very city, men were mobbed simply for advocating the abolition of slavery, I cannot find it in my heart to lay a greater blame upon the South than upon the North. If this had been a war of conquest, a war simply for national aggrandizement, then I should not place General Grant side by side with or in advance of the greatest commanders of the world. But when I remember that every blow was to break a chain, when I remember that the white man was to be civilized at the same time the black man was made free, when I remember that this country was to be made absolutely free, and the flag left without a stain, then I say that the great General who commanded the greatest army ever marshaled in the defence of human rights, stands at the head of the commanders of this world.

There is one other idea,—and it was touched upon and beautifully illustrated by Mr. Depew. I do not believe that a more merciful general than Grant ever drew his sword. All greatness is merciful. All greatness longs to forgive. All true grandeur and nobility is capable of shedding the divine tear of pity.

Let me say one more word in that direction. The man in the wrong defeated, and who sees the justice of his defeat, is a victor; and in this view—and I say it understanding my words fully—the South was as victorious as the North.

No man, in my judgment, is more willing to do justice to all parts of this country than I; but, after all, I have a little sentiment—a little. I admire great and splendid deeds, the dramatic effect of great victories; but even more than that I admire that “touch of nature which makes the whole world kin.” I know the names of Grant’s victories. I know that they shine like stars in the heaven of his fame. I know them all. But there is one thing in the history of that great soldier that touched me nearer and more deeply than any victory he ever won, and that is this: When about to die, he insisted that his dust should be laid in no spot where his wife, when she sleeps in death, could not lie by his side. That tribute to the great and splendid institution that rises above all others, the institution of the family, touched me even more than the glories won upon the fields of war.

And now let me say, General Sherman, as the years go by, in America, as long as her people are great, as long as her people are free, as long as they admire patriotism and courage, as long as they admire deeds of self-denial, as long as they can remember the sacred blood shed for the good of the whole nation, the birthday of General Grant will be celebrated. And allow me to say, gentlemen, that there is another with us to-night whose birthday will be celebrated. Americans of the future, when they read the history of General Sherman, will feel the throb and thrill that all men feel in the presence of the patriotic and heroic.

One word more—when General Grant went to England, when he sat down at the table with the Ministers of her Britannic Majesty, he conferred honor upon them. There is one change I wish to see in the diplomatic service—and I want the example to be set by the great Republic—I want precedence given here in Washington to the representatives of Republics. Let us have some backbone ourselves. Let the representatives of Republics come first and the ambassadors of despots come in next day. In other words, let America be proud of American institutions, proud of a Government by the people. We at last have a history, we at last are a civilized people, and on the pages of our annals are found as glorious names as have been written in any language.


New York, March 22, 1890.

YOU have talked so much of old age and gray hairs and thin locks, so much about the past, that I feel sad. Now, I want to destroy the impression that baldness is a sign of age. The very youngest people I ever saw were bald.

Sometimes I think, and especially when I am at a meeting where they have what they call reminiscences, that a world with death in it is a mistake. What would you think of a man who built a railroad, knowing that every passenger was to be killed—knowing that there was no escape? What would you think of the cheerfulness of the passengers if every one knew that at some station, the name of which had not been called out, there was a hearse waiting for him; backed up there, horses fighting flies, driver whistling, waiting for you? Is it not wonderful that the passengers on that train really enjoy themselves? Is it not magnificent that every one of them, under perpetual sentence of death, after all, can dimple their cheeks with laughter; that we, every one doomed to become dust, can yet meet around this table as full of joy as spring is full of life, as full of hope as the heavens are full of stars?

I tell you we have got a good deal of pluck.

And yet, after all, what would this world be without death? It may be from the fact that we are all victims, from the fact that we are all bound by common fate; it may be that friendship and love are born of that fact; but Whatever the fact is, I am perfectly satisfied that the highest possible philosophy is to enjoy to-day, not regretting yesterday, and not fearing to-morrow. So, let us suck this orange of life dry, so that when death does come, we can politely say to him, “You are welcome to the peelings. What little there was we have enjoyed.”

But there is one splendid thing about the play called Life. Suppose that when you die, that is the end. The last thing that you will know is that you are alive, and the last thing that will happen to you is the curtain, not falling, but the curtain rising on another thought, so that as far as your consciousness is concerned you will and must live forever. No man can remember when he commenced, and no man can remember when he ends. As far as we are concerned we live both eternities, the one past and the one to come, and it is a delight to me to feel satisfied, and to feel in my own heart, that I can never be certain that I have seen the faces I love for the last time.

When I am at such a gathering as this, I almost wish I had had the making of the world. What a world I would have made! In that world unhappiness would have been the only sin; melancholy the only crime; joy the only virtue. And whether there is another world, nobody knows. Nobody can affirm it; nobody can deny it. Nobody can collect tolls from me, claiming that he owns a turnpike, and nobody can certainly say that the crooked path that I follow, beside which many roses are growing, does not lead to that place. He doesn’t know. But if there is such a place, I hope that all good fellows will be welcome.



New York, December 27, 1890.


THE first record of public games is found in the twentythird Book of the Iliad. These games were performed at the funeral of Patroclus, and there were:

First. A chariot race, and the first prize was:

“A woman fair, well skilled in household care.”

Second. There was a pugilistic encounter, and the first prize, appropriately enough, was a mule.

It gave me great pleasure to find that Homer did not hold in high esteem the victor. I have reached this conclusion, because the poet put these words in the mouth of Eppius, the great boxer winding up with the following refined declaration concerning his opponent:

“I mean to pound his flesh and smash his bones.”

After the battle, the defeated was helped from the field. He spit forth clotted gore. His head rolled from side to side, until he fell unconscious.

Third, wrestling; fourth, foot-race; fifth, fencing; sixth, throwing the iron mass or bar; seventh, archery, and last, throwing the javelin.

All of these games were in honor of Patroclus. This is the same Patroclus who, according to Shakespeare, addressed Achilles in these words:

     “In the battle-field I claim no special praise;

     ‘Tis not for man in all things to excel—”


     “Rouse yourself, and the weak wanton Cupid

     Shall from your neck unloose his amorous fold,

     And, like a dew-drop from the lion’s mane,

     Be shook to air.”

These games were all born of the instinct of self-defence. The chariot was used in war. Man should know the use of his hands, to the end that he may repel assault. He should know the use of the sword, to the end that he may strike down his enemy. He should be skillful with the arrow, to the same end. If overpowered, he seeks safety in flight—he should therefore know how to run. So, too, he could preserve himself by the skillful throwing of the javelin, and in the close encounter a knowledge of wrestling might save his life.

Man has always been a fighting animal, and the art of self-defence is nearly as important now as ever—and will be, until man rises to that supreme height from which he will be able to see that no one can commit a crime against another without injuring himself.

The Greeks knew that the body bears a certain relation to the soul—that the better the body—other things being equal—the greater the mind. They also knew that the body could be developed, and that such development would give or add to the health, the courage, the endurance, the self-confidence, the independence and the morality of the human race. They knew, too, that health was the foundation, the corner-stone, of happiness.

They knew that human beings should know something about themselves, something of the capacities of body and mind, to the end that they might ascertain the relation between conduct and happiness, between temperance and health.

It is needless to say that the Greeks were the most intellectual of all races, and that they were in love with beauty, with proportion, with the splendor of the body and of mind; and so great was their admiration for the harmoniously developed, that Sophocles had the honor of walking naked at the head of a great procession.

The Greeks, through their love of physical and mental development, gave us the statues—the most precious of all inanimate things—of far more worth than all the diamonds and rubies and pearls that ever glittered in crowns and tiaras, on altars or thrones, or, flashing, rose and fell on woman’s billowed breast. In these marbles we find the highest types of life, of superb endeavor and supreme repose. In looking at them we feel that blood flows, that hearts throb and souls aspire. These miracles of art are the richest legacies the ancient world has left our race.

The nations in love with life, have games. To them existence is exultation. They are fond of nature. They, seek the woods and streams. They love the winds and waves of the sea. They enjoy the poem of the day, the drama of the year.

Our Puritan fathers were oppressed with a sense of infinite responsibility. They were disconsolate and sad, and no more thought of sport, except the flogging of; Quakers, than shipwrecked wretches huddled on a raft would turn their attention to amateur theatricals.

For many centuries the body was regarded as a decaying; casket, in which had been placed the gem called the soul, and the nearer rotten the casket the more brilliant the jewel.

In those blessed days, the diseased were sainted and insanity born of fasting and self-denial and abuse of the body, was looked upon as evidence of inspiration. Cleanliness was not next to godliness—it was the opposite; and in those days, what was known as “the odor of sanctity” had a substantial foundation. Diseased bodies produced all kinds of mental maladies. There is a direct relation between sickness and superstition. Everybody knows that Calvinism was the child of indigestion.

Spooks and phantoms hover about the undeveloped and diseased, as vultures sail above the dead.

Our ancestors had the idea that they ought to be spiritual, and that good health was inconsistent with the highest forms of piety. This heresy crept into the minds even of secular writers, and the novelists described their heroines as weak and languishing, pale as lilies, and in the place of health’s brave flag they put the hectic flush.

Weakness was interesting, and fainting captured the hearts of all. Nothing was so attractive as a society belle with a drug-store attachment.

People became ashamed of labor, and consequently, of the evidences of labor. They avoided “sun-burnt mirth”—were proud of pallor, and regarded small, white hands as proof that they had noble blood within their veins. It was a joy to be too weak to work, too languishing to labor.

The tide has turned. People are becoming sensible enough to desire health, to admire physical development, symmetry of form, and we now know that a race with little feet and hands has passed the climax and is traveling toward the eternal night.

When the central force is strong, men and women are full of life to the finger tips. When the fires burn low, they begin to shrivel at the extremities—the hands and feet grow small, and the mental flame wavers and wanes.

To be self-respecting we must be self-supporting.

Nobility is a question of character, not of birth.

Honor cannot be received as alms—it must be earned.

It is the brow that makes the wreath of glory green.

All exercise should be for the sake of development—that is to say, for the sake of health, and for the sake of the mind—all to the end that the person may become better, greater, more useful. The gymnast or the athelete should seek for health as the student should seek for truth; but when athletics degenerate into mere personal contests, they become dangerous, because the contestants lose sight of health, as in the excitement of debate the students prefer personal victory to the ascertainment of truth.

There is another thing to be avoided by all athletic clubs, and that is, anything that tends to brutalize, destroy or dull the finer feelings. Nothing is more disgusting, more disgraceful, than pugilism—nothing more demoralizing than an exhibition of strength united with ferocity, and where the very body developed by exercise is mutilated and disfigured.

Sports that can by no possibility give pleasure, except to the unfeeling, the hardened and the really brainless, should be avoided. No gentleman should countenance rabbit-coursing, fighting of dogs, the shooting of pigeons, simply as an exhibition of skill.

All these things are calculated to demoralize and brutalize not only the actors, but the lookers on. Such sports are savage, fit only to be participated in and enjoyed by the cannibals of Central Africa or the anthropoid apes.

Find what a man enjoys—what he laughs at—what he calls diversion—and you know what he is. Think of a man calling himself civilized, who is in raptures at a bull fight—who smiles when he sees the hounds pursue and catch and tear in pieces the timid hare, and who roars with laughter when he watches the pugilists pound each other’s faces, closing each other’s eyes, breaking jaws and smashing noses. Such men are beneath the animals they torture—on a level with the pugilists they applaud. Gentlemen should hold such sports in unspeakable contempt. No man finds pleasure in inflicting pain.

In every public school there should be a gymnasium.

It is useless to cram minds and deform bodies. Hands should be educated as well as heads. All should be taught the sports and games that require mind, muscle, nerve and judgment.

Even those who labor should take exercise, to the end that the whole body may be developed. Those who work at one employment become deformed. Proportion is lost. But where harmony is preserved by the proper exercise, even old age is beautiful.

To the well developed, to the strong, life seems rich, obstacles small, and success easy. They laugh at cold and storm. Whatever the season may be their hearts are filled with summer.

Millions go from the cradle to the coffin without knowing what it is to live. They simply succeed in postponing death. Without appetites, without passions, without struggle, they slowly rot in a waveless pool. They never know the glory of success, the rapture of the fight.

To become effeminate is to invite misery. In the most delicate bodies may be found the most degraded souls. It was the Duchess Josiane whose pampered flesh became so sensitive that she thought of hell as a place where people were compelled to sleep between coarse sheets.

We need the open air—we need the experience of heat and cold. We need not only the rewards and caresses, but the discipline of our mother Nature. Life is not all sunshine, neither is it all storm, but man should be enabled to enjoy the one and to withstand the other.

I believe in the religion of the body—of physical development—in devotional exercise—in the beatitudes of cheerfulness, good health, good food, good clothes, comradeship, generosity, and above all, in happiness. I believe in salvation here and now. Salvation from deformity and disease—from weakness and pain—from ennui and insanity. I believe in heaven here and now—the heaven of health and good digestion—of strength and long life—of usefulness and joy. I believe in the builders and defenders of homes.

The gentlemen whom we honor to-night have done a great work. To their energy we are indebted for the nearest perfect, for the grandest athletic clubhouse in the world. Let these clubs multiply. Let the example be followed, until our country is filled with physical and intellectual athletes—superb fathers, perfect mothers, and every child an heir to health and joy.


New York, April 2, 1891


IT is probable that I was selected to speak about music, because, not knowing one note from another, I have no prejudice on the subject.

All I can say is, that I know what I like, and, to tell the truth, I like every kind, enjoy it all, from the hand organ to the orchestra.

Knowing nothing of the science of music, I am not always looking for defects, or listening for discords. As the young robin cheerfully swallows whatever comes, I hear with gladness all that is played.

Music has been, I suppose, a gradual growth, subject to the law of evolution; as nearly everything, with the possible exception of theology, has been and is under this law.

Music may be divided into three kinds: First, the music of simple time, without any particular emphasis—and this may be called the music of the heels; second, music in which time is varied, in which there is the eager haste and the delicious delay, that is, the fast and slow, in accordance with our feelings, with our emotions—and this may be called the music of the heart; third, the music that includes time and emphasis, the hastening and the delay, and something in addition, that produces not only states of feeling, but states of thought. This may be called the music of the head,—the music of the brain.

Music expresses feeling and thought, without language. It was below and before speech, and it is above and beyond all words. Beneath the waves is the sea—above the clouds is the sky.

Before man found a name for any thought, or thing, he had hopes and fears and passions, and these were rudely expressed in tones.

Of one thing, however, I am certain, and that is, that Music was born of Love. Had there never been any human affection, there never could have been uttered a strain of music. Possibly some mother, looking in the eyes of her babe, gave the first melody to the enraptured air.

Language is not subtle enough, tender enough, to express all that we feel; and when language fails, the highest and deepest longings are translated into music. Music is the sunshine—the climate—of the soul, and it floods the heart with a perfect June.

I am also satisfied that the greatest music is the most marvelous mingling of Love and Death. Love is the greatest of all passions, and Death is its shadow. Death gets all its terror from Love, and Love gets its intensity, its radiance, its glory and its rapture, from the darkness of Death. Love is a flower that grows on the edge of the grave.

The old music, for the most part, expresses emotion, or feeling-, through time and emphasis, and what is known as melody. Most of the old operas consist of a few melodies connected by unmeaning recitative. There should be no unmeaning music. It is as though a writer should suddenly leave his subject and write a paragraph consisting of nothing but a repetition of one word like “the,” “the,” “the,” or “if,” “if.” “if,” varying the repetition of these words, but without meaning,—and then resume the subject of his article.

I am not saying that great music was not produced before Wagner, but I am simply endeavoring to show-the steps that have been taken. It was necessary that all the music should have been written, in order that the greatest might be produced. The same is true of the drama, Thousands and thousands prepared the way for the supreme dramatist, as millions prepared the way for the supreme composer.

When I read Shakespeare, I am astonished that he has expressed so much with common words, to which he gives new meaning; and so when I hear Wagner, I exclaim: Is it possible that all this is done with common air?

In Wagner’s music there is a touch of chaos that suggests the infinite. The melodies seem strange and changing forms, like summer clouds, and weird harmonies come like sounds from the sea brought by fitful winds, and others moan like waves on desolate shores, and mingled with these, are shouts of joy, with sighs and sobs and ripples of laughter, and the wondrous voices of eternal love.

Wagner is the Shakespeare of Music.

The funeral march for Siegfried is the funeral music for all the dead; Should all the gods die, this music would be perfectly appropriate. It is elemental, universal, eternal.

The love-music in Tristan and Isolde is, like Romeo and Juliet, an expression of the human heart for all time. So the love-duet in The Flying Dutchman has in it the consecration, the infinite self-denial, of love. The whole heart is given; every note has wings, and rises and poises like an eagle in the heaven of sound.

When I listen to the music of Wagner, I see pictures, forms, glimpses of the perfect, the swell of a hip, the wave of a breast, the glance of an eye. I am in the midst of great galleries. Before me are passing, the endless panoramas. I see vast landscapes with valleys of verdure and vine, with soaring crags, snow-crowned. I am on the wide seas, where countless billows burst into the white caps of joy. I am in the depths of caverns roofed with mighty crags, while through some rent I see the eternal stars. In a moment the music, becomes a river of melody, flowing through some wondrous land; suddenly it falls in strange chasms, and the mighty cataract is changed to seven-hued foam. .

Great music is always sad, because it tells us of the perfect; and such is the difference between what we are and that which music suggests, that even in the vase of joy we find some tears.

The music of Wagner has color, and when I hear the violins, the morning seems to slowly come. A horn puts a star above the horizon. The night, in the purple hum of the bass, wanders away like some enormous bee across wide fields of dead clover. The light grows whiter as the violins increase. Colors come from other instruments, and then the full orchestra floods the world with day.

Wagner seems not only to have given us new tones, new combinations, but the moment the orchestra begins to play his music, all the instruments are transfigured. They seem to utter the sounds that they have been longing to utter. The horns run riot; the drums and cymbals join in the general joy; the old bass viols are alive with passion; the ‘cellos throb with love; the violins are seized with a divine fury, and the notes rush out as eager for the air as pardoned prisoners for the roads and fields.

The music of Wagner is filled with landscapes. There are some strains, like midnight, thick with constellations, and there are harmonies like islands in the far seas, and others like palms on the desert’s edge. His music satisfies the heart and brain. It is not only for memory; not only for the present, but for prophecy.

Wagner was a sculptor, a painter, in sound. When he died, the greatest fountain of melody that ever enchanted the world, ceased. His music will instruct and refine forever.

All that I know about the operas of Wagner I have learned from Anton Seidl. I believe that he is the noblest, tenderest and the most artistic interpreter of the great composer that has ever lived.


New York, December 1, 1891

     * There was a notable gathering of leading artists, authors,

scientists, journalists, lawyer, clergymen and other

professional men at Sherry’s last evening. The occasion was

a dinner tendered to Mr. F. B. Carpenter, the famous

portrait and portrait group artist, by his immediate friends

to celebrate the completion of his new historical painting,

entitled “International Arbitration,” which is to be sent to

Queen Victoria next week as the gift of a wealthy American

lady. No such tribute has ever been paid before to an artist

of-this country. Let us hope that the extraordinary

attention thus paid to Mr. Carpenter will give our “English

cousins” some idea of how he is prized and his work indorsed

at home. The dinner to Mr. Carpenter was a great success—

most enjoyable in every way. The table was laid in the form

ol a horse shoe with a train of smilax, and sweet flowers

extending the entire length of the table, amid pots of

chrysanthemums and roses. Ex-Minister Andrew D White

presided in the absence of John Russell


Young……….Mr. White said: “During the entire course of

these proceedings we have been endeavoring to find a

representative of the great Fourth Estate who would present

its claims in relation to arbitration on this occasion.

There are present men whose names are household words in

connection with the press throughout this land. There is

certainly one distinguished as orator: there is another

distinguished as a scholar. But they prefer to be silent. We

will therefore consider that the toast of ‘The Press in

Connection with War and Peace’ has been duly honored

although it has not been responded to, and now there is one

subject which I think you will consider as coming strangely

at this late hour. It is a renewal of the subject with which

we began, and I am to ask to speak to it a man who is

admired and feared throughout the country. At one moment he

smashes the most cherished convictions of the country, and

at another he raises our highest aspirations for the future

of humanity.


“It happened several years ago that I was crossing the

Atlantic, and when I had sufficiently recovered from

seasickness to sit out on the deck I came across Colonel

Ingersoll, and of all subjects of discussion you can imagine

we fell upon the subject of art, and we went at it hot and

heavy. So I said to him to-night that I had a rod in pickle

for him and that he was not to know anything about it until

it was displayed.


“I now call upon him to talk to us about art, and if he

talks now as he talked on the deck of the steamer I do not

know whether it would clear the room, but it would make a

sensation in this State and country. I have great pleasure

in announcing Colonel Ingersoll, to speak on the subject of

art—or on any other subject, for no matter upon what he

speaks his words are always welcome.”


New York Press, December 2, 1891.



I PRESUME I take about as much interest in what that picture represents as anybody else. I believe that it has been said this evening that the world will never be civilized so long as differences between nations are settled by gun or cannon or sword. Barbarians still settle their personal differences with clubs or arms, and finally, when they agree to submit their differences to their peers, to a court, we call them civilized. Now, nations sustain the same relations to each other that barbarians sustain; that is, they settle their differences by force; each nation being the judge of the righteousness of its cause, and its judgment depending entirely—or for the most part—on its strength; and the strongest nation is the nearest right. Now, until nations submit their differences to an international court—a court with the power to carry its judgment into effect by having the armies and navies of all the rest of the world pledged to support it—the world will not be civilized. Our differences will not be settled by arbitration until more of the great nations set the example, and until that is done, I am in favor of the United States being armed. Until that is done it will give me joy to know that another magnificent man-of-war has been launched upon our waters. And I will tell you why. Look again at that picture. There is another face; it is not painted there, and yet without it that picture would not have been painted, and that is the face of U. S. Grant. The olive branch, to be of any force, to be of any beneficent power, must be offered by the mailed hand. It must be offered by a nation which has back of the olive branch the force. It cannot be offered by weakness, because then it will excite only ridicule. The powerful, the imperial, must offer that branch. Then it will be accepted in the true spirit; otherwise not. So, until the world is a little more civilized I am in favor of the largest guns that can be made and the best navy that floats. I do not want any navy unless we have the best, because if you have a poor one you will simply make a present of it to the enemy as soon as war opens. We should be ready to defend ourselves against the world. Not that I think there is going to be any war, but because I think that is the best way to prevent it. Until the whole world shall have entered into the same spirit as the artist when he painted that picture, until that spirit becomes general we have got to be prepared for war. And we cannot depend upon war suasion. If a fleet of men-of-war should sail into our harbor, talk would not be of any good; we must be ready to answer them in their own way.

I suppose I have been selected to speak on art because I can speak on that subject without prejudice, knowing nothing about it. I have on this subject no hobbies, no pet theories, and consequently will give you not what I know, but what I think. I am an Agnostic in many things, and the way I understand art is this: In the first place we are all invisible to each other. There is something called soul; something that thinks and hopes and loves. It is never seen. It occupies a world that we call the brain, and is forever, so far as we know, invisible. Each soul lives in a world of its own, and it endeavors to communicate with another soul living in a world of its own, each invisible to the other, and it does this in a variety of ways. That is the noblest art which expresses the noblest thought, that gives to another the noblest emotions that this unseen soul has. In order to do this we have to seize upon the seen, the visible. In other words, nature is a vast dictionary that we use simply to convey from one invisible world to another what happens in our invisible world. The man that lives in the greatest world and succeeds in letting other worlds know what happens in his world, is the greatest artist.

I believe that all arts have the same father and the same mother, and no matter whether you express what happens in these unseen worlds in mere words—because nearly all pictures have been made with words—or whether you express it in marble, or form and color in what we call painting, it is to carry on that commerce between these invisible worlds, and he is the greatest artist who expresses the tenderest, noblest thoughts to the unseen worlds about him. So that all art consists in this commerce, every soul being an artist and every brain that is worth talking about being an art gallery, and there is no gallery in this world, not in the Vatican or the Louvre or any other place, comparable with the gallery in every great brain. The millions of pictures that are in every brain to-night; the landscapes, the faces, the groups, the millions of millions of millions of things that are now living here in every brain, all unseen, all invisible forever! Yet we communicate with each other by showing each other these pictures, these studies, and by inviting others into our galleries and showing them what we have, and the greatest artist is he who has the most pictures to show to other artists.

I love anything in art that suggests the tender, the beautiful. What is beauty? Of course there is no absolute beauty. All beauty is relative. Probably the most beautiful thing to a frog is the speckled belly of another frog, or to a snake the markings of another snake. So there is no such thing as absolute beauty. But what I call beauty is what suggests to me the highest and the tenderest thought; something that answers to something in my world. So every work of art has to be born in some brain, and it must be made by the unseen artist we call the soul. Now, if a man simply copies what he sees, he is nothing but a copyist. That does not require genius. That requires industry and the habit of observation. But it is not genius; it is not art. Those little daubs and shreds and patches we get by copying, are pieces of iron that need to be put into the flame of genius to be molten and then cast in noble forms; otherwise there is no genius.

The great picture should have, not only the technical part of art, which is neither moral nor immoral, but in addition some great thought, some great event. It should contain not only a history but a prophecy. There should be in it soul, feeling, thought I love those little pictures of the home, of the fireside, of the old lady, boiling the kettle, the vine running over the cottage door, scenes suggesting to me happiness, contentment. I think more of them than of the great war pieces, and I hope I shall have a few years in some such scenes, during which I shall not care what time it is, what day of the week or month it is. Just that feeling of content when it is enough to live, to breathe, to have the blue sky above you and to hear the music of the water. All art that gives us that content, that delight, enriches this world and makes life better and holier.

That, in a general kind of way, as I said before, is my idea of art, and I hope that the artists of America—and they ought to be as good here as in any place on earth—will grow day by day and year by year independent of all other art in the world, and be true to the American or republican spirit always. As to this picture, it is representative, it is American. There is one word Mr. Daniel Dougherty said to which I would like to refer. I have never said very much in my life in defence of England, at the same time I have never blamed England for being against us during our war, and I will tell you why. We had been a nation of hypocrites. We pretended to be in favor of liberty and yet we had four or five millions of our people enslaved. That was a very awkward position. We had bloodhounds to hunt human beings and the apostles setting them on; and while this was going on these poor wretches sought and found liberty on British soil. Now, why not be honest about it? We were rather a contemptible people, though Mr. Dougherty thinks the English were wholly at fault. But England abolished the slave-trade in 1803; she abolished slavery in her colonies in 1833. We were lagging behind. That is all there is about it. No matter why, we put ourselves in the position of pretending to be a free people while we had millions of slaves, and it was only natural that England should dislike it.

I think the chairman said that there had been no great historic picture of the signing of the Constitution. There never should be, never! It was fit, it was proper, to have a picture of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. That was an honest document. Our people wanted to give a good reason for fighting Great Britain, and in order to do that they had to dig down to the bed-rock of human rights, and then they said all men are created equal. But just as soon as we got our independence we made a Constitution that gave the lie to the Declaration of Independence, and that is why the signing of the Constitution never ought to be painted. We put in that Constitution a clause that the slave-trade should not be interfered with for years, and another clause that this entire Government was pledged to hand back to slavery any poor woman with a child at her breast, seeking freedom by flight. It was a very poor document. A little while ago they celebrated the one hundredth anniversary of that business and talked about the Constitution being such a wonderful thing; yet what was in that Constitution brought on the most terrible civil war ever known, and during that war they said: “Give us the Constitution as it is and the Union as it was.” And I said then: “Curse the Constitution as it is and the Union as it was. Don’t talk to me about fighting for a Constitution that has brought on a war like this; let us make a new one.” No, I am in favor of a painting that would celebrate the adoption of the amendment to the Constitution that declares that there shall be no more slavery on this soil.

I believe that we are getting a little more free every day—a little more sensible all the time. A few years ago a woman in Germany made a speech, in which she asked: “Why should the German mother in pain and agony give birth to a child and rear that child through industry and poverty, and teach him that when he arrives at the age of twenty-one it will be his duty to kill the child of the French mother? And why should the French mother teach her son, that it will be his duty sometime to kill the child of the German mother?” There is more sense in that than in all the diplomacy I ever read, and I think the time is coming when that question will be asked by every mother—Why should she raise a child to kill the child of another mother?

The time is coming when we will do away with all this. Man has been taught that he ought to fight for the country where he was born; no matter about that country being wrong, whether it supported him or not, whether it enslaved him and trampled on every right he had, still it was his duty to march up in support of that country. The time will come when the man will make up his mind himself whether the country is worth while fighting for, and he is the greatest patriot who seeks to make his country worth fighting for, and not he who says, I am for it anyhow, whether it is right or not. These patriots will be the force Mr. George was speaking about. If war between this country and Great Britain were declared, and there were men in both countries sufficient to take a right view of it, that would be the end of war. The thing would be settled by arbitration—settled by some court—and no one would dream of rushing to the field of battle. So, that is my hope for the world; more policy, more good, solid, sound sense and less mud patriotism.

I think that this country is going to grow. I think it will take in Mr. Wiman’s country. I do not mean that we are going to take any country. I mean that they are going to come to us. I do not believe in conquest. Canada will come just as soon as it is to her interest to come, and I think she will come or be a great country to herself. I do not believe in those people, intelligent as they are, sending three thousand miles for information they have at home. I do not believe in their being governed by anybody except themselves. So if they come we shall be glad to have them, if they don’t want to come I don’t want them.

Yes, we are growing. I don’t know how many millions of people we have now, probably over sixty-two if they all get counted; and they are still coming. I expect to live to see one hundred millions here. I know some say that we are getting too many foreigners, but I say the more that come the better. We have got to have somebody to take the places of the sons of our rich people. So I say let them come. There is plenty of land here, everywhere. I say to the people of every country, come; do your work here, and we will protect you against other countries. We will give you all the work to supply yourselves and your neighbors.

Then if we have differences with another country we shall have a strong navy, big ships, big guns, magnificent men and plenty of them, and if we put out the hand of fellowship and friendship they will know there is no foolishness about it. They will know we are not asking any favor. We will just say: We want peace, and we tell you over the glistening leaves of this olive branch that if you don’t compromise we will mop the earth with you.

That is the sort of arbitration I believe in, and it is the only sort, in my judgment, that will be effectual for all time. And I hope that we may still grow, and grow more and more artistic, and more and more in favor of peace, and I pray that we may finally arrive at being absolutely worthy of having presented that picture, with all that it implies, to the most warlike nation in the world—to the nation that first sends the gospel and then the musket immediately after, and says: You have got to be civilized, and the only evidence of civilization that you can give is to buy our goods and to buy them now, and to pay for them. I wish us to be worthy of the picture presented to such a nation, and my prayer is that America may be worthy to have sent such a token in such a spirit, and my second prayer is that England may be worthy to receive it and to keep it, and that she may receive it in the same spirit that it is sent.

I am glad that it is to be sent by a woman. The gentleman who spoke to the toast, “Woman as a Peacemaker,” seemed to believe that woman brought all the sorrows that ever happened, not only of war, but troubles of every kind. I want to say to him that I would rather live with the woman I love in a world of war, in a world full of troubles and sorrows, than to live in heaven with nobody but men. I believe that woman is a peacemaker, and so I am glad that a woman presents this token to another woman; and woman is a far higher title than queen, in my judgment; far higher. There are no higher titles than woman, mother, wife, sister, and when they come to calling them countesses and duchesses and queens, that is all rot. That adds nothing to that unseen artist who inhabits the world called the brain. That unseen artist is great by nature and cannot be made greater by the addition of titles. And so one woman gives to another woman the picture that prophesies war is finally to cease, and the civilized nations of the world will henceforth arbitrate their differences and no longer strew the plains with corpses of brethren. That is the supreme lesson that is taught by this picture, and I congratulate Mr. Carpenter that his name is associated with it and also with the “Proclamation of Emancipation.” In the latter work he has associated his name with that of Lincoln, which is the greatest name in history, and the gentlest memory in this world. Mr. Carpenter has associated his name with that and with this and with that of General Grant, for I say that this picture would never have been possible had there not been behind it Grant; if there had not been behind it the victorious armies of the North and the great armies of the South, that would have united instantly to repel any foreign foe.


New York, January 15, 1892.


MR. PRESIDENT, Ladies and Gentlemen: In the first place, I wish to tender my thanks to this club for having generosity and sense enough to invite me to speak this evening. It is probably the best thing the club has ever done. You have shown that you are not afraid of a man simply because he does not happen to agree entirely with you, although in a very general way it may be said that I come within one of you.

So I think, not only that you have honored me—that, I most cheerfully and gratefully admit—but, upon my word, I think that you have honored yourselves. And imagine the distance the religious world has traveled in the last few years to make a thing of this kind possible! You know—I presume every one of you knows—that I have no religion—not enough to last a minute—none whatever—that is, in the ordinary sense of that word. And yet you have become so nearly civilized that you are willing to hear what I have to say; and I have become so nearly civilized that I am willing to say what I think.

And, in the second place, let me say that I have great respect for the UnitarianChurch. I have great respect for the memory of Theodore Parker. I have great respect for every man who has assisted in reaving the heavens of an infinite monster. I have great respect for every man who has helped to put out the fires of hell. In other words, I have great respect for every man who has tried to civilize my race.

The Unitarian Church has done more than any other church—and may be more than all other churches—to substitute character for creed, and to say that a man should be judged by his spirit; by the climate of his heart; by the autumn of his generosity; by the spring of his hope; that he should be judged by what he does; by the influence that he exerts, rather than by the mythology he may believe. And whether there be one God or a million, I am perfectly satisfied that every duty that devolves upon me is within my reach; it is something that I can do myself, without the help of anybody else, either in this world or any other.

Now, in order to make myself plain on this subject—I think I was to speak about the Ideal—I want to thank the UnitarianChurch for what it has done; and I want to thank the UniversalistChurch, too. They at least believe in a God who is a gentleman; and that is much more than was ever done by an orthodox church. They believe, at least, in a heavenly father who will leave the latch string out until the last child gets home; and as that lets me in—especially in reference to the “last”—I have great respect for that church.

But now I am coming to the Ideal; and in what I may say you may not all agree. I hope you won’t, because that would be to me evidence that I am wrong. You cannot expect everybody to agree in the right, and I cannot expect to be always in the right myself. I have to judge with the standard called my reason, and I do not know whether it is right or not; I will admit that. But as opposed to any other man’s, I will bet on mine. That is to say, for home use. In the first place, I think it is said in some book—and if I am wrong there are plenty here to correct me—that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” I think a knowledge of the limitations of the human mind is the beginning of wisdom, and, I may almost say, the end of it—really to understand yourself.

Now, let me lay down this proposition. The imagination of man has the horizon of experience; and beyond experience or nature man cannot go, even in imagination. Man is not a creator. He combines; he adds together; he divides; he subtracts; he does not create, even in the world of imagination. Let me make myself a little plainer: Not one here—not one in the wide, wide world can think of a color that he never saw. No human being can imagine a sound that he has not heard, and no one can think of a taste that he has not experienced. He can add to—that is add together—combine; but he cannot, by any possibility, create.

Man originally, we will say—go back to the age of barbarism, and you will not have to go far; our own childhood, probably, is as far as is necessary—but go back to what is called the age of savagery; every man was an idealist, as every man is to-day an idealist. Every man in savage or civilized time, commencing with the first that ever crawled out of a cave and pushed the hair back from his forehead to look at the sun—commence with him and end with Judge Wright—the last expression on the God question—and from that cave to the soul that lives in this temple, everyone has been an idealist and has endeavored to account in some way for what he saw and for what he felt; in other words, for the phenomena of nature. The easiest way to account for it by the rudest savage, is the way it has been accounted for to-night. What makes the river run? There’s a god in it. What makes the tree grow? There’s a god in it. What makes the star shine? There’s a god in it. What makes the sun rise? Why, he is a god himself. And what makes the nightingale sing until the air is faint with melody? There’s a god in it.

They commenced making gods to account for everything that happens; gods of dreams and gods of love and friendship, and heroism and courage. Splendid! They kept making more and more. The more they found out in nature, up to a certain point, the more gods they needed; and they kept on making gods until almost every wave of the sea bore a god. Gods on every mountain, and in every vale and field, and by every stream! Gods in flowers, gods in grass; gods everywhere! All accounting for this world and for what happened in this world.

Then, when they had got about to the top, when their ingenuity had been exhausted, they had not produced anything, and they did not produce anything beyond their own experience. We are told that they were idolaters. That is a mistake, except in the sense that we are all idolaters. They said, “Here is a god; let us express our idea of him. He is stronger than a man; let us give him the body of a lion. He is swifter than a man; let us give him the wings of an eagle. He is wiser than a man”—and when a man was very savage he said, “let us give him the head of a serpent;” a serpent is wonderfully wise; he travels without feet; he climbs without claws; he lives without food, and he is of the simplest conceivable form.

And that was simply to represent their idea of power, of swiftness, of wisdom. And yet this impossible monster was simply made of what man had seen in nature, and he put the various attributes or parts together by his imagination. He created nothing. He simply took these parts of certain beasts, when beasts were supposed to be superior to man in some particulars, and in that way expressed his thought.

You go into the territory of Arizona to-day, and you will find there pictures of God. He was clothed in stone, through which no arrow could pierce, and so they called God the Stone-Shirted whom no Indian could kill. That was for the simple and only reason that it was impossible to get an arrow through his armor. They got the idea from the armadillo.

Now, I am simply saying this to show that they were making gods for all these centuries, and making them out of something they found in nature. Then, after they got through with the beast business, they made gods after the image of man; and they are the best gods, so far as I know, that have been made.

The gods that were first made after the image of man were not made after the pattern of very good men; but they were good men according to the standard of that time, because, as I will show you in a moment, all these things are relative. The qualities or things that we call mercy, justice, charity and religion are all relative. There was a time when the victor on the field of battle was exceedingly merciful if he failed to eat his prisoner; he was regarded as a very charitable gentleman if he refused to eat the man he had captured in battle. Afterward he was regarded as an exceedingly benevolent person if he would spare a prisoner’s life and make him a slave.

So that—but you all know it as well as I do or you would not be Unitarians—all this has been simply a growth from year to year, from generation to generation, from age to age. And let me tell you the first thing about these gods that they made after the image of men. After a time there were men on the earth who were better than these gods in heaven.

Then those gods began to die, one after another, and dropped from their thrones. The time will probably come in the history of this world when an insurance company can calculate the average life of gods as well as they do now of men; because all these gods have been made by folks. And, let me say right here, the folks did the best they could. I do not blame them. Everybody in the business has always done his best. I admit it. I admit that man has traveled from the first conception up to Unitarianism by a necessary road. Under the conditions he could have come up in no other way. I admit all that. I blame nobody. But I am simply trying to tell, in a very feeble manner, how it is.

Now, in a little while, I say, men got better than their gods. Then the gods began to die. Then we began to find out a few things in nature, and we found out that we were supporting more gods than were necessary—that fewer gods could do the business—and that, from an economical point of view, expenses ought to be cut down. There were too many temples, too many priests, and you always had to give tithes of something to each one, and these gods were about to eat up the substance of the world.

And there came a time when it got to that point that either the gods would eat up the people or the people must destroy some gods, and of course they destroyed the gods—one by one and in their places they put forces of nature to do the business—forces of nature that needed no church, that needed no theologians; forces of nature that you are under no obligation to; that you do not have to pay anything to keep working. We found that the attraction of gravitation would attend to its business, night and day, at its own expense. There was a great saving. I wish it were the same with all kinds of law, so that we could all go into some useful business, including myself.

So day by day, they dispensed with this expense of deities; and the world got along just as well—a good deal better. They used to think—a community thought—that if a man was allowed to say a word against a deity, the god would visit his vengeance upon the entire nation. But they found out, after a while, that no harm came of it; so they went on destroying the gods. Now, all these things are relative; and they made gods a little better all the time—I admit that—till we struck the Presbyterian, which is probably the worst ever made. The Presbyterians seem to have bred back.

But no matter. As man became more just, or nearer just, as he became more charitable, or nearer charitable, his god grew to be a little better and a little better. He was very bad in Geneva—the three that we then had. They were very bad in Scotland—horrible! Very bad in New England—infamous! I might as well tell the truth about it—very bad! And then men went to work, finally, to civilize their gods, to civilize heaven, to give heaven the benefit of the freedom of this brave world. That’s what we did. We wanted to civilize religion—civilize what is known as Christianity. And nothing on earth needed civilization more; and nothing needs it more than that to-night. Civilization! I am not so much for the freedom of religion as I am for the religion of freedom.

Now, there was a time when our ancestors—good people, away back, all dead, no great regret expressed at this meeting on that account—there was a time when our ancestors were happy in their belief that nearly everybody was to be lost, and that a few, including themselves, were to be saved. That religion, I say, fitted that time. It fitted their geology. It was a very good running mate for their astronomy. It was a good match for their chemistry. In other words, they were about equal in every department of human ignorance.

And they insisted that there lived up there somewhere—generally up—exactly where nobody has, I believe, yet said—a being, an infinite person “without body, parts, or passions,” and yet without passions he was angry at the wicked every day; without body he inhabited a certain place; and without parts he was, after all, in some strange and miraculous manner, organized so that he thought.

And I don’t know that it is possible for anyone here—I don’t know that anyone here is gifted with imagination enough—to conceive of such a being. Our fathers had not imagination enough to do so, at least, and so they said of this God, that he loves and he hates; he punishes and he rewards; and that religion has been described perfectly tonight by Judge Wright as really making God a monster, and men poor, helpless victims. And the highest possible conception of the orthodox man was, finally, to be a good servant—just lucky enough to get in—feathers somewhat singed, but enough left to fly. That was the idea of our fathers. And then came these divisions, simply because men began to think.

And why did they begin to think? Because in every direction, in all departments, they were getting more and more information. And then the religion did not fit. When they found out something of the history of this globe they found out that the Scriptures were not true. I will not say not inspired, because I do not know whether they are inspired or not. It is a question, to me, of no possible importance, whether they are inspired or not. The question is: Are they true? If they are true, they do not need inspiration; and if they are not true, inspiration will not help them. So that is a matter that I care nothing about.

On every hand, I say, they studied and thought. They began to grow—to have new ideas of mercy, kindness, justice; new ideas of duty—new ideas of life. The old gods, after we got past the civilization of the Greeks, past their mythology—and it is the best mythology that man has ever made—after we got past that, I say, the gods cared very little about women. Women occupied no place in the state—no place by the hearth, except one of subordination, and almost of slavery. So the early churches made God after that image who held women in contempt. It was only natural—I am not blaming anybody—they had to do it, it was part of the must!

Now, I say that we have advanced up to the point that we demand not only intelligence, but justice and mercy, in the sky; we demand that—that idea of God. Then comes my trouble. I want to be honest about it. Here is my trouble—and I want it also understood that if I should see a man praying to a stone image or to a stuffed serpent, with that man’s wife or daughter or son lying at the point of death, and that poor savage on his knees imploring that image or that stuffed serpent to save his child or his wife, there is nothing in my heart that could suggest the slightest scorn, or any other feeling than that of sympathy; any other feeling than that of grief that the stuffed serpent could not answer the prayer and that the stone image did not feel; I want that understood. And wherever man prays for the right—no matter to whom or to what he prays; where he prays for strength to conquer the wrong, I hope his prayer may be heard; and if I think there is no one else to hear it I will hear it, and I am willing to help answer it to the extent of my power.

So I want it distinctly understood that that is my feeling. But here is my trouble: I find this world made on a very cruel plan. I do not say it is wrong—I just say that that is the way it seems to me. I may be wrong myself, because this is the only world I was ever in; I am provincial. This grain of sand and tear they call the earth is the only world I have ever lived in. And you have no idea how little I know about the rest of this universe; you never will know how little I know about it until you examine your own minds on the same subject.

The plan is this: Life feeds on life. Justice does not always triumph: Innocence is not a perfect shield. There is my trouble. No matter now, whether you agree with me or not; I beg of you to be honest and fair with me in your thought, as I am toward you in mine.

I hope, as devoutly as you, that there is a power somewhere in this universe that will finally bring everything as it should be. I take a little consolation in the “perhaps”—in the guess that this is only one scene of a great drama, and that when the curtain rises on the fifth act, if I live that long, I may see the coherence and the relation of things. But up to the present writing—or speaking—I do not. I do not understand it—a God that has life feed on life; every joy in the world born of some agony! I do not understand why in this world, over the Niagara of cruelty, should run this ocean of blood. I do not understand it. And, then, why does not justice always triumph? Why is not innocence a perfect shield? These are my troubles.

Suppose a man had control of the atmosphere, knew enough of the secrets of nature, had read enough in “nature’s infinite book of secrecy” so that he could control the wind and rain; suppose a man had that power, and suppose that last year he kept the rain from Russia and did not allow the crops to ripen when hundreds of thousands were famishing and when little babes were found with their lips on the breasts of dead mothers! What would you think of such a man? Now, there is my trouble. If there be a God he understood this. He knew when he withheld his rain that the famine would come. He saw the dead mothers, he saw the empty breasts of death, and he saw the helpless babes. There is my trouble. I am perfectly frank with you and honest. That is my trouble.

Now, understand me! I do not say there is no God. I do not know. As I told you before, I have traveled but very little—only in this world.

I want it understood that I do not pretend to know. I say I think. And in my mind the idea expressed by Judge Wright so eloquently and so beautifully is not exactly true. I cannot conceive of the God he endeavors to describe, because he gives to that God will, purpose, achievement, benevolence, love, and no form—no organization—no wants. There’s the trouble. No wants. And let me say why that is a trouble. Man acts only because he wants. You civilize man by increasing his wants, or, as his wants increase he becomes civilized. You find a lazy savage who would not hunt an elephant tusk to save your life. But let him have a few tastes of whiskey and tobacco, and he will run his legs off for tusks. You have given him another want and he is willing to work. And they nearly all started on the road toward Unitarianism—that is to say, toward civilization—in that way. You must increase their wants.

The question arises: Can an infinite being want anything? If he does and cannot get it, he is not happy. If he does not want anything, I cannot help him. I am under no obligation to do anything for anybody who does not need anything and who does not want anything. Now, there is my trouble. I may be wrong, and I may get paid for it some time, but that is my trouble.

I do not see—admitting that all is true that has been said about the existence of God—I do not see what I can do for him; and I do not see either what he can do for me, judging by what he has done for others.

And then I come to the other point, that religion so-called, explains our duties to this supposed being, when we do not even know that he exists; and no human being has got imagination enough to describe him, or to use such words that you understand what he is trying to say. I have listened with great pleasure to Judge Wright this evening, and I have heard a great many other beautiful things on the same subject—none better than his. But I never understood them—never.

Now, then, what is religion? I say, religion is all here in this world—right here—and that all our duties are right here to our fellow-men; that the man that builds a home; marries the girl that he loves; takes good care of her; likes the family; stays home nights, as a general thing; pays his debts; tries to find out what he can; gets all the ideas and beautiful things that his mind will hold; turns a part of his brain into a gallery of fine arts; has a host of paintings and statues there; then has another niche devoted to music—a magnificent dome, filled with winged notes that rise to glory—now, the man who does that gets all he can from the great ones dead; swaps all the thoughts he can with the ones that are alive; true to the ideal that he has here in his brain—he is what I call a religious man, because he makes the world better, happier; he puts the dimples of joy in the cheeks of the ones he loves, and he lets the gods run heaven to suit themselves. And I am not saying that he is right; I do not know.

This is all the religion that I have; to make somebody else happier if I can.

I divide this world into two classes—the cruel and the kind; and I think a thousand times more of a kind man than I do of an intelligent man. I think more of kindness than I do of genius, I think more of real, good, human nature in that way—of one who is willing to lend a helping hand and who goes through the world with a face that looks as if its owner were willing to answer a decent question—I think a thousand times more of that than I do of being theologically right; because I do not care whether I am theologically right or not. It is something that is not worth talking about, because it is something that I never, never, never shall understand; and every one of you will die and you won’t understand it either—until after you die at any rate. I do not know what will happen then.

I am not denying anything. There is another ideal, and it is a beautiful ideal. It is the greatest dream that ever entered the heart or brain of man—the Dream of Immortality. It was born of human affection. It did not come to us from heaven. It was born of the human heart. And when he who loved, kissed the lips of her who was dead, there came into his heart the dream: We may meet again.

And, let me tell you, that hope of immortality never came from any religion. That hope of immortality has helped make religion. It has been the great oak around which have climbed the poisonous vines of superstition—that hope of immortality is the great oak.

And yet the moment a man expresses a doubt about the truth of Joshua or Jonah or the other three fellows in a furnace, up hops some poor little wretch and says, “Why, he doesn’t want to live any more; he wants to die and go down like a dog, and that is the end of him and his wife and children.” They really seem to think that the moment a man is what they call an Infidel he has no affections, no heart, no feeling, no hope—nothing—nothing. Just anxious to be annihilated! But, if the orthodox creed be true, I make my choice to-night. I take hell. And if it is between hell and annihilation, I take annihilation.

I will tell you why I take hell in making the first choice. We have heard from both of those places—heaven and hell. According to the New Testament there was a rich man in hell, and a poor man, Lazarus, in heaven. And there was another gentleman by the name of Abraham. The rich man in hell was in flames, and he called for water, and they told him they couldn’t give him any. No bridge! But they did not express the slightest regret that they could not give him any water. Mr. Abraham was not decent enough to say he would if he could; no, sir; nothing. It did not make any difference to him. But this rich man in hell—in torment—his heart was all right, for he remembered his brothers; and he said to this Abraham, “If you cannot go, why, send a man to my five brethren, so that they will not come to this place!” Good fellow, to think of his five brothers when he was burning up. Good fellow. Best fellow we ever heard from on the other side—in either world.

So, I say there is my place. And, incidentally, Abraham at that time gave his judgment as to the value of miracles. He said, “Though one should arise from the dead he wouldn’t help your five brethren!” “There are Moses and the prophets.” No need of raising people from the dead.

That is my idea, in a general way, about religion; and I want the imagination to go to work upon it, taking the perfections of one church, of one school, of one system, and putting them together, just as the sculptor makes a great statue by taking the eyes from one, the nose from another, the limbs from another, and so on; just as they make a great painting from a landscape by putting a river in this place, instead of over there, changing the location of a tree and improving on what they call nature—that is to say, simply by adding to, taking from; that is all we can do. But let us go on doing that until there shall be a church in sympathy with the best human heart and in harmony with the best human brain.

And, what is more, let us have that religion for the world we live in. Right here! Let us have that religion until it cannot be said that they who do the most work have the least to eat. Let us have that religion here until hundreds and thousands of women are not compelled to make a living with the needle that has been called “the asp for the breast of the poor,” and to live in tenements, in filth, where modesty is impossible.

I say, let us preach that religion here until men will be ashamed to have forty or fifty millions, or any more than they need, while their brethren lack bread—while their sisters die from want. Let us preach that religion here until man will have more ambition to become wise and good than to become rich and powerful. Let us preach that religion here among ourselves until there are no abused and beaten wives. Let us preach that religion until children are no longer afraid of their own parents and until there is no back of a child bearing the scars of a father’s lash. Let us preach it, I say, until we understand and know that every man does as he must, and that, if we want better men and women, we must have better conditions.

Let us preach this grand religion until everywhere, the world over, men are just and kind to each other. And then, if there be another world, we shall be prepared for it. And if I come into the presence of an infinite, good, and wise being, he will say, “Well, you did the best you could. You did very well, indeed. There is plenty of work for you to do here. Try and get a little higher than you were before.” Let us preach that one drop of restitution is worth an ocean of repentance.

And if there is a life of eternal progress before us, I shall be as glad as any other angel to find that out.

But I will not sacrifice the world I have for one I know not of. I will not live here in fear, when I do not know that that which I fear lives.

I am going to live a perfectly free man. I am going to reap the harvest of my mind, no matter how poor it is, whether it is wheat or corn or worthless weeds. And I am going to scatter it. Some may “fall on stony ground.” But I think I have struck good soil to-night.

And so, ladies and gentlemen, I thank you a thousand times for your attention. I beg that you will forgive the time that I have taken, and allow me to say, once more, that this event marks an epoch in Religious Liberty in the United States.


Chicago, January 31, 1894.

     * Every soldier of the Army of the Potomac: remembers, the

colors that for two years floated over the headquarters of

Gen. Meade. Last night when one hundred and fifty men who

fought in that army gathered around the banquet board at the

Grand Pacific hotel a fac-simile of that flag floated over

them. It was a handsome guidon, on one side a field of

solferino red bearing a life-sized golden eagle surrounded

by a silver wreath of laurel; on the other were the national

colors with the names of the corps of the army.


The fifth annual banquet of the Western Society of the Army

of the Potomac will be remembered on account of the presence

of many distinguished men. The cigars had not been lighted

when Col. Robert G. Ingersoll, escorted by Gen. Newberry and

Col. Burbanks, came in. The bald head and sparse gray hair

of the famous orator were recognized by all, and he was

given a mighty welcome.


Save for the emblems of the Union and the fac-simile of Gen.

Meade’s flag the decorations were simple. There were no

flowers, but the soldiers could read on little signs stuck

up around the tables such names as “Petersburg,” “White

Oak,” “Mine Run,” “Cold Harbor,” “Fair Oaks” and “South

Mountain.” The exercises began and ended with bugle call and

military song, and the heroes of the Potomac showed that

they still remembered the words of the songs sung in camp.


Col. Freeman Connor, the retiring president, acted as

toastmaster. Seated near him were Maj.-Gen. Nelson Miles,

United States army; Gen. Newberry, Col. Ingersoll, Thomas B.

Bryan, Col. James A.. Sexton, Maj. E. A. Blodgett, Fred W.

Spink, Col. Williston and Maj. Heyle.


The exercises began with the singing of “America” by all

Col. Conner made a few remarks and then Col. C. S. McEntee

presented the new-comer to the society. When Colonel

Ingersoll was introduced, the veterans jumped up on chairs,

waved their handkerchiefs and greeted him with a mighty

shout. The Colonel spoke only fifteen minutes.


At the conclusion of Colonel Ingersoll’s speech he was again

cheered for several minutes. A motion was made to make him

an honorary member of the Western Society of the Army of the

Potomac. The toastmaster in putting the question said: “All

who are in favor will rise and yell,” and every comrade



—Chicago Record, February 1, 1894.


FIRST of all, I wish to thank you for allowing me to be present. Next, I wish to congratulate you that you are all alive. I congratulate you that you were born in this century, the greatest century in the world’s history, the greatest century of intellectual genius and of physical, mental and moral progress that the world ever knew. I congratulate you all that you are members of the Army of the Potomac. I believe that no better army ever marched under the flag of any nation. There was no difficulty that discouraged you; no defeat that disheartened you. For years you bore the heat and burden of battle; for years you saw your comrades torn by shot and shell, but wiping the tears, from your cheeks you marched on with greater determination than ever to fight to the end.

To the Army of the Potomac belongs the eternal honor of having obtained finally the sword of Rebellion. I congratulate you because you fought for the Republic, and I thank you for your courage. For by you the United States was kept on the map of the world, and our flag was kept floating. If not for your work, neither would have been there. You removed from it the only stain that was ever on it. You fought not only the battle of the Union, but of the whole world.

I congratulate you that you live in a period when the North has attained a higher moral altitude than was ever attained by any nation. You now live in a country which believes in absolute freedom for all. In this country any man may reap what he sows and may give his honest thought to his fellow-men. It is wonderful to think what this Nation was before the Army of the Potomac came into existence. It believed in liberty as the convict believes in liberty. It was a country where men that had honest thoughts were ostracized. I thank you and your courage for what we are. Nothing ennobles a man so much as fighting for the right. Whoever fights for the wrong wounds himself. I believe that every man who fought in the Union army came out a stronger and a better and a nobler man.

I believe in this country. I am so young and so full of enthusiasm that I am a believer in National growth. I want this country to be territorial and to become larger than it is. I want a country worthy of Chicago. I want to pick up the West Indies, take in the Bermudas, the Bahamas and Barbadoes. They are our islands. They belong to this continent and it is a piece of impudence for any other nation to think of owning them. We want to grow. Such is the extravagance of my ambition that I even want the Sandwich Islands. They say that these islands are too far away from us; that they are two thousand miles from our shores. But they are nearer to our shores than to any other. I want them. I want a naval station there. I want America to be mistress of the Pacific. Then there is another thing in my mind. I want to grow North and South. I want Canada—good people—good land. I want that country. I do not want to steal it, but I want it. I want to go South with this Nation. My idea is this: There is only air enough between the Isthmus of Panama and the North Pole for one flag. A country that guarantees liberty to all cannot be too large. If any of these people are ignorant, we will educate them; give them the benefit of our free schools. Another thing—I might as well sow a few seeds for next fall. I have heard many reasons why the South failed in the Rebellion, and why with the help of Northern dissensions and a European hatred the South did not succeed. I will tell you. In my judgment, the South failed, not on account of its army, but from other conditions. Luckily for us, the South had always been in favor of free trade.

Secondly—The South raised and sold raw material, and when the war came it had no foundries, no factories, and no looms to weave the cloth for uniforms; no shops to make munitions of war, and it had to get what supplies it could by running the blockade. We of the North had the cloth to clothe our soldiers, shops to make our bayonets; we had all the curious wheels that invention had produced, and had labor and genius, the power of steam, and the water to make what we needed, and we did not require anything from any other country. Suppose this whole country raised raw material and shipped it out, we would be in the condition that the South was. We want this Nation to be independent of the whole world. A nation to be ready to settle questions of dispute by war should be in a condition of absolute independence. For that reason I want all the wheels turning in this country, all the chimneys full of fire, all the looms running, the iron red hot everywhere. I want to see all mechanics having plenty of work with good wages and good homes for their families, good food, schools for their children, plenty of clothes, and enough to take care of a child if it happens to take sick. I am for the independence of America, the growth of America physically, mentally, and every other way. The time will come when all nations combined cannot take that flag out of the sky. I want to see this country so that if a deluge sweeps every other nation from the face of the globe we would have all we want made right here by our factories, by American brain and hand.

I thank you that the Republic still lives. I thank you that we are all lovers of freedom. I thank you for having helped establish a Government where every child has an opportunity, and where every avenue of advancement if open to all.


New York, February 2, 1895.

MR. PRESIDENT, Mr. Anton Seidl, and Gentlemen: I was enjoying myself with music and song; why I should be troubled, why I should be called upon to trouble you, is a question I can hardly answer. Still, as the president has remarked, the American people like to hear speeches. Why, I don’t know. It has always been a matter of amazement that anybody wanted to hear me. Talking is so universal; with few exceptions—the deaf and dumb—everybody seems to be in the business. Why they should be so anxious to hear a rival I never could understand. But, gentlemen, we are all pupils of nature; we are taught by the countless things that touch us on every side; by field and flower and star and cloud and river and sea, where the waves break into whitecaps, and by the prairie, and by the mountain that lifts its granite forehead to the sun; all things in nature touch us, educate us, sharpen us, cause the heart to bud, to burst, it may be, into blossom; to produce fruit. In common with the rest of the world I have been educated a little that way; by the things I have seen and by the things I have heard and by the people I have met. But there are a few things that stand out in my recollection as having touched me more deeply than others, a few men to whom I feel indebted for the little I know, and for the little I happen to be. Those men, those things, are forever present in my mind. But I want to tell you to-night that the first man that let up the curtain in my mind, that ever opened a blind, that ever allowed a little sunshine to straggle in, was Robert Burns. I went to get my shoes mended, and I had to go with them. And I had to wait till they were done. I was like the fellow standing by the stream naked washing his shirt. A lady and gentleman were riding by in a carriage, and upon seeing him the man indignantly shouted, “Why don’t you put on another shirt when you are washing one?” The fellow said, “I suppose you think I’ve got a hundred shirts!”

When I went into the shop of the old Scotch shoemaker he was reading a book, and when he took my shoes in hand I took his book, which was “Robert Burns.” In a few days I had a copy; and, indeed, gentlemen, from that time if “Burns” had been destroyed I could have restored more than half of it. It was in my mind day and night. Burns you know is a little valley, not very wide, but full of sunshine; a little stream runs down making music over the rocks, and children play upon the banks; narrow roads overrun with vines, covered with blossoms, happy children, the hum of bees, and little birds pour out their hearts and enrich the air. That is Burns. Then, you must know that I was raised respectably. Certain books were not thought to be good for the young person; only such books as would start you in the narrow road for the New Jerusalem. But one night I stopped at a little hotel in Illinois, many years ago, when we were not quite civilized, when the footsteps of the red man were still in the prairies. While I was waiting for supper an old man was reading from a book, and among others who were listening was myself. I was filled with wonder. I had never heard anything like it. I was ashamed to ask him what he was reading; I supposed that an intelligent boy ought to know. So I waited, and when the little bell rang for supper I hung back and they went out. I picked up the book; it was Sam Johnson’s edition of Shakespeare. The next day I bought a copy for four dollars. My God! more than the national debt. You talk about the present straits of the Treasury! For days, for nights, for months, for years, I read those books, two volumes, and I commenced with the introduction. I haven’t read that introduction for nearly fifty years, certainly forty-five, but I remember it still. Other writers are like a garden diligently planted and watered, but Shakespeare a forest where the oaks and elms toss their branches to the storm, where the pine towers, where the vine bursts into blossom at its foot. That book opened to me a new world, another nature. While Burns was the valley, here was a range of mountains with thousands of such valleys; while Burns was as sweet a star as ever rose into the horizon, here was a heaven filled with constellations. That book has been a source of perpetual joy to me from that day to this; and whenever I read Shakespeare—if it ever happens that I fail to find some new beauty, some new presentation of some wonderful truth, or another word that bursts into blossom, I shall make up my mind that my mental faculties are failing, that it is not the fault of the book. Those, then, are two things that helped to educate me a little.

Afterward I saw a few paintings by Rembrandt, and all at once I was overwhelmed with the genius of the man that could convey so much thought in form and color. Then I saw a few landscapes by Corot, and I began to think I knew something about art. During all my life, of course, like other people, I had heard what they call music, and I had my favorite pieces, most of those favorite pieces being favorites on account of association; and nine-tenths of the music that is beautiful to the world is beautiful because of the association, not because the music is good, but because of association.. We cannot write a very poetic thing about a pump or about water works; they are not old enough.

We can write a poetic thing about a well and a sweep and an old moss-covered bucket, and you can write a poem about a spring, because a spring seems a gift of nature, something that cost no trouble and no work, something that will sing of nature under the quiet stars of June. So, it is poetic on account of association. The stage coach is more poetic than the car, but the time will come when cars will be poetic, because human feelings, love’s remembrances, will twine around them, and consequently they will become beautiful. There are two pieces of music, “The Last Rose of Summer,” and “Home Sweet Home,” with the music a little weak in the back; but association makes them both beautiful. So, in the “Marseillaise” is the French Revolution, that whirlwind and flame of war, of heroism the highest possible, of generosity, of self-denial, of cruelty, of all of which the human heart and brain are capable; so that music now sounds as though its notes were made of stars, and it is beautiful mostly by association.

Now, I always felt that there must be some greater music somewhere, somehow. You know this little music that comes back with recurring emphasis every two inches or every three-and-a-half inches; I thought there ought to be music somewhere with a great sweep from horizon to horizon, and that could fill the great dome of sound with winged notes like the eagle; if there was not such music, somebody, sometime, would make it, and I was waiting for it. One day I heard it, and I said, “What music is that?” “Who wrote that?” I felt it everywhere. I was cold. I was almost hysterical. It answered to my brain, to my heart; not only to association, but to all there was of hope and aspiration, all my future; and they said this is the music of Wagner. I never knew one note from another—of course I would know it from a promissory note—and was utterly and absolutely ignorant of music until I heard Wagner interpreted by the greatest leader, in my judgment, in the world—Anton Seidl. He not only understands Wagner in the brain, but he feels him in the heart, and there is in his blood the same kind of wild and splendid independence that was in the brain of Wagner. I want to say to-night, because there are so many heresies, Mr. President, creeping into this world, I want to say and say it with all my might, that Robert Burns was not Scotch. He was far wider than Scotland: he had in him the universal tide, and wherever it touches the shore of a human being it finds access. Not Scotch, gentlemen, but a man, a man! I can swear to it, or rather affirm, that Shakespeare was not English, but another man, kindred of all, of all races and peoples, and who understood the universal brain and heart of the human race, and who had imagination enough to put himself in the place of all.

And so I want to say to-night, because I want to be consistent, Richard Wagner was not a German, and his music is not German; and why? Germany would not have it. Germany denied that it was music. The great German critics said it was nothing in the world but noise. The best interpreter of Wagner in the world is not German, and no man has to be German to understand Richard Wagner. In the heart of nearly every man is an ?olian harp, and when the breath of true genius touches that harp, every man that has one, or that knows what music is or has the depth and height of feeling necessary to appreciate it, appreciates Richard Wagner. To understand that music, to hear it as interpreted by this great leader, is an education. It develops the brain; it gives to the imagination wings; the little earth grows larger; the people grow important; and not only that, it civilizes the heart; and the man who understands that music can love better and with greater intensity than he ever did before. The man who understands and appreciates that music, becomes in the highest sense spiritual—and I don’t mean by spiritual, worshiping some phantom, or dwelling upon what is going to happen to some of us—I mean spiritual in the highest sense; when a perfume arises from the heart in gratitude, and when you feel that you know what there is of beauty, of sublimity, of heroism and honor and love in the human heart. This is what I mean by being spiritual. I don’t mean denying yourself here and living on a crust with the expectation of eternal joy—that is not what I mean. By spiritual I mean a man that has an ideal, a great ideal, and who is splendid enough to live to that ideal; that is what I mean by spiritual. And the man who has heard the music of Wagner, that music of love and death, the greatest music, in my judgment, that ever issued from the human brain, the man who has heard that and understands it has been civilized.

Another man to whom I feel under obligation whose name I do not know—I know Burns, Shakespeare, Rembrandt and Wagner, but there are some other fellows whose names I do not know—is he who chiseled the Venus de Milo. This man helped to civilize the world; and there is nothing under the sun so pathetic as the perfect. Whoever creates the perfect has thought and labored and suffered; and no perfect thing has ever been done except through suffering and except through the highest and holiest thought, and among this class of men is Wagner. Let me tell you something more. You know I am a great believer. There is no man in the world who believes more in human nature than I do. No man believes more in the nobility and splendor of humanity than I do; no man feels more grateful than I to the self-denying, heroic, splendid souls who have made this world fit for ladies and gentlemen to live in. But I believe that the human mind has reached its top in three departments. I don’t believe the human race—no matter if it lives millions of years more upon this wheeling world—I don’t believe the human race will ever produce in the world anything greater, sublimer, than the marbles of the Greeks. I do not believe it. I believe they reach absolutely the perfection of form and the expression of force and passion in stone. The Greeks made marble as sensitive as flesh and as passionate as blood. I don’t believe that any human being of any coming race—no matter how many suns may rise and set, or how many religions may rise and fall, or how many languages be born and decay—I don’t believe any human being will ever excel the dramas of Shakespeare. Neither do I believe that the time will ever come when any man with such instruments of music as we now have, and having nothing but the common air that we now breathe, will ever produce greater pictures in sound, greater music, than Wagner. Never! Never! And I don’t believe he will ever have a better interpreter than Anton Seidl. Seidl is a poet in sound, a sculptor in sound. He is what you might call an orchestral orator, and as such he expresses the deepest feelings, the highest aspirations and the in-tensest and truest love of which the brain and heart of man are capable.

Now, I am glad, I am delighted, that the people here in this city and in various other cities of our great country are becoming civilized enough to appreciate these harmonies; I am glad they are civilized at last enough to know that the home of music is tone, not tune; that the home of music is in harmonies where you braid them like rainbows; I am glad they are great enough and civilized enough to appreciate the music of Wagner, the greatest music in this world. Wagner sustains the same relation to other composers that Shakespeare does to other dramatists, and any other dramatist compared with Shakespeare is like one tree compared with an immeasurable forest, or rather like one leaf compared with a forest; and all the other composers of the world are embraced in the music of Wagner.

“Nobody has written anything more tender than he, nobody anything sublimer than he. Whether it is the song of the deep, or the warble of the mated bird, nobody has excelled Wagner; he has expressed all that the human heart is capable of appreciating. And now, gentlemen, having troubled you long enough, and saying long live Anton Seidl, I bid you good-night.”


New York, November 26, 1898.

     * The Lotos Club did honor to Rear Admiral Winfield Scott

Schley, and incidentally, to the United States, at its

clubhouse in Fifth Avenue last night. All day long the

square, blue pennant, blazoned with the two stars of a Rear

Admiral, snapped in the wind, signifying to all who saw it

that the Lotos Clubhouse was for the time being the flagship

of the erstwhile Flying Squadron.


Within the home of the club were gathered men who like the

guest of the evening were prominent in the war with Spain,

The navy was represented by Capt. Charles D. Sigs-Dee, Capt.

A. T. Mahan and Captain Goodrich. From the army there was

Brig. Gen. W F. Randolph, and from civil life many men

prominent in the business, professional and social life of

the city. The one impulse that led these men to brave the

storm was their desire to pay their respects to one of the

men who had done so much to win laurels for the American



The parlors and dining rooms of the clubhouse wore thrown

into one in order to accommodate the three hundred men

present fit the dinner. Smilax covered the walls, save hero

and there where the American flag was draped in graceful

folds. From the archway under which the table of honor was

spread, hung a large National ensign and a Rear Admiral’s



The menu was unique. Etched on a cream-tinted paper appeared

an open nook, and on the tops of the pages was inscribed,

“Logge of the Goode Ship Lotos.” “Dinner to Rear Admiral

Winfield Scott Schley, given in the cabin of ye Shippe, Nov.

26, l898, Lat. 40 degrees 42 minutes 43 seconds north;

longitude, 74 degrees 3 seconds west.”


On each side of the menu was stretched a string of signal

flags, giving the orders made famous by Admiral Schley in

the naval engagement of July 3, 1898. On the second page of

the menu was a fine etching of the Brooklyn, Admiral

Schley’s flagship. The souvenir menu was inclosed in blue

paper, upon which were two white stars, the whole

representing Rear Admiral Schley’s pennant.


MR.PRESIDENT, Gentlemen of the Club—Boys: I congratulate all of you and I congratulate myself, and I will tell you why. In the first place, we were well born, and we were all born rich, all of us. We belong to a great race. That is something; that is having a start, to feel that in your veins flows heroic blood, blood that has accomplished great things and has planted the flag of victory on the field of war. It is a great thing to belong to a great race.

I congratulate you and myself on another thing; we were born in a great nation, and you can’t be much of a man without having a nation behind you, with you; Just think about it! What would Shakespeare have been, if he had been born in Labrador? I used to know an old lawyer in southern Illinois, a smart old chap, who mourned his unfortunate surroundings. He lived in Pinkneyville, and occasionally drank a little too freely of Illinois wine; and when in his cups he sometimes grew philosophic and egotistic. He said one day, “Boys, I have got more brains than you have, I have, but I have never had a chance. I want you just to think of it. What would Daniel Webster have been, by God, if he had settled in Pinkneyville?”

So I congratulate you all that you were born in a great nation, born rich; and why do I say rich? Because you fell heir to a great, expressive, flexible language; that is one thing. What could a man do who speaks a poor language, a language of a few words that you could almost count on your fingers? What could he do? You were born heirs to a great literature, the greatest in the world—in all the world. All the literature of Greece and Rome would not make one act of “Hamlet.” All the literature of the ancient world added to all of the modern world, except England, would not equal the literature that we have. We were born to it, heirs to that vast intellectual possession.

So I say you were all born rich, all. And then you were very fortunate in being born in this country, where people have some rights, not as many as they should have, not as many as they would have if it were not for the preachers, may be, but where we have some; and no man yet was ever great unless a great drama was being played on some great stage and he got a part. Nature deals you a hand, and all she asks is for you to have the sense to play it. If no hand is dealt to you, you win no money. You must have the opportunity, must be on the stage, and some great drama must be there. Take it in our own country. The Revolutionary war was a drama, and a few great actors appeared; the War of 1812 was another, and a few appeared; the Civil war another. Where would have been the heroes whose brows we have crowned with laurel had there been no Civil war? What would have become of Lincoln, a lawyer in a country town? What would have become of Grant? He would have been covered with the mantle of absolute obscurity, tucked in at all the edges, his name never heard of by any human being not related to him.

Now, you have got to have the chance, and you cannot create it. I heard a gentleman say here a few minutes ago that this war could have been averted. That is not true. I am not doubting his veracity, but rather his philosophy. Nothing ever happened beneath the dome of heaven that could have been avoided. Everything that is possible happens. That may not suit all the creeds, but it is true. And everything that is possible will continue to happen. The war could not have been averted, and the thing that makes me glad and proud is that it was not averted. I will tell you why.

It was the first war in the history of this world that was waged unselfishly for the good of others; the first war. Almost anybody will fight for himself; a great many people will fight for their country, their fellow-men, their fellow-citizens; but it requires something besides courage to fight for the rights of aliens; it requires not only courage, but principle and the highest morality. This war was waged to compel Spain to take her bloody hands from the throat of Cuba. That is exactly what it was waged for. Another great drama was put upon the boards, another play was advertised, and the actors had their opportunity. Had there been no such war, many of the actors would never have been heard of.

But the thing is to take advantage of the occasion when it arrives. In this war we added to the greatness and the glory of our history. That is another thing that we all fell heirs to—the history of our people, the history of our Nation. We fell heirs to all the great and grand things that had been accomplished, to all the great deeds, to the splendid achievements either in the realm of mind or on the field of battle.

Then there was another great drama. The first thing we knew, a man in the far Pacific, a gentleman from Vermont, sailed one May morning into the bay of Manila, and the next news was that the Spanish fleet had been beached, burned, destroyed, and nothing had happened to him. I have read a little history, not much, and a good deal that I have read was not true. I have read something about our own navy, not much. I recollect when I was a boy my hero was John Paul Jones; he covered the ocean; and afterward I knew of Hull and Perry and Decatur and Bainbridge and a good many others that I don’t remember now. And then came the Civil war, and I remember a little about Farragut, a great Admiral, as great as ever trod a deck, in my judgment. And I have also read about other admirals and sailors of the world. I knew something of Drake and I have read the “Life of Nelson” and several other sea dogs; but when I got the news from Manila I said, “There is the most wonderful victory ever won upon the sea;” and I did not think it would ever be paralleled. I thought such things come one in a box. But a little while afterward another of Spain’s fleets was heard from. Oh, those Spaniards! They have got the courage of passion, but that is not the highest courage. They have got plenty of that; but it is necessary to be coolly courageous, and to have the brain working with the accuracy of an engine—courageous, I don’t care how mad you get, but there must not be a cloud in the heaven of your judgment. That is Anglo-Saxon courage, and there is no higher type. The Spaniards sprinkled the holy water on their guns, then banged away and left it to the Holy Ghost to direct the rest.

Another fleet, at Santiago, ventured out one day, and another great victory was won by the American Navy. I don’t know which victory was the more wonderful, that at ManilaBay or that at Santiago. The Spanish ships were, some of them, of the best class and type, and had fine guns, yet in a few moments they were wrecks on the shore of defeat, gone, lost.

Now, when I used to read about these things in the olden times, what ideas I had of the hero! I never expected to see one; and yet to-night I have the happiness of dining with one, with one whose name is associated with as great a victory, in my judgment, as was ever won; a victory that required courage, intelligence, that power of will that holds itself firm until the thing sought has been accomplished; and that has my greatest admiration. I thank Admiral Schley for having enriched my country, for having added a little to my own height, to my own pride, so that I utter the word America with a little more unction than I ever did before, and the old flag looks a little brighter, better, and has an added glory. When I see it now, it looks as if the air had burst into blossom, and it stands for all that he has accomplished.

Admiral Schley has added not only to our wealth, but to the wealth of the children yet unborn that are going to come into the great heritage not only of wealth, but of the highest possible riches, glory, honor, achievement. That is the reason I congratulate you to-night. And I congratulate you on another thing, that this country has entered upon the great highway, I believe, of progress. I believe that the great nation has the sentiment, the feeling of growth. The successful farmer wants to buy the land adjoining him; the great nation loves to see its territory increase. And what has been our history? Why, when we bought Louisiana from Napoleon, in 1803, thousands of people were opposed to “imperialism,” to expansion; the poor old moss-backs were opposed to it. When we bought Florida, it was the same. When we took the vast West from Mexico in 1848 it was the same. When we took Alaska it was the same. Now, is anybody in favor of modifying that sentiment?

We have annexed Hawaii, and we have got the biggest volcano in the business. A man I know visited that volcano some years ago and came back and told me about his visit. He said that at the little hotel they had a guest-book in which the people wrote their feelings on seeing the volcano in action. “Now,” he said, “I will tell you this so that you may know how you are spreading out yourself. One man had written in that book, ‘if Bob Ingersoll were here, I think he would change his mind about hell.'”

I want that volcano. I want the Philippines. It would be simply infamous to hand those people back to the brutality of Spain. Spain has been Christianizing them for about four hundred years. The first thing the poor devils did was to sign a petition asking for the expulsion of the priests. That was their idea of the commencement of liberty. They are not quite so savage as some people imagine. I want those islands; I want all of them, and I don’t know that I disagree with the Rev. Mr. Slicer as to the use we can put them to. I don’t know that they will be of any use, but I want them; they might come handy. And I wanted to pick up the small change, the Ladrones and the Carolines. I am glad we have got Porto Rico. I don’t know as it will be of any use, but there’s no harm in having the title. I want Cuba whenever Cuba wants us, and I favor the idea of getting her in the notion of wanting us. I want it in the interest, as I believe, of humanity, of progress; in other words, of human liberty. That is what the war was waged for, and the fact that it was waged for that, gives an additional glory to these naval officers and to the officers in the army. They fought in the first righteous war; I mean righteous in the sense that we fought for the liberty of others.

Now, gentlemen, I feel that we have all honored ourselves to-night by honoring Rear Admiral Schley. I want you to know that long after we are dead and long after the Admiral has ceased to sail, he will be remembered, and in the constellation of glory one of the brightest stars will stand for the name of Winfield Scott Schley, as brave an officer as ever sailed a ship. I am glad I am here to-night, and again, gentlemen, I congratulate you all upon being here. I congratulate you that you belong to this race, to this nation, and that you are equal heirs in the glory of the great Republic.


New York, June 5, 1888.

MR. PRESIDENT, Ladies and Gentlemen: I have addressed, or annoyed, a great many audiences in my life and I have not the slightest doubt that I stand now before more ability, a greater variety of talent, and more real genius than I ever addressed in my life.

I know all about respectable stupidity, and I am perfectly acquainted with the brainless wealth and success of this life, and I know, after all, how poor the world would be without that divine thing that we call genius—what a worthless habitation, if you take from it all that genius has given.

I know also that all joy springs from a love of nature. I know that all joy is what I call Pagan. The natural man takes delight in everything that grows, in everything that shines, in everything that enjoys—he has an immense sympathy with the whole human race.

Of that feeling, of that spirit, the drama is born. People must first be in love with life before they can think it worth representing. They must have sympathy with their fellows before they can enter into their feelings and know what their heart throbs about. So, I say, back of the drama is this love of life, this love of nature. And whenever a country becomes prosperous—and this has been pointed cut many times—when a wave of wealth runs over a land,—behind it you will see all the sons and daughters of genius. When a man becomes of some account he is worth painting. When by success and prosperity he gets the pose of a victor, the sculptor is inspired; and when love is really in his heart, words burst into blossom and the poet is born. When great virtues appear, when magnificent things are done by heroines and heroes, then the stage is built, and the life of a nation is compressed into a few hours, or—to use the language of the greatest—”turning the accomplishment of many years into an hour-glass”; the stage is born, and we love it because we love life—and he who loves the stage has a kind of double life.

The drama is a crystallization of history, an epitome of the human heart. The past is lived again and again, and we see upon the stage, love, sacrifice, fidelity, courage—all the virtues mingled with all the follies.

And what is the great thing that the stage does? It cultivates the imagination. And let me say now, that the imagination constitutes the great difference between human beings.

The imagination is the mother of pity, the mother of generosity, the mother of every possible virtue. It is by the imagination that you are enabled to put yourself in the place of another. Every dollar that has been paid into your treasury came from an imagination vivid enough to imagine himself or herself lying upon the lonely bed of pain, or as having fallen by the wayside of life, dying alone. It is this imagination that makes the difference in men.

Do you believe that a man would plunge the dagger into the heart of another if he had imagination enough to see him dead—imagination enough to see his widow throw her arms about the corpse and cover his face with sacred tears—imagination enough to see them digging his grave, and to see the funeral and to hear the clods fall upon the coffin and the sobs of those who stood about—do you believe he would commit the crime? Would any man be false who had imagination enough to see the woman that he once loved, in the darkness of night, when the black clouds were floating through the sky hurried by the blast as thoughts and memories were hurrying through her poor brain—if he could see the white flutter of her garment as she leaped to the eternal, blessed sleep of death—do you believe that he would be false to her? I tell you that he would be true.

So that, in my judgment, the great mission of the stage is to cultivate the human imagination. That is the reason fiction has done so much good. Compared with the stupid lies-called history, how beautiful are the imagined things with painted wings. Everybody detests a thing that pretends to be true and is not; but when it says, “I am about to create,” then it is beautiful in the proportion that it is artistic, in the proportion that it is a success.

Imagination is the mother of enthusiasm. Imagination fans the little spark into a flame great enough to warm the human race; and enthusiasm is to the mind what spring is to the world. .

Now I am going to say a few words because I want to, and because I have the chance.

What is known as “orthodox religion” has always been the enemy of the theatre. It has been the enemy of every possible comfort, of every rational joy—that is to say, of amusement. And there is a reason for this. Because, if that religion be true, there should be no amusement. If you believe that in every moment is the peril of eternal pain—do not amuse yourself. Stop the orchestra, ring down the curtain, and be as miserable as you can. That idea puts an infinite responsibility upon the soul—an infinite responsibility—and how can there be any art, how can there be any joy, after that? You might as well pile all the Alps on one unfortunate ant, and then say, “Why don’t you play? Enjoy yourself.”

If that doctrine be true, every one should regard time as a kind of dock, a pier running out into the ocean of eternity, on which you sit on your trunk and wait for the ship of death—solemn, lugubrious, melancholy to the last degree.

And that is why I have said joy is Pagan. It comes from a love of nature, from a love of this world, from a love of this life. According to the idea of some good people, life is a kind of green-room, where you are getting ready for a “play” in some other country.

You all remember the story of “Great Expectations,” and I presume you have all had them. That is another thing about this profession of acting that I like—you do not know how it is coming out—and there is this delightful uncertainty.

You have all read the book called “Great Expectations,” written, in my judgment, by the greatest novelist that ever wrote the English language—the man who created a vast realm of joy. I love the joy-makers—not the solemn, mournful wretches. And when I think of the church asking something of the theatre, I remember that story of “Great Expectations.” You remember Miss Haversham—she was to have been married some fifty or sixty years before that time—sitting there in the darkness, in all of her wedding finery, the laces having turned yellow by time, the old wedding cake crumbled, various insects having made it their palatial residence—you remember that she sent for that poor little boy Pip, and when he got there in the midst of all these horrors, she looked at him and said, “Pip, play!” And if their doctrine be true, every actor is in that situation.

I have always loved the theatre—loved the stage, simply because it has added to the happiness of this life. “Oh, but,” they say, “is it moral?” A superstitious man suspects everything that is pleasant. It seems inbred in his nature, and in the nature of most people. You let such a man pull up a little weed and taste it, and if it is sweet and good, he says, “I’ll bet it is poison.” But if it tastes awful, so that his face becomes a mask of disgust, he says, “I’ll bet you that it is good medicine.”

Now, I believe that everything in the world that tends to make man happy, is moral. That is my definition of morality. Anything that bursts into bud and blossom, and bears the fruit of joy, is moral.

Some people expect to make the world good by destroying desire—by a kind of pious petrifaction, feeling that if you do not want anything, you will not want anything bad. In other words, you will be good and moral if you will only stop growing, stop wishing, turn all your energies in the direction of repression, and if from the tree of life you pull every leaf, and then every bud—and if an apple happens to get ripe in spite of you, don’t touch it—snakes!

I insist that happiness is the end—virtue the means—and anything that wipes a tear from the face of man is good. Everything that gives laughter to the world—laughter springing from good nature, that is the most wonderful music that has ever enriched the ears of man. And let me say that nothing can be more immoral than to waste your own life, and sour that of others.

Is the theatre moral? I suppose you have had an election to-day. They had an election at the Metropolitan Opera House for bishops, and they voted forged tickets; and after the election was over, I suppose they asked the old question in the same solemn tone: “Is the theatre moral?”

At last, all the intelligence of the world admits that the theatre is a great, a splendid instrumentality for increasing the well-being of man. But only a few years ago our fathers were poor barbarians. They only wanted the essentials of life, and through nearly all the centuries Genius was a vagabond—Art was a servant. He was the companion of the clown. Writers, poets, actors, either sat “below the salt” or devoured the “remainder biscuit,” and drank what drunkenness happened to leave, or lived on crumbs, and they had less than the crumbs of respect. The painter had to have a patron, and then in order to pay the patron, he took the patron’s wife for Venus—and the man, he was the Apollo! So the writer had to have a patron, and he endeavored to immortalize him in a preface of obsequious lies. The writer had no courage. The painter, the sculptor—poor wretches—had “patrons.” Some of the greatest of the world were treated as servants, and yet they were the real kings of the human race.

Now the public is the patron. The public has the intelligence to see what it wants. The stage does not have to flatter any man. The actor now does not enroll himself as the servant of duke or lord. He has the great public, and if he is a great actor, he stands as high in the public estimation as any other man in any other walk of life.

And these men of genius, these “vagabonds,” these “sturdy vagrants” of the old law—and let me say one thing right here: I do not believe that there ever was a man of genius that had not a little touch of the vagabond in him somewhere—just a little touch of chaos—that is to say, he must have generosity enough now and then absolutely to forget himself—he must be generous to that degree that he starts out without thinking of the shore and without caring for the sea—and that is that touch of chaos. And yet, through all those years the poets and the actors lacked bread. Imagine the number of respectable dolts who felt above them. The men of genius lived on the bounty of the few, grudgingly given.

Now, just think what would happen, what we would be, if you could blot from this world what these men have done. If you could take from the walls the pictures; from the niches the statues; from the memory of man the songs that have been sung by “The Plowman”—take from the memory of the world what has been done by the actors and play-writers, and this great globe would be like a vast skull emptied of all thought.

And let me say one word more, and that is as to the dignity of your profession.

The greatest genius of this world has produced your literature. I am not now alluding simply to one—but there has been more genius lavished upon the stage—more real genius, more creative talent, than upon any other department of human effort. And when men and women belong to a profession that can count Shakespeare in its number, they should feel nothing but pride.

Nothing gives me more pleasure than to speak of Shakespeare—Shakespeare, in whose brain were the fruits of all thoughts past, the seeds of all to be—Shakespeare, an intellectual ocean toward which all rivers ran, and from which now the isles and continents of thought receive their dew and rain.

A profession that can boast that Shakespeare was one of its members, and that from his brain poured out that mighty intellectual cataract—that Mississippi that will enrich all coming generations—the man that belongs to that profession—should feel that no other man by reason of belonging to some other, can be his superior.

And such a man, when he dies—or the friend of such a man, when that man dies—should not imagine that it is a very generous and liberal thing for some minister to say a few words above the corpse—and I do not want to see this profession cringe before any other.

One word more. I hope that you will sustain this splendid charity. I do not believe that more generous people exist than actors. I hope you will sustain this charity. And yet, there was one little thing I saw in your report of last year, that I want to call attention to. You had “benefits” all over this country, and of the amount raised, one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars were given to religious societies and twelve thousand dollars to the Actors’ Fund—and yet they say actors are not Christians! Do you not love your enemies? After this, I hope that you will also love your friends.


New York, March 23, 1899.

     * Col. Robert G. Ingersoll was the special star among stars

at the benefit given yesterday afternoon at the Fifth Avenue

Theatre for the Actors’ Fund. There were a great many other

stars and a very long programme. The consequence was that

the performance began before one o’clock and was not over

until almost dinner time.


Usually in such cases the least important performers are

placed at the beginning and the audience straggles in

leisurely without worrying a great deal over what it has

missed. Yesterday, however, it had been announced in advance

that Col. Ingersoll would start the ball a-rolling and the

result was that before the overture was finished the house

was packed to the doors.


Col. Ingersoll’s contribution was a short address delivered

in his characteristic style of florid eloquence.—The World,

New York, March 24, 1899.


Disguise it as we may, we live in a frightful world, with evils, with enemies, on every side. From the hedges along the path of life, leap the bandits that murder and destroy; and every human being, no matter how often he escapes, at last will fall beneath the assassin’s knife.

To change the figure: We are all passengers on the train of life. The tickets give the names of the stations where we boarded the car, but the destination is unknown. At every station some passengers, pallid, breathless, dead, are put away, and some with the light of morning in their eyes, get on.

To change the figure again: On the wide sea of life we are all on ships or rafts or spars, and some by friendly winds are borne to the fortunate isles, and some by storms are wrecked on the cruel rocks. And yet upon the isles the same as upon the rocks, death waits for all. And death alone can truly say, “All things come to him who waits.”

And yet, strangely enough, there is in this world of misery, of misfortune and of death, the blessed spirit of mirth. The travelers on the path, on the train, on the ships, the rafts and spars, sometimes forget their perils and their doom.

All blessings on the man whose face was first illuminated by a smile!

All blessings on the man who first gave to the common air the music of laughter—the music that for the moment drove fears from the heart, tears from the eyes, and dimpled cheeks with joy!

All blessings on the man who sowed with merry hands the seeds of humor, and at the lipless skull of death snapped the reckless fingers of disdain! Laughter is the blessed boundary line between the brute and man.

Who are the friends of the human race? They who hide with vine and flower the cruel rocks of fate—the children of genius, the sons and daughters of mirth and laughter, of imagination, those whose thoughts, like moths with painted wings, fill the heaven of the mind.

Among these sons and daughters are the children of the stage, the citizens of the mimic world—the world enriched by all the wealth of genius—enriched by painter, orator, composer and poet. The world of which Shakespeare, the greatest of human beings, is still the unchallenged emperor. These children of the stage have delighted the weary travelers on the thorny path, amused the passengers on the fated train, and filled with joy the hearts of the clingers to spars, and the floaters on rafts.

These, children of the stage, with fancy’s wand rebuild the past. The dead are brought to life and made to act again the parts they played. The hearts and lips that long ago were dust, are made to beat and speak again. The dead kings are crowned once more, and from the shadows of the past emerge the queens, jeweled and sceptred as of yore. Lovers leave their graves and breathe again their burning vows; and again the white breasts rise and fall in passion’s storm. The laughter that died away beneath the touch of death is heard again and lips that fell to ashes long ago are curved once more with mirth. Again the hero bares his breast to death; again the patriot falls, and again the scaffold, stained with noble blood, becomes a shrine.

The citizens of the real world gain joy and comfort from the stage. The broker, the speculator ruined by rumor, the lawyer baffled by the intelligence of a jury or the stupidity of a judge, the doctor who lost his patience because he lost his patients, the merchant in the dark days of depression, and all the children of misfortune, the victims of hope deferred, forget their troubles for a little while when looking on the mimic world. When the shaft of wit flies like the arrow of Ulysses through all the rings and strikes the centre; when words of wisdom mingle with the clown’s conceits; when folly laughing shows her pearls, and mirth holds carnival; when the villain fails and the right triumphs, the trials and the griefs of life for the moment fade away.

And so the maiden longing to be loved, the young man waiting for the “Yes” deferred; the unloved wife, hear the old, old story told again,—and again within their hearts is the ecstasy of requited love.

The stage brings solace to the wounded, peace to the troubled, and with the wizard’s wand touches the tears of grief and they are changed to the smiles of joy.

The stage has ever been the altar, the pulpit, the cathedral of the heart. There the enslaved and the oppressed, the erring, the fallen, even the outcast, find sympathy, and pity gives them all her tears—and there, in spite of wealth and power, in spite of caste and cruel pride, true love has ever triumphed over all.

The stage has taught the noblest lesson, the highest truth, and that is this: It is better to deserve without receiving than to receive without deserving. As a matter of fact, it is better to be the victim of villainy than to be a villain. Better to be stolen from than to be a thief, and in the last analysis the oppressed, the slave, is less unfortunate than the oppressor, the master.

The children of the stage, these citizens of the mimic world, are not the grasping, shrewd and prudent people of the mart; they are improvident enough to enjoy the present and credulous enough to believe the promises of the universal liar known as Hope. Their hearts and hands are open. As a rule genius is generous, luxurious, lavish, reckless and royal. And so, when they have reached the ladder’s topmost round, they think the world is theirs and that the heaven of the future can have no cloud. But from the ranks of youth the rival steps. Upon the veteran brows the wreaths begin to fade, the leaves to fall; and failure sadly sups on memory. They tread the stage no more. They leave the mimic world, fair fancy’s realm; they leave their palaces and thrones; their crowns are gone, and from their hands the sceptres fall. At last, in age and want, in lodgings small and bare, they wait the prompter’s call; and when the end is reached, maybe a vision glorifies the closing scene. Again they are on the stage; again their hearts throb high; again they utter perfect words; again the flowers fall about their feet; and as the curtain falls, the last sound that greets their ears, is the music of applause, the “bravos” for an encore.

And then the silence falls on darkness.

Some loving hands should close their eyes, some loving lips should leave upon their pallid brows a kiss; some friends should lay the breathless forms away, and on the graves drop blossoms jeweled with the tears of love.

This is the work of the generous men and women who contribute to the Actors’ Fund. This is charity; and these generous men and women have taught, and are teaching, a lesson that all the world should learn, and that is this: The hands that help are holier than the lips that pray.


New Orleans, February 1, 1898.


Press Club: I do not remember to have agreed or consented to make any remarks about the press or anything else on the present occasion, but I am glad of this opportunity to say a word or two. Of course, I have the very greatest respect for this profession, the profession of the press, knowing it, as I do, to be one of the greatest civilizers of the world. Above all other institutions and all other influences, it is the greatest agency in breaking down the hedges of provincialism. In olden times one nation had no knowledge or understanding of another nation, and no insight or understanding into its life; and, indeed, various parts of one nation held the other parts of it somewhat in the attitude of hostility, because of a lack of more thorough knowledge; and, curiously enough, we are prone to look upon strangers more or less in the light of enemies. Indeed, enemy and stranger in the old vocabularies are pretty much of the same significance. A stranger was an enemy. I think it is Darwin who alludes to the instinctive fear a child has of a stranger as one of the heritages of centuries of instinctive cultivation, the handed-down instinct of years ago. And even now it is a fact that we have very little sympathy with people of a different country, even people speaking the same language, having the same god with a different name, or another god with the same name, recognizing the same principles of right and wrong.

But the moment people began to trade with each other, the moment they began to enjoy the results of each other’s industry and brain, the moment that, through this medium, they began to get an insight into each other’s life, people began to see each other as they were; and so commerce became the greatest of all missionaries of civilization, because, like the press, it tended to do away with provincialism.

You know there is no one else in the world so egotistic as the man who knows nothing. No man is more certain than the man who knows nothing. The savage knows everything. The moment man begins to be civilized he begins to appreciate how little he knows, how very circumscribed in its very nature human knowledge is.

Now, after commerce came the press. From the Moors, I believe, we learned the first rudiments of that art which has civilized the world. With the invention of movable type came an easy and cheap method of preserving the thoughts and history of one generation to another and transmitting the life of one nation to another. Facts became immortal, and from that day to this the intelligence of the world has rapidly and steadily increased.

And now, if we are provincial, it is our own fault, and if we are hateful and odious and circumscribed and narrow and peevish and limited in the light we get from the known universe, it is our own fault.

Day by day the world is growing smaller and men larger. But a few years ago the State of New York was as large as the United States is to-day. It required as much time to reach Albany from New York as it now requires to reach San Francisco from the same city, and so far as the transmission of thought goes the world is but a hamlet.

I count as one of the great good things of the modern press—as one of the specific good things—that the same news, the same direction of thought is transmitted to many millions of people each day. So that the thoughts of multitudes of men are substantially tending at the same time along the same direction. It tends more and more to make us citizens in the highest sense of the term, and that is the reason that I have so much respect for the press.

Of course I know that the news and opinions are written by folks liable to the same percentage of error as characterizes all mankind. No one makes no mistakes but the man who knows everything—no one makes no mistakes but the hypocrite.

I must confess, however, that there are things about the press of to-day that I would have changed—that I do not like.

I hate to see brain the slave of the material god. I hate to see money own genius. So I think that every writer on every paper should be compelled to sign his name to everything he writes. There are many reasons why he has a right to the reputation he makes. His reputation is his property, his capital, his stock in trade, and it is not just or fair or right that it should be absorbed by the corporation which employs him. After giving great thoughts to the world, after millions of people have read his thoughts with delight, no one knows this lonely man or his solitary name. If he loses the good will of his employer, he loses his place and with it all that his labor and time and brain have earned for himself as his own inalienable property, and his corporation or employer reaps the benefit of it.

There is another reason establishing the absolute equity of this proposition, a reason pointing in other directions than to the writer and his rights. It is no more than right to the reader that the opinion or the narrative should be that of Mr. Smith or Mr. Brown or Mr. So and So, and not that of, say, the Picayune. That is too impersonal. It is no more than right that a single man should have his honor at stake for what is said, and not an impersonal something. I know that we are all liable to believe it if the Picayune says it, and yet, after all, it is the individual man who is saying it and it is in the interest of justice that the reader be apprised of the fact.

I believe I have just a little fault to find with the tendency of the modern press to go into personal affairs—into so-called private affairs. In saying this, I have no complaint to lodge on my own behalf, for I have no private affairs. I am not so much opposed to what is called sensationalism, for that must exist as long as crime is considered news, and believe me, when virtue becomes news it can only be when this will have become an exceedingly bad world. At the same time I think that the publication of crime may have more or less the tendency of increasing it.

I read not long ago that if some heavy piece of furniture were dropped in a room in which there was a string instrument, the strings in harmony with the vibrations of the air made by that noise would take up the sound. Now a man with a tendency to crime would pick up that criminal feeling inspiring the act which he sees blazoned forth in all its detail in the press. In that view of the matter it seems to me better not to give details of all offences.

Now, as to the matter of being too personal, I think that one of the results of that sort of journalism is to drive a great many capable and excellent men out of public life. I heard a little story quite recently of a man who was being urged for the Legislature, and yet hesitated because of his fear of newspaper criticism of this character. “I don’t want to run,” said he to his wife, who urged that this was an opportunity to do himself and his friends honor, and that it was a sort of duty in him. “I would if I were you,” said his wife. “Well, but there is no saying,” he responded, “what the newspapers might print about me.” “Why, your life has always been honorable,” said she; “they could not say anything to your disparagement.” “But they might attack my father.” “Well, there was nothing in his career of which any one might feel ashamed. He was as irreproachable as you.” “Ay, but they might attack you and tell of some devilment you went into before we were married.” “Then you better not run,” said his wife promptly. I think this fear on the part of husband and wife is identical with that which keeps many a great man out of public service.

Now, there is another thing which every one ought to abhor. All men and newspapers are entirely too apt to criticise the motives of men. It is a fault common to all good men—except the clergy, of course—this habit of attacking motives. And whenever we see a man do something which is great and praiseworthy, let us talk about the act itself and not go into a speculation or an attack upon the motive which prompted the act. Attack what a man actually does.

But these are only small matters. The press is the most powerful of all agencies for the dissemination of intelligence, and as such I hail it always. It has nearly always been very friendly and kind to me and certainly I have received at the hands of the New Orleans press a treatment I shall never forget.

Our Sunday newspapers, to my mind, rank among the greatest institutions of the present day. One finds in them matter that could not be found in several hundreds of books,—beautiful thoughts, broad intelligence, a range of information perfectly startling in its usefulness and perfectly charming in its entertainment. Contrast, please, how we are enabled by their good offices to spend the Sabbath, with the descriptions of hell with all its terrors and all the gloom characterizing the Sabbaths our forefathers had to spend. The Sunday newspaper is an absolute blessing to the American people, a picture gallery, short stories, little poems, a symposium of brain and intelligence and refinement and—divorce proceedings.

As I have said, the good will and the fair treatment of the American press have nearly always been my lot. There have been some misguided people who have said harsh things, but when I remember all the misguided things I have done, I am inclined to be charitable for their shortcomings.

I do not know that I have anything else to say, except that I wish you all good luck and sunshine and prosperity, and enough of it to last you through a long life.




From “Ingersoll As He Is,” by E. M. Macdonald.


“ONE of the charges most persistently made against Colonel Ingersoll is that during and after the trial of D. M. Bennett, persecuted by Anthony Comstock, the Colonel endeavored to have the law against sending obscene literature through the mail repealed. That the charge is maliciously false is fully shown by the following brief history of events connected with the prosecution of D. M. Bennett, and Mr. Ingersoll’s efforts in his behalf….

“After Mr. Bennett’s arrest in 1877, he printed a petition to Congress, written by T. B. Wakeman, asking for the repeal or modification of Comstock’s law by which he expected to stamp out the publications of Freethinkers….

“The connection of Mr. Ingersoll with this petition is soon explained. Mr. Ingersoll knew of Comstock’s attempts to suppress heresy by means of this law, and when called upon by the Washington committee in charge of the petition, he allowed his name to go on the petition for modification, but he told them distinctly and plainly that he was not in favor of the repeal of the law, as he was willing and anxious that obscenity should be suppressed by all legal means. His sentiments are best expressed by himself in a letter to the Boston Journal. He says:

“‘Washington, March 18, 1878.

“‘To the Editor of the Boston Journal:

“‘My attention has been called to the following article that recently appeared in your paper:

“‘Col. Robert G. Ingersoll, and others, feel aggrieved because Congress, in 1873, enacted a law for the suppression of obscene literature, and, believing it an infringement of the rights of certain citizens, and an effort to muzzle the press and conscience, petition for its repeal. When a man’s conscience permits him to spread broadcast obscene literature, it is time that conscience was muzzled. The law is a terror only to evil-doers.”

“‘No one wishes the repeal of any law for the suppression of obscene literature. For my part, I wish all such laws rigidly enforced. The only objection I have to the law of 1873 is, that it has been construed to include books and pamphlets written against the religion of the day, although containing nothing that can be called obscene or impure. Certain religious fanatics, taking advantage of the word “immoral” in the law, have claimed that all writings against what they are pleased to call orthodox religion are immoral, and such books have been seized and their authors arrested. To this, and this only, I object.

“‘Your article does me great injustice, and I ask that you will have the kindness to publish this note.

“‘From the bottom of my heart I despise the publishers of obscene literature. Below them there is no depth of filth. And I also despise those, who, under the pretence of suppressing obscene literature, endeavor to prevent honest and pure men from writing and publishing honest and pure thoughts. Yours truly.

“‘R. G. Ingersoll.’

“This is sufficiently easy of comprehension even for ministers, but of course they misrepresented and lied about the writer. From that day to this he has been accused of favoring the dissemination of obscene literature. That the friends of Colonel Ingersoll may know just how infamous this is, we will give a brief history of the repeal or modification movement….

“On October 26, the National Liberal League held its Congress in Syracuse. At this Congress the League left the matter of repeal or modification of the laws open, taking no action as an organization, either way, but elected officers known to be in favor of repeal. On December 10, Mr. Bennett was again arrested. He was tried, and found guilty; he appealed, the conviction was affirmed, and he was sentenced to thirteen months’ imprisonment at hard labor.

“After the trial Colonel Ingersoll interposed, and endeavored to get a pardon for Mr. Bennett, who was held in Ludlow street jail pending President Hayes’s reply. The man who occupied the President’s office promised to pardon the Infidel editor; then he went back on his word, and Mr. Bennett served his term of imprisonment.

“Then preachers opened the sluiceways of vituperation and billingsgate upon Colonel Ingersoll for having interceded for a man convicted of mailing obscene literature. The charges were as infamously false then as they are now, and to show it, it is only necessary to quote Colonel Ingersoll’s words during the year or two succeeding, when the Freethinkers and the Christians were not only opposing each other vigorously, but the Freethinkers themselves were divided on the question. In 1879, while Mr. Bennett was in prison, a correspondent of the Nashville, Tenn., Banner said that the National Liberal League and Colonel Ingersoll were in favor of disseminating obscene literature. To this Colonel Ingersoll replied in a letter to a friend:

“1417 G St., Washington, Aug. 21, 1879.

“‘My Dear Sir: The article in the NashvilleBanner by “J. L.” is utterly and maliciously false.

“‘A petition was sent to Congress praying for the repeal or modification of certain postal laws, to the end that the freedom of conscience and of the press should not be abridged.

“‘Nobody holds in greater contempt than I the writers, publishers, or dealers in obscene literature. One of my objections to the Bible is that it contains hundreds of grossly obscene passages not fit to be read by any decent man, thousands of passages, in my judgment, calculated to corrupt the minds of youth. I hope the time will soon come when the good sense of the American people will demand a Bible with all obscene passages left out.

“‘The only reason a modification of the postal laws is necessary is that at present, under color of those laws, books and pamphlets are excluded from the mails simply because they are considered heterodox and blasphemous. In other words, every man should be allowed to write, publish, and send through the mails his thoughts upon any subject, expressed in a decent and becoming manner. As to the propriety of giving anybody authority to overhaul mails, break seals, and read private correspondence, that is another question.

“‘Every minister and every layman who charges me with directly or indirectly favoring the dissemination of anything that is impure, retails what he knows to be a wilful and malicious lie. I remain, Yours truly,

“‘R. G. Ingersoll.’

“Three weeks after this letter was written the National Liberal League held its third annual Congress at Cincinnati. Colonel Ingersoll was chairman of the committee on resolutions and platform and unfinished business of the League. One of the subjects to be dealt with was these Comstock laws. The following are Colonel Ingersoll’s remarks and the resolutions he presented:

“‘It may be proper, before presenting the resolutions of the committee, to say a word in explanation. The committee were charged with the consideration of the unfinished business of the League. It seems that at Syracuse there was a division as to what course should be taken in regard to the postal laws of the United States. These laws were used as an engine of oppression against the free circulation of what we understand to be scientific literature. Every honest man in this country is in favor of allowing every other human being every right that he claims for himself. The majority at Syracuse were at that time simply in favor of the absolute repeal of those laws, believing them to be unconstitutional—not because they were in favor of anything obscene, but because they were opposed to the mails of the United States being under the espionage and bigotry of the church. They therefore demanded an absolute repeal of the law. Others, feeling that they might be misunderstood, and knowing that theology can coin the meanest words to act as the vehicle of the lowest lies, were afraid of being misunderstood, and therefore they said, Let us amend these laws so that our literature shall be upon an equality with that of theology. I know that there is not a Liberal here, or in the United States, that is in favor of the dissemination of obscene literature. One of the objections which we have to the book said to be written by God is that it is obscene.

“‘The Liberals of this country believe in purity, and they believe that every fact in nature and in science is as pure as a star. We do not need to ask for any more than we want. We simply want the laws of our country so framed that we are not discriminated against. So, taking that view of the vexed question, we want to put the boot upon the other foot. We want to put the charge of obscenity where it belongs, and the committee, of which I have the honor to be one of the members, have endeavored to do just that thing. Men have no right to talk to me about obscenity who regard the story of Lot and his daughters as a fit thing for men, women, and children to read, and who worship a God in whom the violation of [Cheers drowned the conclusion of this sentence so the reporters could not hear it.] Such a God I hold in infinite contempt.

“‘Now I will read you the resolutions recommended by the committee.


“‘Your committee have the honor to submit the following report: “‘First, As to the unfinished business of the League, your committee submits the following resolutions:

“‘Resolved., That we are in favor of such postal laws as will allow the free transportation through the mails of the United States of all books, pamphlets, and papers, irrespective of the religious, irreligious, political, and scientific views they may contain, so that the literature of science may be placed upon an equality with that of superstition.

“‘Resolved, That we are utterly opposed to the dissemination, through the mails, or by any other means, of obscene literature, whether “inspired” or uninspired, and hold in measureless contempt its authors and disseminators.

“‘Resolved, That we call upon the Christian world to expunge from the so-called “sacred” Bible every passage that cannot be read without covering the cheek of modesty with the blush of shame; and until such passages are expunged, we demand that the laws against the dissemination of obscene literature be impartially enforced. ‘…

“We believe that lotteries and obscenity should be dealt with by State and municipal legislation, and offenders punished in the county in which they commit their offence. So in those days we argued for the repeal of the Comstock laws, as did dozens of others—James Parton, Elizur Wright, O. B. Frothingham, T. C. Leland, Courtlandt Palmer, and many more whose names we do not recall. But Colonel Ingersoll did not, and when the National Liberal League met the next year at Chicago (September 17, 1880), he was opposed to the League’s making a pledge to defend every case under the Comstock laws, and he was opposed to a resolution demanding a repeal of those laws. The following is what Colonel Ingersoll said upon the subject:

“‘Mr. Chairman, I wish to offer the following resolution in place and instead of resolutions numbered 5 and 6:

“‘Resolved, That the committee of defence, whenever a person has been indicted for what he claims to have been an honest exercise of the freedom of thought and expression, shall investigate the case, and if it appears that such person has been guilty of no offence, then it shall be the duty of said committee to defend such person if he is unable to defend himself.’

“‘Now, allow me one moment to state my reasons. I do not, I have not, I never shall, accuse or suspect a solitary member of the Liberal League of the United States of being in favor of doing any act under heaven that he is not thoroughly convinced is right. We all claim freedom of speech, and it is the gem of the human soul. We all claim a right to express our honest thoughts. Did it ever occur to any Liberal that he wished to express any thought honestly, truly, and legally that he considered immoral? How does it happen that we have any interest in what is known as immoral literature? I deny that the League has any interest in that kind of literature. Whenever we mention it, whenever we speak of it, we put ourselves in a false position. What do we want? We want to see to it that the church party shall not smother the literature of Liberalism. We want to see to it that the viper of intellectual slavery shall not sting our cause. We want it so that every honest man, so that every honest woman, can express his or her honest thought upon any subject in the world. And the question, and the only question, as to whether they are amenable to the law, in my mind, is, Were they honest? Was their effort to benefit mankind? Was that their intention? And no man, no woman, should be convicted of any offence that that man or woman did not intend to commit. Now, then, suppose some person is arrested, and it is claimed that a work written by him is immoral, is illegal. Then, I say, let our committee of defence examine that case, and if our enemies are seeking to trample out Freethought under the name of immorality, and under the cover and shield of our criminal law, then let us defend that man to the last dollar we have. But we do not wish to put ourselves in the position of general defenders of all the slush that may be written in this or any other country. You cannot afford to do it. You cannot afford to put into the mouth of theology a perpetual and continual slur. You cannot afford to do it. And this meeting is not the time to go into the question of what authority the United States may have over the mails. It is a very wide question. It embraces many others. Has the Government a right to say what shall go into the mails? Why, in one sense, assuredly. Certainly they have a right to say you shall not send a horse and wagon by mail. They have a right to fix some limit; and the only thing we want is that the literature of liberty, the literature of real Freethought, shall not be discriminated against. And we know now as well as if it had been perfectly and absolutely demonstrated, that the literature of Freethought will be absolutely pure. We know it, We call upon the Christian world to expunge obscenity from their book, and until that is expunged we demand that the laws against obscene literature shall be executed. And how can we, in the next resolution, say those laws ought all to be repealed? We cannot do that. I have always been in favor of such an amendment of the law that by no trick, by no device, by no judicial discretion, an honest, high, pure-minded man should be subjected to punishment simply for giving his best and his honest thought. What more do we need? What more can we ask? I am as much opposed as my friend Mr. Wakeman can be to the assumption of the church that it is the guardian of morality. If our morality is to be guarded by that sentiment alone, then is the end come. The natural instinct of self-defence in mankind and in all organized society is the fortress of the morality in mankind. The church itself was at one time the outgrowth of that same feeling, but now the feeling has outgrown the church. Now, then, we will have a Committee of Defence. That committee will examine every case. Suppose some man has been indicted, and suppose he is guilty. Suppose he has endeavored to soil the human mind. Suppose he has been willing to make money by pandering to the lowest passions in the human breast. What will that committee do with him then? We will say, “Go on; let the law take its course.” But if, upon reading his book, we find that he is all wrong, horribly wrong, idiotically wrong, but make up our minds that he was honest in his error, I will give as much as any other living man of my means to defend that man. And I believe you will all bear me witness when I say that I have the cause of intellectual liberty at heart as much as I am capable of having anything at heart. And I know hundreds of others here just the same. I understand that. I understand their motive. I believe it to be perfectly good, but I truly and honestly think they are mistaken.

If we have an interest in the business, I would fight for it. If our cause were assailed by law, then I say fight; and our cause is assailed, and I say fight. They will not allow me, in many States of this Union, to testify. I say fight until every one of those laws is repealed. They discriminate against a man simply because he is honest. Repeal such laws. The church, if it had the power to-day, would trample out every particle of free literature in this land. And when they endeavor to do that, I say fight. But there is a distinction wide as the Mississippi—yes, wider than the Atlantic, wider than all the oceans—between the literature of immorality and the literature of Freethought. One is a crawling, slimy lizard, and the other an angel with wings of light. Now, let us draw this distinction, let us understand ourselves, and do not give to the common enemy a word covered with mire, a word stained with cloaca, to throw at us. We thought we had settled that question a year ago. We buried it then, and I say let it rot.

“‘This question is of great importance. It is the most important one we have here. I have fought this question; I am ever going to do so, and I will not allow anybody to put a stain upon me. This question must be understood if it takes all summer. Here is a case in point. Some lady has written a work which, I am informed, is a good work, and that has nothing wrong about it. Her opinions may be foolish or wise. Let this committee examine that case. If they find that she is a good woman, that she had good intentions, no matter how terrible the work may be, if her intentions are good, she has committed no crime. I want the honest thought. I think I have always been in favor of it. But we haven’t the time to go into all these questions.

“‘Then comes the question for this house to decide in a moment whether these cases should have been tried in the State or Federal court. I want it understood that I have confidence in the Federal courts of the nation. There may be some bad judges, there may be some idiotic jurors. I think there was in that case [of Mr. Bennett]. But the Committee of Defence, if I understand it, supplied means, for the defence of that man. They did, but are we ready now to decide in a moment what courts shall have jurisdiction? Are we ready to say that the Federal courts shall be denied jurisdiction in any case arising about the mails? Suppose somebody robs the mails? Before whom shall we try the robber? Try him before a Federal judge. Why? Because he has violated a Federal law. We have not any time for such an investigation as this. What we want to do is to defend free speech everywhere. What we want to do is to defend the expression of thought in papers, in pamphlets, in books. What we want to do is to see to it that these books, papers, and pamphlets are on an equality with all other books, papers, and pamphlets in the United States mails. And then the next step we want to take, if any man is indicted under the pretence that he is publishing immoral books, is to have our Committee of Defence well examine the case; and if we believe the man to be innocent we will help defend him if he is unable to defend himself; and if we find that the law is wrong in that particular, we will go for the amendment of that law. I beg of you to have some sense in this matter. We must have it. If we don’t, upon that rock we shall split—upon that rock we shall again divide. Let us not do it. The cause of intellectual liberty is the highest to the human mind. Let us stand by it, and we can help all these people by this resolution. We can do justice everywhere with it, while if we agree to the fifth and sixth resolutions that have been offered I say we lay ourselves open to the charge, and it will be hurled against us, no matter how unjustly, that we are in favor of widespread immorality.

“‘Mr. Clarke: We are not afraid of it.

“‘Colonel Ingersoll: You may say we are not afraid. I am not afraid. He only is a fool who rushes into unnecessary danger.

“‘Mr. Clarke: What are you talking about, anyway?

“‘Colonel Ingersoll: I am talking with endeavor to put a little sense into such men as you. Your very question shows that it was necessary that I should talk. And now I move that my resolution be adopted.

“‘Mr. Wakeman moved that it be added to that portion of the sixth resolution which recommended the constitution of the Committee of Defence.

“‘Col. Ingersoll: I cannot agree to the sixth resolution. I think nearly every word of it is wrong in principle. I think it binds us to a course of action that we shall not be willing to follow; and my resolution covers every possible case. My resolution binds us to defend every honest man in the exercise of his right. I can’t be bound to say that the Government hasn’t control of its morals—that we cannot trust the Federal courts—that, under any circumstances, at any time, I am bound to defend, either by word or money, any man who violates the laws of this country.

“‘Mr. Wakeman: We do not say that.

“‘Colonel Ingersoll: I beg of you, I beseech you, not to pass the sixth resolution. If you do, I wouldn’t give that [snapping his fingers] for the platform. A part of the Comstock law authorizes the vilest possible trick. We are all opposed to that.

“‘Mr. Leland: What is the question?

“‘Colonel Ingersoll: Don’t let us be silly. Don’t let us say we are opposed to what we are not opposed to. If any man here is opposed to putting down the vilest of all possible trash he ought to go home. We are opposed to only a part of the law—opposed to it whenever they endeavor to trample Freethought under foot in the name of immorality.

Afterward, at the same session of the Congress, the following colloquy took place between Colonel Ingersoll and T. B. Wakeman:

“‘Colonel Ingersoll: You know as well as I that there are certain books not fit to go through the mails—books and pictures not fit to be delivered.

“‘Mr. Wakeman: That is so.

“‘Colonel Ingersoll: There is not a man here who is not in favor, when these books and pictures come into the control of the United States, of burning them up when they are manifestly obscene. You don’t want any grand jury there.

“‘Mr. Wakeman: Yes, we do.

“‘Colonel Ingersoll: No, we don’t. When they are manifestly obscene, burn them up.

“‘A delegate: Who is to be judge of that?

“‘Colonel Ingersoll: There are books that nobody differs about. There are certain things about which we can use discretion. If that discretion is abused, a man has his remedy. We stand for the free thought of this country. We stand for the progressive spirit of the United States. We can’t afford to say that all these laws should be repealed. If we had time to investigate them we could say in what they should be amended. Don’t tie us to this nonsense—to the idea that we have an interest in immoral literature. Let us remember that Mr. Wakeman is sore. He had a case before the Federal courts, and he imagines, having lost that case, you cannot depend on them. I have lost hundreds of cases. I have as much confidence in the Federal courts as in the State courts. I am not to be a party to throwing a slur upon the Federal judiciary. All we want is fair play. We want the same chance for our doctrines that others have for theirs. And how this infernal question of obscenity ever got into the Liberal League I could never understand. If an innocent man is convicted of larceny, should we repeal all the laws on the subject? I don’t pretend to be better than other people.

It is easy to talk right—so easy to be right that I never care to have the luxury of being wrong. I am advocating something that we can stand upon. I do not misunderstand Mr. Wakeman’s motives. I believe they are perfectly good—that he is thoroughly honest. Why not just say we will stand by freedom of thought and its expression? Why not say that we are in favor of amending any law that is wrong? But do not make the wholesale statement that all these laws ought to be repealed. They ought not to be repealed. Some of them are good.” The law against sending instruments of vice in the mails is good, as is the law against sending obscene books and pictures, and the law against letting ignorant hyenas prey upon sick people, and the law which prevents the getters up of bogus lotteries sending their letters through the mail.’

“At the evening session of the Congress, on the same day, Mr. Ingersoll made this speech in opposition to the resolution demanding the repeal of the Comstock laws:

“‘I am not in favor of the repeal of those laws. I have never been, and I never expect to be. But I do wish that every law providing for the punishment of a criminal offence should distinctly define the offence. That is the objection to this law, that it does not define the offence, so that an American citizen can readily know when he is about to violate it and consequently the law ought in all probability to be modified in that regard. I am in favor of every law defining with perfect distinctness the offence to be punished, but I cannot say by wholesale these laws should be repealed. I have the cause of Freethought too much at heart. Neither will I consent to the repeal simply because the church is in favor of those laws. In so far as the church agrees with me, I congratulate the church. In so far as superstition is willing to help me, good! I am willing to accept it. I believe, also, that this League is upon a secular basis, and there should be nothing in our platform that would prevent any Christian from acting with us. What is our platform?—and we ought to leave it as it is. It needs no amendment. Our platform is for a secular government. Is it improper in a secular government to endeavor to prevent the spread of obscene literature? It is the business of a secular government to do it, but if that government attempts to stamp out Freethought in the name of obscenity, it is then for the friends of Freethought to call for a definition of the word, and such a definition as will allow Freethought to go everywhere through all the mails of the United States. We are also in favor of secular schools. Good! We are in favor of doing away with every law that discriminates against a man on account of his belief. Good! We are in favor of universal education. Good! We are in favor of the taxation of church property. Good!—because the experience of the world shows that where you allow superstition to own property without taxing it, it will absorb the net profits. Is it time now that we should throw into the scale, against all these splendid purposes, an effort to repeal some postal laws against obscenity? As well might we turn the League into an engine to do away with all laws against the sale of stale eggs.

“‘What have we to do with those things? Is it possible that Freethought can be charged with being obscene? Is it possible that, if the charge is made, it can be substantiated? Can you not attack any superstition in the world in perfectly pure language? Can you not attack anything you please in perfectly pure language? And where a man intends right, no law should find him guilty; and if the law is weak in that respect, let it be modified. But I say to you that I cannot go with any body of men who demand the unconditional repeal of these laws. I believe in liberty as much as any man that breathes. I will do as much, according to my ability, as any other man to make this an absolutely free and secular government I will do as much as any other man of my strength and of my intellectual power to give every human being every right that I claim for myself. But this obscene law business is a stumbling block. Had it not been for this, instead of the few people voting here—less than one hundred—we would have had a Congress numbered by thousands. Had it not been for this business, the Liberal League of the United States would to-night hold in its hand the political destiny of the United States. Instead of that, we have thrown away our power upon a question in which we are not interested. Instead of that, we have wasted our resources and our brain for the repeal of a law that we don’t want repealed. If we want anything, we simply want a modification. Now, then, don’t stain this cause by such a course. And don’t understand that I am pretending, or am insinuating, that anyone here is in favor of obscene literature. It is a question, not of principle, but of means, and I beg pardon of this Convention if I have done anything so horrible as has been described by Mr. Pillsbury. I regret it if I have ever endeavored to trample upon the rights of this Convention.

“‘There is one thing I have not done—I have not endeavored to cast five votes when I didn’t have a solitary vote. Let us be fair; let us be fair. I have simply given my vote. I wish to trample upon the rights of no one; and when Mr. Pillsbury gave those votes he supposed he had a right to give them; and if he had a right, the votes would have been counted. I attribute nothing wrong to him, but I say this: I have the right to make a motion in this Congress, I have the right to argue that motion, but I have no more rights than any other member, and I claim none. But I want to say to you—and I want you to know and feel it—that I want to act with every Liberal man and woman in this world. I want you to know and feel it that I want to do everything I can to get every one of these statutes off our books that discriminates against a man because of his religious belief—that I am in favor of a secular government, and of all these rights. But I cannot, and I will not, operate with any organization that asks for the unconditional repeal of those laws. I will stand alone, and I have stood alone. I can tell my thoughts to my countrymen, and I will do it, and whatever position you take, whether I am with you or not, you will find me battling everywhere for the absolute freedom of the human mind. You will find me battling everywhere to make this world better and grander; and whatever my personal conduct may be, I shall endeavor to keep my theories right. I beg of you, I implore you, do not pass the resolution No. 6. It is not for our interest; it will do us no good. It will lose us hosts of honest, splendid friends. Do not do it; it will be a mistake; and the only reason I offered the motion was to give the members time to think this over. I am not pretending to know more than other people. I am perfectly willing to say that in many things I know less. But upon this subject I want you to think. No matter whether you are afraid of your sons, your daughters, your wives, or your husbands, that isn’t it—I don’t want the splendid prospects of this League put in jeopardy upon such an issue as this. I have no more to say. But if that resolution is passed, all I have to say is that, while I shall be for liberty everywhere, I cannot act with this organization, and I will not.’

“The resolution was finally adopted, and Colonel Ingersoll resigned his office of vice-president in the League, and never acted with it again until the League dropped all side issues, and came back to first principles—the enforcement of the Nine Demands of Liberalism.”

In 1892, writing upon this subject in answer to a minister who had repeated these absurd charges, Colonel Ingersoll made this offer:

“I will pay a premium of one thousand dollars a word for each and every word I ever said or wrote in favor of sending obscene publications through the mails.”


Cincinnati, O., September 14, 1878.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: Allow me to say that the cause nearest my heart, and to which I am willing to devote the remainder of my life, is the absolute, the absolute, enfranchisement of the human mind. I believe that the family is the unit of good government, and that every good government is simply an aggregation of good families. I therefore not only believe in perfect civil and religious liberty, but I believe in the one man loving the one woman. I believe the real temple of the human heart is the hearthstone, and that there is where the sacrifice of life should be made; and just in proportion as we have that idea in this country, just in that proportion we shall advance and become a great, glorious and splendid nation. I do not want the church or the state to come between the man and wife. I want to do what little I can while I live to strengthen and render still more sacred the family relation. I am also in favor of granting every right to every other human being that I claim for myself; and when I look about upon the world and see how the children that are born to-day, or this year, or this age, came into a world that has nearly all been taken up before their arrival; when I see that they have not even an opportunity to labor for bread; when I see that in our splendid country some who do the most have the least, and others who do the least have the most; I say to myself there is something wrong somewhere, and I hope the time will come when every child that nature has invited to our feast will have an equal right with all the others. There is only one way, in my judgment, to bring that about; and that is, first, not simply by the education of the head, but by the universal education of the heart. The time will come when a man with millions in his possession will not be respected unless with those millions he improves the condition of his fellow-men.

The time will come when it will be utterly impossible for a man to go down to death, grasping millions in the clutch of avarice. The time will come when it will be impossible for such a man to exist, for he will be followed by the scorn and execration of mankind. The time will come when such a man when stricken by death, cannot purchase the favor of posterity by leaving a portion of the gains which he has wrung from the poor, to some church or Bible society for the glory of God.

Now, let me say that we have met together as a Liberal League. We have passed the same platform again; but if you will read that platform you will see that it covers nearly every word that I have spoken—universal education—the laws of science included, not the guesses of superstition—universal education, not for the next world but for this—happiness, not so much for an unknown land beyond the clouds as for this life in this world. I do not say that there is not another life. If there is any God who has allowed his children to be oppressed in this world he certainly needs another life to reform the blunders he has made in this.

Now, let us all agree that we will stand by each other splendidly, grandly; and when we come into convention let us pass resolutions that are broad, kind, and genial, because, if you are true Liberals, you will hold in a kind of tender pity the most outrageous superstitions in the world. I have said some things in my time that were not altogether charitable; but, after all, when I think it over, I see that men are as they are, because they are the result of every thing that has ever been.

Sometimes I think the clergy a necessary evil; but I say, let us be genial and kind, and let us know that every other person has the same right to be a Catholic or a Presbyterian, and gather consolation from the doctrine of reprobation, that he has the same right to be a Methodist or a Christian Disciple or a Baptist; the same right to believe these phantasies and follies and superstitions—[A voice—”And to burn heretics?”]

No—The same right that we have to believe that it is all superstition. But when that Catholic or Baptist or Methodist endeavors to put chains on the bodies or intellects of men, it is then the duty of every Liberal to prevent it at all hazards. If we can do any good in our day and generation, let us do it.

There is no office I want in this world. I will make up my mind as to the next when I get there, because my motto is—and with that motto I will close what I have to say—My motto is: One world at a time!


Albany, N. Y., September 13, 1885.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: While I have never sought any place in any organization, and while I never intended to accept any place in any organization, yet as you have done me the honor to elect me president of the American Secular Union, I not only accept the place, but tender to you each and all my sincere thanks.

This is a position that a man cannot obtain by repressing his honest thought. Nearly all other positions he obtains in that way. But I am glad that the time has come when men can afford to preserve their manhood in this country. Maybe they cannot be elected to the Legislature, cannot become errand boys in Congress, cannot be placed as weather-vanes in the presidential chair, but the time has come when a man can express his honest thought and be treated like a gentleman in the United States. We have arrived at a point where priests do not govern, and have reached that stage of our journey where we, as Harriet Martineau expressed it, are “free rovers on the breezy common of the universe.” Day by day we are getting rid of the aristocracy of the air. We have been the slaves of phantoms long enough, and a new day, a day of glory, has dawned upon this new world—this new world which is far beyond the old in the real freedom of thought.

In the selection of your officers, without referring to myself, I think you have shown great good sense. The first man chosen as vice-president, Mr. Charles Watts, is a gentleman of sound, logical mind; one who knows what he wants to say and how to say it; who is familiar with the organization of Secular societies, knows what we wish to accomplish and the means to attain it. I am glad that he is about to make this country his home, and I know of no man who, in my judgment, can do more for the cause of intellectual liberty.

The next vice-president, Mr. Remsburg, has done splendid work all over the country. He is an absolutely fearless man, and tells really and truly what his mind produces. We need such men everywhere.

You know it is almost a rule, or at any rate the practice, in political parties and in organizations generally, to be so anxious for success that all the offices and places of honor are given to those who will come in at the eleventh hour. The rule is to hold out these honors as bribes for newcomers instead of conferring them upon those who have borne the heat and burden of the day. I hope that the American Secular Union will not be guilty of any such injustice. Bestow your honors upon the men who stood by you when you had few friends, the men who enlisted for the war when the cause needed soldiers. Give your places to them, and if others want to join your ranks, welcome them heartily to the places of honor in the rear and let them learn how to keep step.

In this particular, leaving out myself as I have said, you have done magnificently well. Mrs. Mattie Krekel, another vice-president, is a woman who has the courage to express her opinions, and she is all the more to be commended because, as you know, women have to suffer a little more punishment than men, being amenable to social laws that are more exacting and tyrannical than those passed by Legislatures.

Of Mr. Wakeman it is not necessary to speak. You all know him to be an able, thoughtful, and experienced man, capable in every respect; one who has been in this organization from the beginning, and who is now president of the New York society. Elizur Wright, one of the patriarchs of Freethought, who was battling for liberty before I was born, and who will be found in the front rank until he ceases to be. You have honored yourselves by electing James Parton, a thoughtful man, a scholar, a philosopher, and a philanthropist—honest, courageous, and logical—with a mind as clear as a cloudless sky. Parker Pillsbury, who has always been on the side of liberty, always willing, if need be, to stand alone—a man who has been mobbed many times because he had the goodness and courage to denounce the institution of slavery—a man possessed of the true martyr spirit. Messrs. Algie and Adams, our friends from Canada, men of the highest character, worthy of our fullest confidence and esteem—conscientious, upright, and faithful.

And permit me to say that I know of no man of kinder heart, of gentler disposition, with more real, good human feeling toward all the world, with a more forgiving and tender spirit, than Horace Seaver. He and Mr. Mendum are the editors of the Investigator, the first Infidel paper I ever saw, and I guess the first that any one of you ever saw—a paper once edited by Abner Kneeland, who was put in prison for saying, “The Universalists believe in a God which I do not.” The court decided that he had denied the existence of a Supreme Being, and at that time it was not thought safe to allow a remark of that kind to be made, and so, for the purpose of keeping an infinite God from tumbling off his throne, Mr. Kneeland was put in jail. But Horace Seaver and Mr. Mendum went on with his work. They are pioneers in this cause, and they have been absolutely true to the principles of Freethought from the first day until now.

If there is anybody belonging to our Secular Union more enthusiastic and better calculated to impart something of his enthusiasm to others than Samuel P. Putnam, our secretary, I do not know him. Courtlandt Palmer, your treasurer, you all know, and you will presently know him better when you hear the speech he is about to make, and that speech will speak better for him than I possibly can. Wait until you hear him, as he is now waiting for me to get through that you may hear him. He will give you the definition of the true gentleman, and that definition will be a truthful description of himself.

Mr. Reynolds is on our side if anybody is or ever was, and Mr. Macdonald, editor of The Truth Seeker, aiming not only to seek the truth but to expose error, has done and is doing incalculable good in the cause of mental freedom.

All these men and women are men and women of character, of high purpose; in favor of Freethought not as a peculiarity or as an eccentricity of the hour, but with all their hearts, through and through, to the very center and core of conviction, life, and purpose.

And so I can congratulate you on your choice, and believe that you have entered upon the most prosperous year of your existence. I believe that you will do all you can to have every law repealed that puts a hypocrite above an honest mail. We know that no man is thoroughly honest who does not tell his honest thought. We want the Sabbath day for ourselves and our families. Let the gods have the heavens. Give us the earth. If the gods want to stay at home Sundays and look solemn, let them do it; let us have a little wholesome recreation and pleasure. If the gods wish to go out with their wives and children, let them go. If they want to play billiards with the stars, so they don’t carom on us, let them play.

We want to do what we can to compel every church to pay taxes on its property as other people pay on theirs. Do you know that if church property is allowed to go without taxation, it is only a question of time when they will own a large per cent, of the property of the civilized world? It is the same as compound interest; only give it time. If you allow it to increase without taxing it for its protection, its growth can only be measured by the time in which it has to grow. The church builds an edifice in some small town, gets several acres of land. In time a city rises around it. The labor of others has added to the value of this property, until it is worth millions. If this property is not taxed, the churches will have so much in their hands that they will again become dangerous to the liberties of mankind. There never will be real liberty in this country until all property is put upon a perfect equality. If you want to build a Joss house, pay taxes. If you want to build churches, pay taxes. If you want to build a hall or temple in which Freethought and science are to be taught, pay taxes. Let there be no property untaxed. When you fail to tax any species of property, you increase the tax of other people owning the rest. To that extent, you unite church and state. You compel the Infidel to support the Catholic. I do not want to support the Catholic Church. It is not worth supporting. It is an unadulterated evil. Neither do I want to reform the Catholic Church. The only reformation of which that church or any orthodox church is capable, is destruction. I want to spend no more money on superstition. Neither should our money be taken to support sectarian schools. We do not wish to employ any chaplains in the navy, or in the army, or in the Legislatures, or in Congress. It is useless to ask God to help the political party that happens to be in power. We want no President, no Governor “clothed with a little brief authority,” to issue a proclamation as though he were an agent of God, authorized to tell all his loving subjects to fast on a certain day, or to enter their churches and pray for the accomplishment of a certain object. It is none of his business. When they called on Thomas Jefferson to issue a proclamation, he said he had no right to do it, that religion was a personal, individual matter, and that the state had no right, no power, to interfere.

I now have the pleasure of introducing Mr. Courtlandt Palmer, who will speak to you on the “Aristocracy of Freethought,” in my judgment the aristocracy not only of the present, but the aristocracy of the future.


New York, May 28, 1896.

MY DEAR MR. SEIP: I have carefully read your article on the religious belief of Abraham Lincoln, and in accordance with your request I will not only give you my opinion of the evidence upon which you rely, as set out in your article, but my belief as to the religious opinions of Mr. Lincoln, and the facts on which my belief rests.

You speak of a controversy between myself and General Collis upon this subject. A few years ago I delivered a lecture on Mr. Lincoln, in this city, and in that lecture said that Lincoln, so far as his religious opinions were concerned, substantially agreed with Franklin, Jefferson, Paine and Voltaire. Thereupon General Collis wrote me a note contradicting what I had said and asserting that “Lincoln invoked the power of Almighty God, not the Deist God, but the God whom he worshiped under the forms of the Christian church of which he was a member.” To this I replied saying that Voltaire and Paine both believed in God, and that Lincoln was never a member of any Christian church.

General Collis wrote another letter to which, I think, I made no reply, for the reason that the General had demonstrated that he knew nothing whatever on the subject. It was evident that he had never read the life of Lincoln, because if he had, he would not have said that he was a member of a church. It was also evident that he knew nothing about the religious opinions of Franklin, Voltaire or Paine, or he would have known that they were believers in the existence of a Supreme Being. It did not seem to me that his letter was worthy of a reply.

Now as to your article: I find in what you have written very little that is new. I do not remember ever to have seen anything about the statement of the daughter of the Rev. Mr. Gurley in regard to Lincoln’s letters. The daughter, however, does not pretend to know the contents of the letters and says that they were destroyed by fire; consequently these letters, so far as this question is concerned, are of no possible importance. The only thing in your article tending to show that Lincoln was a Christian is the following: “I think I can say with sincerity that I hope I am a Christian. I had lived until my Willie died without fully realizing these things. That blow overwhelmed me. It showed me my weakness as I had never felt it before, and I think I can safely say that I know something of a change of heart, and I will further add that it has been my intention for some time, at a suitable opportunity, to make a public religious profession.”

Now, if you had given the name of the person to whom this was said, and if that person had told you that Lincoln did utter these words, then the evidence would have been good; but you are forced to say that this was said to an eminent Christian lady. You do not give this lady’s name. I take it for granted that her name is unknown, and that the name of the person to whom she told the story is also unknown, and that the name of the man who gave the story to the world is unknown. This falsehood, according to your own showing, is an orphan, a lonely lie without father or mother. Such testimony cannot be accepted. It is not even good hearsay.

In the next point you make, you also bring forward the remarks claimed to have been made by Mr. Lincoln when some colored people of Baltimore presented him with a Bible. You say that he said that the Bible was God’s best gift to man, and but for the Bible we could not know right from wrong. It is impossible that Lincoln should have uttered these words. He certainly would not have said to some colored people that the book that instituted human slavery was God’s best gift to man; neither could he have said that but for this book we could not know right from wrong. If he said these things he was temporarily insane. Mr. Lincoln was familiar with the lives of Socrates, Epictetus, Epicurus, Zeno, Confucius, Zoroaster and Buddha, not one of whom ever heard of the Bible. Certainly these men knew right from wrong. In my judgment they would compare favorably with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and the Jews that crucified Christ. These pretended remarks must be thrown away; they could have been uttered only by an ignorant and thoughtless zealot, not by a sensible, thoughtful man. Neither can we rely on any new evidence given by the Rev. Mr. Gurley. If Mr. Gurley at any time claimed that Lincoln was a Christian, such claim was born of an afterthought. Mr. Gurley preached a funeral sermon over the body of Lincoln at the White House, and in that sermon he did not claim that Mr. Lincoln was in any sense a Christian. He said nothing about Christ. So, the testimony of the Rev. Mr. Sunderland amounts to nothing. Lincoln did not tell him that he was a Christian or that he believed in Christ. Not one of the ministers that claim that Lincoln was a Christian, not one, testifies that Lincoln so said in his hearing. So, the lives that have been written of Lincoln by Holland and Arnold are of no possible authority. Holland knew nothing about Lincoln; he relied on gossip, and was exceedingly anxious to make Lincoln a Christian so that his Life would sell. As a matter of fact, Mr. Arnold knew little of Lincoln, and knew no more of his religious opinions than he seems to have known about the opinions of Washington.

I find also in your article a claim that Lincoln said to somebody that under certain conditions, that is to say, if a church had the Golden Rule for its creed, he would join that church; but you do not give the name of the friend to whom Lincoln made this declaration. Still, if he made it, it does not tend to show that he was a Christian. A church founded on the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would that others should do unto you,” would not in any sense be a Christian church. It would be an ethical society. The testimony of Mr. Bateman has been changed by himself, he having admitted that it was colored, that he was not properly reported; so the night-walking scene given by James E. Murdoch, does not even tend to show that Lincoln was a Christian. According to Mr. Murdoch he was praying to the God of Solomon and he never mentioned the name of Christ. I think, however, Mr. Murdoch’s story is too theatrical, and my own opinion is that it was a waking dream. I think Lincoln was a man of too much sense, too much tact, to have said anything to God about Solomon. Lincoln knew that what God did for Solomon ended in failure, and if he wanted God to do something for him (Lincoln) he would not have called attention to the other case. So Bishop Simpson, in his oration or funeral sermon, said nothing about Lincoln’s having been a Christian.

Now, what is the testimony that you present that Lincoln was a Christian?

First, Several of your witnesses say that he believed in God.

Second, Some say that he believed in the efficacy of prayer.

Third, Some say that he was a believer in Providence.

Fourth, An unknown person says that he said to another unknown person that he was a Christian.

Fifth, You also claim that he said the Bible was the best gift of God to man, and that without it we could not have known right from wrong.

The anonymous testimony has to be thrown away, so nothing is left except the remarks claimed to have been made when the Bible was presented by the colored people, and these remarks destroy themselves. It is absolutely impossible that Lincoln could have uttered the words attributed to him on that occasion. I know of no one who heard the words, I know of no witness who says he heard them or that he knows anybody who did. These remarks were not even heard by an “eminent Christian lady,” and we are driven to say that if Lincoln was a Christian he took great pains to keep it a secret.

I believe that I am familiar with the material facts bearing upon the religious belief of Mr. Lincoln, and that I know what he thought of orthodox Christianity. I was somewhat acquainted with him and well acquainted with many of his associates and friends, and I am familiar with Mr. Lincoln’s public utterances. Orthodox Christians have the habit of claiming all great men, all men who have held important positions, men of reputation, men of wealth. As soon as the funeral is over clergymen begin to relate imaginary conversations with the deceased, and in a very little while the great man is changed to a Christian—possibly to a saint.

All this happened in Mr. Lincoln’s case. Many pious falsehoods were told, conversations were manufactured, and suddenly the church claimed that the great President was an orthodox Christian. The truth is that Lincoln in his religious views agreed with Franklin, Jefferson, and Voltaire. He did not believe in the inspiration of the Bible or the divinity of Christ or the scheme of salvation, and he utterly repudiated the dogma of eternal pain.

In making up my mind as to what Mr. Lincoln really believed, I do not take into consideration the evidence of unnamed persons or the contents of anonymous letters; I take the testimony of those who knew and loved him, of those to whom he opened his heart and to whom he spoke in the freedom of perfect confidence.

Mr. Herndon was his friend and partner for many years. I knew Mr. Herndon well. I know that Lincoln never had a better, warmer, truer friend. Herndon was an honest, thoughtful, able, studious man, respected by all who knew him. He was as natural and sincere as Lincoln himself. On several occasions Mr. Herndon told me what Lincoln believed and what he rejected in the realm of religion. He told me again and again that Mr. Lincoln did not believe in the inspiration of the Bible, the divinity of Christ, or in the existence of a personal God. There was no possible reason for Mr. Herndon to make a mistake or to color the facts.

Justice David Davis was a life-long friend and associate of Mr. Lincoln, and Judge Davis knew Lincoln’s religious opinions and knew Lincoln as well as anybody did. Judge Davis told me that Lincoln was a Freethinker, that he denied the inspiration of the Bible, the divinity of Christ, and all miracles. Davis also told me that he had talked with Lincoln on these subjects hundreds of times.

I was well acquainted with Col. Ward H. Lamon and had many conversations with him about Mr. Lincoln’s religious belief, before and after he wrote his life of Lincoln. He told me that he had told the exact truth in his life of Lincoln, that Lincoln never did believe in the Bible, or in the divinity of Christ, or in the dogma of eternal pain; that Lincoln was a Freethinker.

For many years I was well acquainted with the Hon. Jesse W. Fell, one of Lincoln’s warmest friends. Mr. Fell often came to my house and we had many talks about the religious belief of Mr. Lincoln. Mr. Fell told me that Lincoln did not believe in the inspiration of the Scriptures, and that he denied the divinity of Jesus Christ. Mr. Fell was very liberal in his own ideas, a great admirer of Theodore Parker and a perfectly sincere and honorable man.

For several years I was well acquainted with William G. Green, who was a clerk with Lincoln at New Salem in the early days, and who admired and loved Lincoln with all his heart. Green told me that Lincoln was always an Infidel, and that he had heard him argue against the Bible hundreds of times. Mr. Green knew Lincoln, and knew him well, up to the time of Lincoln’s death.

The Hon. James Tuttle of Illinois was a great friend of Lincoln, and he is, if living, a friend of mine, and I am a friend of his. He knew Lincoln well for many years, and he told me again and again that Lincoln was an Infidel. Mr. Tuttle is a Freethinker himself and has always enjoyed the respect of his neighbors. A man with purer motives does not live.

So I place great reliance on the testimony of Col. John G. Nicolay. Six weeks after Mr. Lincoln’s death Colonel Nicolay said that he did not in any way change his religious ideas, opinions or belief from the time he left Springfield until the day of his death.

In addition to all said by the persons I have mentioned, Mrs. Lincoln said that her husband was not a Christian. There are many other witnesses upon this question whose testimony can be found in a book entitled “Abraham Lincoln, was he a Christian?” written by John E. Remsburg, and published in 1893. In that book will be found all the evidence on both sides. Mr. Remsburg states the case with great clearness and demonstrates that Lincoln was not a Christian.

Now, what is a Christian?

First. He is a believer in the existence of God, the Creator and Governor of the Universe.

Second. He believes in the inspiration of the Old and New Testaments.

Third. He believes in the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ; that the Holy Ghost was his father.

Fourth. He believes that this Christ was offered as a sacrifice for the sins of men, that he was crucified, dead and buried, that he arose from the dead and that he ascended into heaven.

Fifth. He believes in the “fall of man,” in the scheme of redemption through the atonement.

Sixth. He believes in salvation by faith, that the few are to be eternally happy, and that the many are to be eternally damned.

Seventh. He believes in the Trinity, in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost.

Now, is there the slightest evidence to show that Lincoln believed in the inspiration of the Old and New Testaments?

Has anybody said that he was heard to say that he so believed?

Does anybody testify that Lincoln believed in the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ, that the Holy Ghost was the father or that Christ was or is God?

Has anybody testified that Lincoln believed that Christ was raised from the dead?

Did anyone ever hear him say that he believed in the ascension of Jesus Christ? Did anyone ever hear him assert that he believed in the forgiveness of sins, or in salvation by faith, or that belief was a virtue and investigation a crime?

Where, then, is the evidence that he was a Christian?

There is another reason for thinking that Lincoln never became a Christian.

All will admit that he was an honest man, that he discharged all obligations perceived, and did what he believed to be his duty. If he had become a Christian it was his duty publicly to say so. He was President; he had the ear of the nation; every citizen, had he spoken, would have listened. It was his duty to make a clear, explicit statement of his conversion, and it was his duty to join some orthodox church, and he should have given his reasons. He should have endeavored to reach the heart and brain of the Republic. It was unmanly for him to keep his “second birth” a secret and sneak into heaven leaving his old friends to travel the road to hell.

Great pains have been taken to show that Mr. Lincoln believed in, and worshiped the one true God. This by many is held to have been his greatest virtue, the foundation of his character, and yet, the God he worshiped, the God to whom he prayed, allowed him to be assassinated.

Is it possible that God will not protect his friends?


I HAVE no great confidence in organized charities. Money is left and buildings are erected and sinecures provided for a good many worthless people. Those in immediate control are almost, or when they were appointed were almost, in want themselves, and they naturally hate other beggars.

They regard persons who ask assistance as their enemies. There is an old story of a tramp who begged a breakfast. After breakfast another tramp came to the same place to beg his breakfast, and the first tramp with blows and curses drove him away, saying at the same time: “I expect to get dinner here myself.”

This is the general attitude of beggar toward beggar.

Another trouble with organized charities is the machinery, the various methods they have adopted to prevent what they call fraud. They are exceedingly anxious that the needy, that those who ask help, who have been without fault, shall be attended to, their rule apparently being to assist only the unfortunate perfect.

The trouble is that Nature produces very few specimens of that kind. As a rule, men come to want on account of their imperfections, on account of their ignorance, on account of their vices, and their vices are born of their lack of capacity, of their want of brain. In other words, they are failures of Nature, and the fact that they need help is not their own fault, but the fault of their construction, their surroundings.

Very few people have the opportunity of selecting their parents, and it is exceedingly difficult in the matter of grandparents. Consequently, I do not hold people responsible for hereditary tendencies, traits and vices. Neither do I praise them for having hereditary virtues.

A man going to one of these various charitable establishments is cross-examined. He must give his biography. And after he has answered all the supercilious, impudent questions, he is asked for references.

Then the people referred to are sought out, to find whether the statements made by the applicant are true. By the time the thing is settled the man who asked aid has either gotten it somewhere else or has, in the language of the Spiritualists, “passed over to the other side.”

Of course this does not trouble the persons in charge of the organized charities, because their salaries are going on.

As a rule, these charities were commenced by the best of people. Some generous, philanthropic man or woman gave a life to establish a “home,” it may be, for aged women, for orphans, for the waifs of the pavements.

These generous people, filled with the spirit of charity, raised a little money, succeeded in hiring or erecting a humble building, and the money they collected, so honestly given, they honestly used to bind up the wounds and wipe away the tears of the unfortunate, and to save, if possible, some who had been wrecked on the rocks and reefs of crime.

Then some very rich man dies who had no charity and who would not have left a dollar could he have taken his money with him. This rich man, who hated his relatives and the people he actually knew, gives a large sum of money to some particular charity—not that he had any charity, but because he wanted to be remembered as a philanthropist.

Then the organized charity becomes rich, and the richer the meaner, the richer the harder of heart and the closer of fist.

Now, I believe that TrinityChurch, in this city, would be called an organized charity. The church was started to save, if possible, a few souls from eternal torment, and on the plea of saving these souls money was given to the church.

Finally the church became rich. It is now a landlord—has many buildings to rent. And if what I hear is true there is no harder landlord in the city of New York.

So, I have heard it said of DublinUniversity, that it is about the hardest landlord in Ireland.

I think you will find that all such institutions try to collect the very last cent, and, in the name of pity, drive pity from their hearts.

I think it is Shakespeare who says, “Pity drives out pity,” and he must have had organized charities in his mind when he uttered this remark. Of course a great many really good and philanthropic people leave vast sums of money to charities.

I find that it is sometimes very difficult to get an injured man, or one seized with some sudden illness, taken into a city hospital. There are so many rules and so many regulations, so many things necessary to be done, that while the rules are being complied with the soul of the sick or injured man, weary of the waiting, takes its flight. And after the man is dead, the doctors are kind enough to certify that he died of heart failure.

So—in a general way—I speak of all the asylums, of all the homes for orphans. When I see one of those buildings I feel that it is full of petty tyranny, of what might be called pious meanness, devout deviltry, where the object is to break the will of every recipient of public favor.

I may be all wrong. I hope I am. At the same time I fear that I am somewhere near right.

You may take our prisons; the treatment of prisoners is often infamous. The Elmira Reformatory is a worthy successor of the Inquisition, a disgrace, in my judgment, to the State of New York, to the civilization of our day. Every little while something comes to light showing the cruelty, the tyranny, the meanness, of these professional distributers of public charity—of these professed reformers.

I know that they are visited now and then by committees from the Legislature, and I know that the keepers of these places know when the “committee” may be expected.

I know that everything is scoured and swept and burnished for the occasion; and I know that the poor devils that have been abused or whipped or starved, fear to open their mouths, knowing that if they do they may not be believed and that they will be treated afterward as though they were wild beasts.

I think these public institutions ought to be open to inspection at all times. I think the very best men ought to be put in control of them. I think only those doctors who have passed, and recently passed, examinations as to their fitness, as to their intelligence and professional acquirements, ought to be put in charge.

I do not think that hospitals should be places for young doctors to practice sawing off the arms and legs of paupers or hunting in the stomachs of old women for tumors. I think only the skillful, the experienced, should be employed in such places. Neither do I think hospitals should be places where medicine is distributed by students to the poor.

Ignorance is a poor doctor, even for the poor, and if we pretend to be charitable we ought to carry it out.

I would like to see tyranny done away with in prisons, in the reformatories, and in all places under the government or supervision of the State.

I would like to have all corporal punishment abolished, and I would also like to see the money that is given to charity distributed by charity and by intelligence. I hope all these institutions will be overhauled.

I hope all places where people are pretending to take care of the poor and for which they collect money from the public, will be visited, and will be visited unexpectedly and the truth told.

In my judgment there is some better way. I think every hospital, every asylum, every home for waifs and orphans should be supported by taxation, not by charity; should be under the care and control of the State absolutely.

I do not believe in these institutions being managed by any individual or by any society, religious or secular, but by the State. I would no more have hospitals and asylums depend on charity than I would have the public school depend on voluntary contributions.

I want the schools supported by taxation and to be controlled by the State, and I want the hospitals and asylums and charitable institutions founded and controlled and carried on in the same way. Let the property of the State do it.

Let those pay the taxes who are able. And let us do away forever with the idea that to take care of the sick, of the helpless, is a charity. It is not a charity. It is a duty. It is something to be done for our own sakes. It is no more a charity than it is to pave or light the streets, no more a charity than it is to have a system of sewers.

It is all for the purpose of protecting society and of civilizing ourselves.


SPAIN has always been exceedingly religious and exceedingly cruel. That country had an unfortunate experience. The Spaniards fought the Moors for about seven hundred or eight hundred years, and during that time Catholicism and patriotism became synonymous. They were fighting the Moslems. It was a religious war. For this reason they became intense in their Catholicism, and they were fearful that if they should grant the least concession to the Moor, God would destroy them. Their idea was that the only way to secure divine aid was to have absolute faith, and this faith was proved by their hatred of all ideas inconsistent with their own.

Spain has been and is the victim of superstition. The Spaniards expelled the Jews, who at that time represented a good deal of wealth and considerable intelligence. This expulsion was characterized by infinite brutality and by cruelties that words can not express. They drove out the Moors at last. Not satisfied with this, they drove out the Moriscoes. These were Moors who had been converted to Catholicism.

The Spaniards, however, had no confidence in the honesty of the conversion, and for the purpose of gaining the good will of God, they drove them out. They had succeeded in getting rid of Jews, Moors and Moriscoes; that is to say, of the intelligence and industry of Spain. Nothing was left but Spaniards; that is to say, indolence, pride, cruelty and infinite superstition. So Spain destroyed all freedom of thought through the Inquisition, and for many years the sky was livid with the flames of the Auto da fe; Spain was busy carrying fagots to the feet of philosophy, busy in burning people for thinking, for investigating, for expressing honest opinions. The result was that a great darkness settled over Spain, pierced by no star and shone upon by no rising sun.

At one time Spain was the greatest of powers, owner of half the world, and now she has only a few islands, the small change of her great fortune, the few pennies in the almost empty purse, souvenirs of departed wealth, of vanished greatness. Now Spain is bankrupt, bankrupt not only in purse, but in the higher faculties of the mind, a nation without progress, without thought; still devoted to bull fights and superstition, still trying to affright contagious diseases by religious processions. Spain is a part of the mediæval ages, belongs to an ancient generation. It really has no place in the nineteenth century.

Spain has always been cruel. S. S. Prentice, many years ago, speaking of Spain said: “On the shore of discovery it leaped an armed robber, and sought for gold even in the throats of its victims.” The bloodiest pages in the history of this world have been written by Spain. Spain in Peru, in Mexico, Spain in the low countries—all possible cruelties come back to the mind when we say Philip II., when we say the Duke of Alva, when we pronounce the names of Ferdinand and Isabella. Spain has inflicted every torture, has practiced every cruelty, has been guilty of every possible outrage. There has been no break between Torquemada and Weyler, between the Inquisition and the infamies committed in Cuba.

When Columbus found Cuba, the original inhabitants were the kindest and gentlest of people. They practiced no inhuman rites, they were good, contented people. The Spaniards enslaved them or sought to enslave them. The people rising, they were hunted with dogs, they were tortured, they were murdered, and finally exterminated. This was the commencement of Spanish rule on the island of Cuba. The same spirit is in Spain to-day that was in Spain then. The idea is not to conciliate, but to coerce, not to treat justly, but to rob and enslave. No Spaniard regards a Cuban as having equal rights with himself. He looks upon the island as property, and upon the people as a part of that property, both equally belonging to Spain.

Spain has kept no promises made to the Cubans and never will. At last the Cubans know exactly what Spain is, and they have made up their minds to be free or to be exterminated. There is nothing in history to equal the atrocities and outrages that have been perpetrated by Spain upon Cuba. What Spain does now, all know is only a repetition of what Spain has done, and this is a prophecy of what Spain will do if she has the power.

So far as I am concerned, I have no idea that there is to be any war between Spain and the United States. A country that can’t conquer Cuba, certainly has no very flattering chance of overwhelming the United States. A man that cannot whip one of his own boys is foolish when he threatens to clean out the whole neighborhood. Of course, there is some wisdom even in Spain, and the Spaniards who know anything of this country know that it would be absolute madness and the utmost extreme of folly to attack us. I believe in treating even Spain with perfect fairness. I feel about the country as Burns did about the Devil: “O wad ye tak’ a thought an’ mend!” I know that nations, like people, do as they must, and I regard Spain as the victim and result of conditions, the fruit of a tree that was planted by ignorance and watered by superstition.

I believe that Cuba is to be free, and I want that island to give a new flag to the air, whether it ever becomes a part of the United States or not. My sympathies are all with those who are struggling for their rights, trying to get the clutch of tyranny from their throats; for those who are defending their homes, their firesides, against tyrants and robbers.

Whether the Maine was blown up by the Spaniards is still a question. I suppose it will soon be decided. In my own opinion, the disaster came from the outside, but I do not know, and not knowing, I am willing to wait for the sake of human nature. I sincerely hope that it was an accident. I hate to think that there are people base and cruel enough to commit such an act. Still, I think that all these matters will be settled without war.

I am in favor of an international court, the members to be selected by the ruling nations of the world; and before this court I think all questions between nations should be decided, and the only army and the only navy should be under its direction, and used only for the purpose of enforcing its decrees. Were there such a court now, before which Cuba could appear and tell the story of her wrongs, of the murders, the assassinations, the treachery, the starvings, the cruelty, I think that the decision would instantly be in her favor and that Spain would be driven from the island. Until there is such a court there is no need of talking about the world being civilized.

I am not a Christian, but I do believe in the religion of justice, of kindness. I believe in humanity. I do believe that usefulness is the highest possible form of worship. The useful man is the good man, the useful man is the real saint. I care nothing about supernatural myths and mysteries, but I do care for human beings. I have a little short creed of my own, not very hard to understand, that has in it no contradictions, and it is this: Happiness is the only good. The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here. The way to be happy is to make others so.

I think this creed if adopted, would do away with war. I think it would destroy superstition, and I think it would civilize even Spain.


AS I understand it, the United States went into this war against Spain in the cause of freedom. For three years Spain has been endeavoring to conquer these people. The means employed were savage. Hundreds of thousands were starved. Yet the Cubans, with great heroism, were continuing the struggle. In spite of their burned homes, their wasted fields, their dead comrades, the Cubans were not conquered and still waged war. Under those circumstances we said to Spain, “You must withdraw from the Western World. The Cubans have the right to be free!” They have been robbed and enslaved by Spanish officers and soldiers. Undoubtedly they were savages when first found, and undoubtedly they are worse now than when discovered—more barbarous. They wouldn’t make very good citizens of the United States; they are probably incapable of self-government, but no people can be ignorant enough to be justly robbed or savage enough to be rightly enslaved. I think that we should keep the islands, not for our own sake, but for the sake of these people.

It was understood and declared at the time, that we were not waging war for the sake of territory, that we were not trying to annex Cuba, but that we were moved by compassion—a compassion that became as stern as justice. I did not think at the time there would be war. I supposed that the Spanish people had some sense, that they knew their own condition and the condition of this Republic. But the improbable happened, and now, after the successes we have had, the end of the war appears to be in sight, and the question arises: What shall we do with the Spanish islands that we have taken already, or that we may take before peace comes?

Of course, we could not, without stultifying ourselves and committing the greatest of crimes, hand back Cuba to Spain. But to do that would be no more criminal, no more infamous, than to hand back the Philippines. In those islands there are from eight to ten millions of people.

As far as the Philippines are concerned, I think that we should endeavor to civilize them, and to do this we should send teachers, not preachers. We should not endeavor to give them our superstition in place of Spanish superstition. They have had superstition enough. They don’t need churches, they need schools. We should teach them our arts; how to cultivate the soil, how to manufacture the things they need. In other words, we should deal honestly with them, and try our best to make them a self-supporting and a self-governing people. The eagle should spread its wings over those islands for that and for no other purpose. We can not afford to give them to other nations or to throw fragments of them to the wild beasts of Europe. We can not say to Russia, “You may have a part,” and to Germany, “You may have a share,” and to France, “You take something,” and so divide out these people as thieves divide plunder. That we will never do.

There is, moreover, in my mind, a little sentiment mixed with this matter. ManilaBay has been filled with American glory. There was won one of our greatest triumphs, one of the greatest naval victories of the world—won by American courage and genius. We can not allow any other nation to become the owner of the stage on which this American drama was played. I know that we can be of great assistance to the inhabitants of the Philippines. I know that we can be an unmixed blessing to them, and that is the only ambition I have in regard to those islands. I would no more think of handing them back to Spain than I would of butchering the entire population in cold blood. Spain is unfit to govern. Spain has always been a robber. She has never made an effort to civilize a human being. The history of Spain, I think, is the darkest page in the history of the world.

At the same time I have a kind of pity for the Spanish people. I feel that they have been victims—victims of superstition. Their blood has been sucked, their energies have been wasted and misdirected, and they excite my sympathies. Of course, there are many good Spaniards, good men, good women. Cervera appears to be a civilized man, a gentleman, and I feel obliged to him for his treatment of Hobson. The great mass of the Spaniards, however, must be exceedingly ignorant. Their so-called leaders dare not tell them the truth about the progress of this war. They seem to be afraid to state the facts. They always commence with a lie, then change it a little, then change it a little more, and may be at last tell the truth. They never seem to dare to tell the truth at first, if the truth is bad. They put me in mind of the story of a man telegraphing to a wife about the condition of her husband. The first dispatch was, “Your husband is well, never better.” The second was, “Your husband is sick, but not very.” The third was, “Your husband is much worse, but we still have hope.” The fourth was, “You may as well know the truth—we buried your husband yesterday.” That is about the way the Spanish people get their war news.

That is why it may be incorrect to assume that peace is coming quickly. If the Spaniards were a normal people, who acted as other folks do, we might prophesy a speedy peace, but nobody has prophetic vision enough to tell what such a people will do. In spite of all appearances, and all our successes, and of all sense, the war may drag on. But I hope not, not only for our own sake, but for the sake of the Spaniards themselves. I can’t help thinking of the poor peasants who will be killed, neither can I help thinking of the poor peasants who will have to toil for many years on the melancholy fields of Spain to pay the cost of this war. I am sorry for them, and I am sorry also for the widows and orphans, and no one will be more delighted when peace comes.

The argument has been advanced in the National Senate and elsewhere, that the Federal Constitution makes no provision for the holding of colonies or dependencies, such as the Philippines would be; that we can only acquire them as territories, and eventually must take them in as States, with their population of mixed and inferior races. That is hardly an effective argument.

When this country was an infant, still in its cradle, George Washington gave the child some very good advice; told him to beware of entangling alliances, to stay at home and attend to his own business. Under the circumstances this was all very good. But the infant has been growing, and the Republic is now one of the most powerful nations in the world, and yet, from its infant days until now, good, conservative people have been repeating the advice of Washington. It was repeated again and again when we were talking about purchasing Louisiana, and many Senators and Congressmen became hysterical and predicted the fall of the Republic if that was done. The same thing took place when we purchased Florida, and again when we got one million square miles from Mexico, and still again when we bought Alaska. These ideas about violating the Constitution and wrecking the Republic were promulgated by our great and wise statesmen on all these previous occasions, but, after all, the Constitution seems to have borne the strain. There seems to be as much liberty now as there was then, and, in fact, a great deal more. Our Territories have given us no trouble, while they have greatly added to our population and vastly increased our wealth.

Beside this, the statesmen of the olden time, the wise men with whom wisdom was supposed to have perished, could not and did not imagine the improvements that would take place after they were gone. In their time, practically speaking, it was farther from New York to Buffalo than it is now from New York to San Francisco, and so far as the transportation of intelligence is concerned, San Francisco is as near New York as it would have been in their day had it been just across the Harlem River. Taking into consideration the railways, the telegraphs and the telephones, this country now, with its area of three million five hundred thousand square miles, is not so large as the thirteen original colonies were; that is to say, the distances are more easily traveled and more easily overcome. In those days it required months and months to cross the continent. Now it is the work of four or five days.

Yet, when we came to talk about annexing the Hawaiian Islands, the advice of George Washington was again repeated, and the older the Senator the fonder he was of this advice. These Senators had the idea that the Constitution, having nothing in favor of it, must contain something, at least in spirit, against it. Of course, our fathers had no idea of the growth of the Republic. We have, because with us it is a matter of experience. I don’t see that Alaska has imperiled any of the liberties of New York. We need not admit Alaska as a State unless it has a population entitling it to admission, and we are not bound to take in the Sandwich Islands until the people are civilized, until they are fit companions of free men and free women. It may be that a good many of our citizens will go to the Sandwich Islands, and that, in a short time, the people there will be ready to be admitted as a State. All this the Constitution can stand, and in it there is no danger of imperialism.

I believe in national growth. As a rule, the prosperous farmer wants to buy the land that adjoins him, and I think a prosperous nation has the ambition of growth. It is better to expand than to shrivel; and, if our Constitution is too narrow to spread over the territory that we have the courage to acquire, why we can make a broader one. It is a very easy matter to make a constitution, and no human happiness, no prosperity, no progress should be sacrificed for the sake of a piece of paper with writing on it; because there is plenty of paper and plenty of men to do the writing, and plenty of people to say what the writing should be. I take more interest in people than I do in constitutions. I regard constitutions as secondary; they are means to an end, but the dear, old, conservative gentlemen seem to regard constitutions as ends in themselves.

I have read what ex-President Cleveland had to say on this important subject, and I am happy to say that I entirely disagree with him. So, too, I disagree with Senator Edmunds, and with Mr. Bryan, and with Senator Hoar, and with all the other gentlemen who wish to stop the growth of the Republic. I want it to grow.

As to the final destiny of the island possessions won from Spain, my idea is that the Philippine Islands will finally be free, protected, it may be for a long time, by the United States. I think Cuba will come to us for protection, naturally, and, so far as I am concerned, I want Cuba only when Cuba wants us. I think that Porto Rico and some of those islands will belong permanently to the United States, and I believe Cuba will finally become a part of our Republic.

When the opponents of progress found that they couldn’t make the American people take the back track by holding up their hands over the Constitution, they dragged in the Monroe doctrine. When we concluded not to allow Spain any longer to enslave her colonists, or the people who had been her colonists, in the New World, that was a very humane and wise resolve, and it was strictly in accord with the Monroe doctrine. For the purpose of conquering Spain, we attacked her fleet in ManilaBay, and destroyed it. I can not conceive how that action of ours can be twisted into a violation of the Monroe doctrine. The most that can be said is, that it is an extension of that doctrine, and that we are now saying to Spain, “You shall not enslave, you shall not rob, anywhere that we have the power to prevent it.”

Having taken the Philippines, the same humanity that dictated the declaration of what is called the Monroe doctrine, will force us to act there in accordance with the spirit of that doctrine. The other day I saw in the paper an extract, I think, from Goldwin Smith, in which he says that if we were to bombard Cadiz we would give up the Monroe doctrine. I do not see the application. We are at war with Spain, and we have a right to invade that country, and the invasion would have nothing whatever to do with the Monroe doctrine. War being declared, we have the right to do anything consistent with civilized warfare to gain the victory. The bombardment of Cadiz would have no more to do with the Monroe doctrine than with the attraction of gravitation. If, by the Monroe doctrine is meant that we have agreed to stay in this hemisphere, and to prevent other nations from interfering with any people on this hemisphere, and if it is said that, growing out of this, is another doctrine, namely, that we are pledged not to interfere with any people living on the other hemisphere, then it might be called a violation of the Monroe doctrine for us to bombard Cadiz. But such is not the Monroe doctrine. If, we being at war with England, she should bombard the city of New York, or we should bombard some city of England, would anybody say that either nation had violated the Monroe doctrine? I do not see how that doctrine is involved, whether we fight at sea or on the territory of the enemy.

This is the first war, so far as I know, in the history of the world that has been waged absolutely in the interest of humanity; the only war born of pity, of sympathy; and for that reason I have taken a deep interest in it, and I must say that I was greatly astonished by the victory of Admiral Dewey in Manila Bay. I think it one of the most wonderful in the history of the world, and I think all that Dewey has done shows clearly that he is a man of thought, of courage and of genius. So, too, the victory over the fleet of Cervera by Commodore Schley, is one of the most marvelous and the most brilliant in all the annals of the world. The marksmanship, the courage, the absolute precision with which everything was done, is to my mind astonishing. Neither should we forget Wainwright’s heroic exploit, as commander of the Gloucester, by which he demonstrated that torpedo destroyers have no terrors for a yacht manned by American pluck. ManilaBay and Santiago both are surpassingly wonderful. There are no words with which to describe such deeds—deeds that leap like flames above the clouds and glorify the whole heavens.

The Spanish have shown in this contest that they possess courage, and they have displayed what you might call the heroism of desperation, but the Anglo-Saxon has courage and coolness—courage not blinded by passion, courage that is the absolute servant of intelligence. The Anglo-Saxon has a fixedness of purpose that is never interfered with by feeling; he does not become enraged—he becomes firm, unyielding, his mind is absolutely made up, clasped, locked, and he carries out his will. With the Spaniard it is excitement, nervousness; he becomes frantic. I think this war has shown the superiority, not simply of our ships, or our armor, or our guns, but the superiority of our men, of our officers, of our gunners. The courage of our army about Santiago was splendid, the steadiness and bravery of the volunteers magnificent. I think that what has already been done has given us the admiration of the civilized world.

I know, of course, that some countries hate us. Germany is filled with malice, and has been just on the crumbling edge of meanness for months, wishing but not daring to interfere; hateful, hostile, but keeping just within the overt act. We could teach Germany a lesson and her ships would go down before ours just the same as the Spanish ships have done. Sometimes I have almost wished that a hostile German shot might be fired. But I think we will get even with Germany and with France—at least I hope so.

And there is another thing I hope—that the good feeling now existing between England and the United States may be eternal. In other words, I hope it will be to the interests of both to be friends. I think the English-speaking peoples are to rule this world. They are the kings of invention, of manufactures, of commerce, of administration, and they have a higher conception of human liberty than any other people. Of course, they are not entirely free; they still have some of the rags and tatters and ravelings of superstition; but they are tatters and they are rags and they are ravelings, and the people know it. And, besides all this, the English language holds the greatest literature of the world.


A NATION rises from infancy to manhood and sinks from dotage to death. I think that the great Republic is in the morning of her life—the sun just above the horizon—the grass still wet with dew.

Our country has the courage and enthusiasm of youth—her blood flows full—her heart beats strong and her brow is fair. We stand on the threshold of a great, a sublime career. All the conditions are favorable—the environment kind. The best part of this hemisphere is ours. We have a thousand million acres of fertile land, vast forests, whole States underlaid with coal; ranges of mountains filled with iron, silver and gold, and we have seventy-five millions of the most energetic, active, inventive, progressive and practical people in the world. The great Republic is a happy combination of mind and muscle, of head and heart, of courage and good nature. We are growing. We have the instinct of expansion. We are full of life and health. We are about to take our rightful place at the head of the nations. The great powers have been struggling to obtain markets. They are fighting for the trade of the East. They are contending for China. We watched, but we did not act. They paid no attention to us or we to them. Conditions have changed. We own the Hawaiian Islands. We will own the Philippines.

Japan and China will be our neighbors—our customers. Our interests must be protected. In China we want the “open door,” and we will see to it that the door is kept open. The nation that tries to shut it, will get its fingers pinched. We have taught the Old World that the Republic must be consulted. We have entered on the great highway, and we are destined to become the most powerful, the most successful and the most generous of nations. I am for expansion. The more people beneath the flag the better. Let the Republic grow..

I BELIEVE in growth. Of course there are many moss-back conservatives who fear expansion. Thousands opposed the purchase of Louisiana from Napoleon, thousands were against the acquisition of Florida and of the vast territory we obtained from Mexico. So, thousands were against the purchase of Alaska, and some dear old mummies opposed the annexation of the Sandwich Islands, and yet, I do not believe that there is an intelligent American who would like to part with one acre that has been acquired by the Government. Now, there are some timid, withered statesmen who do not want Porto Rico—who beg us in a trembling, patriotic voice not to keep the Philippines. But the sensible people feel exactly the other way. They love to see our borders extended. They love to see the flag floating over the islands of the tropics,—showering its blessings upon the poor people who have been robbed and tortured by the Spanish. Let the Republic grow! Let us spread the gospel of Freedom! In a few years I hope that Canada will be ours—I want Mexico—in other words, I want all of North America. I want to see our flag waving from the North Pole.

I think it was a mistake to appoint a peace commission. The President should have demanded the unconditional surrender of Cuba, Porto Rico and the Philippines. Spain was helpless. The war would have ended on our terms, and all this commission nonsense would have been saved. Still, I make no complaint. It will probably come out right, though it would have been far better to have ended the business when we could—when Spain was prostrate. It was foolish to let her get up and catch her breath and hunt for friends.

ONLY a few days ago our President, by proclamation, thanked God for giving us the victory at Santiago. He did not thank him for sending the yellow fever. To be consistent the President should have thanked him equally for both. Man should think; he should use all his senses; he should examine; he should reason. The man who cannot think is less than man; the man who will not think is a traitor to himself; the man who fears to think is superstition’s slave. I do not thank God for the splendid victory in ManilaBay. I don’t know whether he had anything to do with it; if I find out that he did I will thank him readily. Meanwhile, I will thank Admiral George Dewey and the brave fellows who were with him.

I do not thank God for the destruction of Cervera’s fleet at Santiago. No, I thank Schley and the men with the trained eyes and the nerves of steel, who stood behind the guns. I do not thank God because we won the battle of Santiago. I thank the Regular Army, black and white—the Volunteers—the Rough Riders, and all the men who made the grand charge at San Juan Hill. I have asked, “Why should God help us to whip Spain?” and have been answered: “For the sake of the Cubans, who have been crushed and ill-treated by their Spanish masters.” Then why did not God help the Cubans long before? Certainly, they were fighting long enough and needed his help badly enough. But, I am told, God’s ways are inscrutable. Suppose Spain had whipped us; would the Christians then say that God did it? Very likely they would, and would have as an excuse, that we broke the Sabbath with our base-ball, our bicycles and bloomers.



HOW far should a husband or wife go in defending the sanctity of home?

Is it right for the husband to kill the paramour of his wife?

Is it right for the wife to kill the paramour of her husband?

These three questions are in substance one, and one answer will be sufficient for all.

In the first place, we should have an understanding of the real relation that exists, or should exist, between husband and wife.

The real good orthodox people, those who admire St. Paul, look upon the wife as the property of the husband. He owns, not only her body, but her very soul. This being the case, no other man has the right to steal or try to steal this property. The owner has the right to defend his possession, even to the death. In the olden time the husband was never regarded as the property of the wife. She had a claim on him for support, and there was usually some way to enforce the claim. If the husband deserted the wife for the sake of some other woman, or transferred his affections to another, the wife, as a rule, suffered in silence. Sometimes she took her revenge on the woman, but generally she did nothing. Men killed the “destroyers” of their homes, but the women, having no homes, being only wives, nothing but mothers—bearers of babes for masters—allowed their destroyers to live.

In recent years women have advanced. They have stepped to the front. Wives are no longer slaves. They are the equals of husbands. They have homes to defend, husbands to protect and “destroyers” to kill. The rights of husbands and wives are now equal. They live under the same moral code. Their obligations to each other are mutual. Both are bound, and equally bound, to live virtuous lives.

Now, if A falls in love with the wife of B, and she returns his love, has B the right to kill him? Or if A falls in love with the husband of B, and he returns her love, has B the right to kill her?

If the wronged husband has the right to kill, so has the wronged wife.

Suppose that a young man and woman are engaged to be married, and that she falls in love with another and marries him, has the first lover a right to kill the last?

This leads me to another question: What is marriage? Men and women cannot truly be married by any set or form of words, or by any ceremonies however solemn, or by contract signed, sealed and witnessed, or by the words or declarations of priests or judges. All these put together do not constitute marriage. At the very best they are only evidences of the fact of marriage—something that really happened between the parties. Without pure, honest, mutual love there can be no real marriage. Marriage without love is only a form of prostitution. Marriage for the sake of position or wealth is immoral. No good, sensible man wants to marry a woman whose heart is not absolutely his, and no good, sensible woman wants to marry a man whose heart is not absolutely hers. Now, if there can be no real marriage without mutual love, does the marriage outlast the love? If it is immoral for a woman to marry a man without loving him, is it moral for her to live as the wife of a man whom she has ceased to love? Is she bound by the words, by the ceremony, after the real marriage is dead? Is she so bound that the man she hates has the right to be the father of her babes?

If a girl is engaged and afterward meets her ideal, a young man whose presence is joy, whose touch is ecstasy, is it her duty to fulfill her engagement? Would it not be a thousand times nobler and purer for her to say to the first lover: “I thought I loved you; I was mistaken. I belong heart and soul to another, and if I married you I could not be yours.”

So, if a young man is engaged and finds that he has made a mistake, is it honorable for him to keep his contract? Would it not be far nobler for him to tell her the truth?

The civilized man loves a woman not only for his own sake, but for her sake. He longs to make her happy—to fill her life with joy. He is willing to make sacrifices for her, but he does not want her to sacrifice herself for him. The civilized husband wants his wife to be free—wants the love that she cannot help giving him. He does not want her, from a sense of duty, or because of the contract or ceremony, to act as though she loved him, when in fact her heart is far away. He does not want her to pollute her soul and live a lie for his sake. The civilized husband places the happiness of his wife above his own. Her love is the wealth of his heart, and to guard her from evil is the business of his life.

But the civilized husband knows when his wife ceases to love him that the real marriage has also ceased. He knows that it is then infamous for him to compel her to remain his wife. He knows that it is her right to be free—that her body belongs to her, that her soul is her own. He knows, too, if he knows anything, that her affection is not the slave of her will.

In a case like this, the civilized husband would, so far as he had the power, release his wife from the contract of marriage, divide his property fairly with her and do what he could for her welfare. Civilized love never turns to hatred.

Suppose he should find that there was a man in the case, that another had won her love, or that she had given her love to another, would it then be his right or duty to kill that man? Would the killing do any good? Would it bring back her love? Would it reunite the family? Would it annihilate the disgrace or the memory of the shame? Would it lessen the husband’s loss?

Society says that the husband should kill the man because he led the woman astray.

How do we know that he betrayed the woman? Mrs. Potiphar left many daughters, and Joseph certainly had but few sons. How do we know that it was not the husband’s fault? She may for years have shivered in the winter of his neglect. She may have borne his cruelties of word and deed until her love w’as dead and buried side by side with hope. Another man comes into her life. He pities her. She looks and loves. He lifts her from the grave. Again she really lives, and her poor heart is rich with love’s red blood. Ought this man to be killed? He has robbed no husband, wronged no man. He has rescued a victim, released an innocent prisoner and made a life worth living. But the brutal husband says that the wife has been led astray; that he has been wronged and dishonored, and that it is his right, his duty, to shed the seducer’s blood. He finds the facts himself. He is witness, jury, judge and executioner. He forgets his neglect, his cruelties, his faithlessness; forgets that he drove her from his heart, remembers only that she loves another, and then in the name of justice he takes the life of the one she loves.

A husband deserts his wife, leaves her without money, without the means to live, with his babes in her arms. She cannot get a divorce; she must wait, and in the meantime she must live. A man falls in love with her and she with him. He takes care of her and the deserted children. The “wronged” husband returns and kills the “betrayer” of his wife. He believes in the sacredness of marriage, the holiness of home.

It may be admitted that the deserted wife did wrong, and that the man who cared for her and her worse than fatherless children also did wrong, but certainly he had done nothing for which he deserved to be murdered.

A woman finds that her husband is in love with another woman, that he is false, and the question is whether it is her right to kill the other woman. The wronged husband has always claimed that the man led his wife astray, that he had crept and crawled into his Eden, but now the wronged wife claims that the woman seduced her husband, that she spread the net, wove the web and baited the trap in which the innocent husband was caught. Thereupon she kills the other woman.

In the first place, how can she be sure of the facts? How does she know whose fault it was? Possibly she was to blame herself.

But what good has the killing done? It will not give her back her husband’s love. It will not cool the fervor of her jealousy. It will not give her better sleep or happier dreams.

It would have been far better if she had said to her husband: “Go with the woman you love. I do not want your body without your heart, your presence without your love.”

So, it would be better for the wronged husband to say to the unfaithful wife: “Go with the man you love. Your heart is his, I am not your master. You are free.”

After all, murder is a poor remedy. If you kill a man for one wrong, why not for another? If you take the law into your own hands and kill a man because he loves your wife and your wife loves him, why not kill him for any injury he may inflict on you or yours?…

In a civilized nation the people are governed by law. They do not redress their own wrongs. They submit their differences to courts. If they are wronged they appeal to the law. Savages redress what they call their wrongs. They appeal to knife or gun. They kill, they assassinate, they murder; and they do this to preserve their honor. Admit that the seducer of the wife deserves death, that the woman who leads the husband astray deserves death, admit that both have justly forfeited their lives, the question yet remains whether the wronged husband and the wronged wife have the right to commit murder.

If they have this right, then there ought to be some way provided for ascertaining the facts. Before the husband kills the “betrayer,” the fact that the wife was really led astray should be established, and the “wronged” husband who claims the right to kill, should show that he had been a good, loving and true husband.

As a rule, the wives of good and generous men are true and faithful. They love their homes, they adore their children. In poverty and disaster they cling the closer. But when husbands are indolent and mean, when they are cruel and selfish, when they make a hell of home, why should we insist that their wives should love them still?

When the civilized man finds that his wife loves another he does not kill, he does not murder. He says to his wife, “You are free.”

When the civilized woman finds that her husband loves another she does not kill, she does not murder. She says to her husband, “I am free.” This, in my judgment, is the better way. It is in accordance with a far higher philosophy of life, of the real rights of others. The civilized man is governed by his reason, his intelligence; the savage by his passions. The civilized, man seeks for the right, regardless of himself; the savage for revenge, regardless of the rights of others.

I do not believe that murder guards the sacredness of home, the purity of the fireside. I do not believe that crime wins victories for virtue. I believe in liberty and I believe in law. That country is free where the people make and honestly uphold the law. I am opposed to a redress of grievances or the punishment of criminals by mobs and I am equally opposed to giving the “wronged” husbands and the “wronged” wives the right to kill the men and women they suspect. In other words, I believe in civilization.

A few years ago a merchant living in the West suspected that his wife and bookkeeper were in love. One morning he started for a distant city, pretending that he would be absent for a couple of weeks. He came back that night and found the lovers occupying the same room. He did not kill the man, but said to him: “Take her; she is yours. Treat her well and you will not be troubled. Abuse or desert her and I will be her avenger.”

He did not kill his wife, but said: “We part forever. You are entitled to one-half of the property we have accumulated. You shall have it. Farewell!”

The merchant was a civilized man—a philosopher.


To the study of the Bible he has given the best years of his life. When he commenced this study he was probably a devout believer in the plenary inspiration of the Scripture—thought that the Bible was without an error; that all the so-called contradictions could be easily explained. He had been educated by Presbyterians and had confidence in his teachers.

In spite of his early training, in spite of his prejudices, he was led, in some mysterious way, to rely a little on his own reason. This was a dangerous thing to do. The moment a man talks about reason he is on dangerous ground. He is liable to contradict the “Word of God.” Then he loses spirituality and begins to think more of truth than creed. This is a step toward heresy—toward Infidelity.

Professor Briggs began to have doubts about some of the miracles. These doubts, like rats, began to gnaw the foundations of his faith. He examined these wonderful stories in the light of what is known to have happened, and in the light of like miracles found in the other sacred books of the world. And he concluded that they were not quite true. He was not ready to say that they were actually false; that would be too brutally candid.

I once read of an English lord who had a very polite gamekeeper. The lord wishing to show his skill with the rifle fired at a target. He and the gamekeeper went to see where the bullet had struck. The gamekeeper was first at the target, and the lord cried out: “Did I miss it?”

“I would not,” said the gamekeeper, “go so far as to say that your lordship missed it, but—but—you didn’t hit it.”

Professor Briggs saw clearly that the Bible was the product, the growth of many centuries; that legends and facts, mistakes, contradictions, miracles, myths and history, interpolations, prophecies and dreams, wisdom, foolishness, justice, cruelty, poetry and bathos were mixed, mingled and interwoven. In other words, that the gold of truth was surrounded by meaner metals and worthless stones.

He saw that it was necessary to construct what might be called a sacred smelter to divide the true from the false.

Undoubtedly he reached this conclusion in the interest of what he believed to be the truth. He had the mistaken but honest idea that a Christian should really think. Of course, we know that all heresy has been the result of thought. It has always been dangerous to grow. Shrinking is safe.

Studying the Bible was the first mistake that Professor Briggs made, reasoning was the second, and publishing his conclusions was the third. If he had read without studying, if he had believed without reasoning, he would have remained a good, orthodox Presbyterian. He probably read the works of Humboldt, Darwin and Haeckel, and found that the author of Genesis was not a geologist, not a scientist. He seems to have his doubts about the truth of the story of the deluge. Should he be blamed for this? Is there a sensible man in the wide world who really believes in the flood?

This flood business puts Jehovah in such an idiotic light.

Of course, he must have known, after the “fall” of Adam and Eve, that he would have to drown their descendants. Certainly it would have been more merciful to have killed Adam and Eve, made a new pair and kept the serpent out of the Garden of Eden. If Jehovah had been an intelligent God he never would have created the serpent. Then there would have been no fall, no flood, no atonement, no hell.

Think of a God who drowned a world! What a merciless monster! The cruelty of the flood is exceeded only by its stupidity.

Thousands of little theologians have tried to explain this miracle. This is the very top of absurdity. To explain a miracle is to destroy it. Some have said that the flood was local. How could water that rose over the mountains remain local?

Why should we expect mercy from a God who drowned millions of men, women and babes? I would no more think of softening the heart of such a God by prayer than of protecting myself from a hungry tiger by repeating poetry.

Professor Briggs has sense enough to see that the story of the flood is but an ignorant legend. He is trying to rescue Jehovah from the frightful slander. After all, why should we believe the unreasonable? Must we be foolish to be virtuous? The rain fell for forty days; this caused the flood. The water was at least thirty thousand feet in depth. Seven hundred and fifty feet a day—more than thirty feet an hour, six inches a minute; the rain fell for forty days. Does any man with sense enough to eat and breathe believe this idiotic lie?

Professor Briggs knows that the Jews got the story of the flood from the Babylonians, and that it is no more inspired than the history of “Peter Wilkins and His Flying Wife.” The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is another legend.

If those cities were destroyed sensible people believe the phenomenon was as natural as the destruction of Herculaneum and Pompeii. They do not believe that in either case it was the result of the wickedness of the people.

Neither does any thinking man believe that the wife of Lot was changed or turned into a pillar of salt as a punishment for having looked back at her burning home. How could flesh, bones and blood be changed to salt? This presupposes two miracles. First, the annihilation of the woman, and second, the creation of salt. A God cannot annihilate or create matter. Annihilation and creation are both impossible—unthinkable. A grain of sand can defy all the gods. What was Mrs. Lot turned to salt for? What good was achieved? What useful lesson taught? What man with a head fertile enough to raise one hair can believe a story like this?

Does a man who denies the truth of this childish absurdity weaken the foundation of virtue? Does he discourage truth-telling by denouncing lies? Should a man be true to himself? If reason is not the standard, what is? Can a man think one way and believe another? Of course he can talk one way and think another. If a man should be honest with himself he should be honest with others. A man who conceals his doubts lives a dishonest life. He defiles his own soul.

When a truth-loving man reads about the plagues of Egypt, should he reason as he reads? Should he take into consideration the fact that like stories have been told and believed by savages for thousands of years? Should he ask himself whether Jehovah in his efforts to induce the Egyptian King to free the Hebrews acted like a sensible God? Should he ask himself whether a good God would kill the babes of the people on account of the sins of the king? Whether he would torture, mangle and kill innocent cattle to get even with a monarch?

Is it better to believe without thinking than to think without believing? If there be a God can we please him by believing that he acted like a fiend?

Probably Professor Briggs has a higher conception of God than the author of Exodus. The writer of that book was a barbarian—an honest barbarian, and he wrote what he supposed was the truth. I do not blame him for having written falsehoods. Neither do I blame Professor Briggs for having detected these falsehoods. In our day no man capable of reasoning believes the miracles wrought for the Hebrews in their flight through the wilderness. The opening of the sea, the cloud and pillar, the quails, the manna, the serpents and hornets are no more believed than the miracles of the Mormons when they crossed the plains.

The probability is that the Hebrews never were in Egypt. In the Hebrew language there are no Egyptian words, and in the Egyptian no Hebrew. This proves that the Hebrews could not have mingled with the Egyptians for four hundred and thirty years. As a matter of fact, Moses is a myth. The enslavement of the Hebrews, the flight, the journey through the wilderness existed only in the imagination of ignorance.

So Professor Briggs has his doubts about the sun and moon having been stopped for a day in order that Gen. Joshua might kill more heathen. Theologians have gathered around this miracle like moths around a flame. They have done their best to make it reasonable. They have talked about refraction and reflection, about the nature of the air having been changed so that the sun was visible all night. They have even gone so far as to say that Joshua and his soldiers killed so many that afterward, when thinking about it, they concluded that it must have taken them at least two days.

This miracle can be accounted for only in one way. Jehovah must have stopped the earth. The earth, turning over at about one thousand miles an hour—weighing trillions of tons—had to be stopped. Now we know that all arrested motion changes instantly to heat. It has been calculated that to stop the earth would cause as much heat as could be produced by burning three lumps of coal, each lump as large as this world.

Now, is it possible that a God in his right mind would waste all that force? The Bible also tells us that at the same time God cast hailstones from heaven on the poor heathen. If the writer had known something of astronomy he would have had more hailstones and said nothing about the sun and moon.

Is it wise for ministers to ask their congregations to believe this story? Is it wise for congregations to ask their ministers to believe this story? If Jehovah performed this miracle he must have been insane. There should be some relation, some proportion, between means and ends. No sane general would call into the field a million soldiers and a hundred batteries to kill one insect. And yet the disproportion of means to the end sought would be reasonable when compared with what Jehovah is claimed to have done.

If Jehovah existed let us admit that he had some sense.

If it should be demonstrated that the book of Joshua is all false, what harm could follow? There would remain the same reasons for living a useful and virtuous life; the same reasons against theft and murder. Virtue would lose no prop and vice would gain no crutch. Take all the miracles from the Old Testament and the book would be improved. Throw away all its cruelties and absurdities and its influence would be far better.

Professor Briggs seems to have doubts about the inspiration of Ruth. Is there any harm in that? What difference does it make whether the story of Ruth is fact or fiction; history or poetry? Its value is just the same. Who cares whether Hamlet or Lear lived? Who cares whether Imogen and Perdita were real women or the creation of Shakespeare’s imagination?

The book of Esther is absurd and cruel. It has no ethical value. There is not a line, a word in it calculated to make a human being better. The king issued a decree to kill the Jews. Esther succeeded in getting this decree set aside, and induced the king to issue another decree that the Jews should kill the other folks, and so the Jews killed some seventy-five thousand of the king’s subjects. Is it really important to believe that the book of Esther is inspired? Is it possible that Jehovah is proud of having written this book? Does he guard his copyright with the fires of hell? Why should the facts be kept from the people? Every intelligent minister knows that Moses did not write the Pentateuch; that David did not write the Psalms, and that Solomon was not the author of the song or the book of Ecclesiastes. Why not say so?

No intelligent minister believes the story of Daniel in the Lion’s den, or of the three men who were cast into the furnace, or the story of Jonah. These miracles seem to have done no good—seem to have convinced nobody and to have had no consequences. Daniel w’as miraculously saved from the lions, and then the king sent for the men who had accused Daniel, for their wives and their children, and threw them all into the den of lions and they were devoured by beasts almost as cruel as Jehovah. What a beautiful story! How can any man be wicked enough to doubt its truth?

God told Jonah to go to Nineveh. Jonah ran away, took a boat for another place. God raised a storm, the sailors became frightened, threw Jonah overboard, and the poor wretch was swallowed and carried ashore by a fish that God had prepared. Then he made his proclamation in Nineveh. Then the people repented and Jonah was disappointed. Then he became malicious and found fault with God. Then comes the story of the gourd, the worm and the east wind, and the effect of the sun on a bald-headed prophet. Would not this story be just as beautiful with the storm and fish left out? Could we not dispense with the gourd, the worm and the east wind?

Professor Briggs does not believe this story. He does not reject it because he is wicked or because he wishes to destroy religion, but because, in his judgment, it is not true. This may not be religious, but it is honest. It may not become a minister, but it certainly becomes a man.

Professor Briggs wishes to free the Old Testament from interpolations, from excrescences, from fungus growths, from mistakes and falsehoods.

I am satisfied that he is sincere, actuated by the noblest motives.

Suppose that all the interpolations in the Bible should be found and the original be perfectly restored, what evidence would we have that it was written by inspired men? How can the fact of inspiration be established? When was it established? Did Jehovah furnish anybody with a list of books he had inspired? Does anybody know that he ever said that he had inspired anybody? Did the writer of Genesis claim that he was inspired? Did any writer of any part of the Pentateuch make the claim? Did the authors of Joshua, Judges, Kings or Chronicles pretend that they had obtained their facts from Jehovah? Does the author of Job or of the Psalms pretend to have received assistance from God?

There is not the slightest reference to God in Esther or in Solomon’s Song. Why should theologians say that those books were inspired? The dogma of inspiration rests on no established fact. It rests only on assertion—the assertion of those who have no knowledge on the subject. Professor Briggs calls the Bible a “holy” book. He seems to think that much of it was inspired; that it is in some sense a message from God. The reasons he has for thinking so I cannot even guess. He seems also to have his doubts about certain parts of the New Testament. He is not certain that the angel who appeared to Joseph in a dream was entirely truthful, or he is not certain that Joseph had the dream.

It seems clear that when the gospel according to Matthew was first written the writer believed that Christ was a lineal descendant of David, through his father, Joseph. The genealogy is given for the purpose of showing that the blood of David flowed in the veins of Christ. The man who wrote that genealogy had never heard that the Holy Ghost was the father of Christ. That was an afterthought.

How is it possible to prove that the Holy Ghost was the father of Christ? The Holy Ghost said nothing on the subject. Mary wrote nothing and we have no evidence that Joseph had a dream.

The divinity of Christ rests upon a dream that somebody said Joseph had.

According to the New Testament, Mary herself called Joseph the father of Christ. She told Christ that Joseph, his father, had been looking for him. Her statement is better evidence than Joseph’s dream—if he really had it. If there are legends in Holy Scripture, as Professor Briggs declares, certainly the divine parentage of Christ is one of them. The story lacks even originality. Among the Greeks many persons had gods for fathers. Among Hindoos and Egyptians these god-men were common. So in many other countries the blood of gods was in the veins of men. Such wonders, told in Sanscrit, are just as reasonable as when told in Hebrew—just as reasonable in India as in Palestine. Of course, there is no evidence that any human being had a god for a father, or a goddess for a mother. Intelligent people have outgrown these myths. Centaurs, satyrs, nymphs and god-men have faded away. Science murdered them all.

There are many contradictions in the gospels. They differ not only on questions of fact, but as to Christianity itself. According to Matthew, Mark and Luke, if you will forgive others God will forgive you. This is the one condition of salvation. But in John we find an entirely different religion. According to John you must be born again and believe in Jesus Christ. There you find for the first time about the atonement—that Christ died to save sinners. The gospel of John discloses a regular theological system—a new one. To forgive others is not enough. You must have faith. You must be born again.

The four gospels cannot be harmonized. If John is true the others are false. If the others are true John is false. From this there is no escape. I do not for a moment suppose that Professor Briggs agrees with me on these questions. He probably regards me as a very bad and wicked man, and my opinions as blasphemies. I find no fault with him for that. I believe him to be an honest man; right in some things and wrong in many. He seems to be true to his thought and I honor him for that.

He would like to get all the stumbling-blocks out of the Bible, so that a really thoughtful man can “believe.” If theologians cling to the miracles recorded in the New Testament the entire book will be disparaged and denied. The “Gospel ship” is overloaded. Somethings must be thrown overboard or the boat will go down. If the churches try to save all they will lose all.

They must throw the miracles away. They must admit that Christ did not cast devils out of the bodies of men and women—that he did not cure diseases with a word, or blindness with spittle and clay; that he had no power over winds and waves; that he did not raise the dead; that he was not raised from the dead himself, and that he did not ascend bodily to heaven. These absurdities must be given up, or in a little while the orthodox ministers will be preaching the “tidings of great joy” to benches, bonnets and bibs.

Professor Briggs, as I understand him, is willing to give up the absurdest absurdities, but wishes to keep all the miracles that can possibly be believed. He is anxious to preserve the important miracles—the great central falsehoods—but the little lies that were told just to embellish the story—to furnish vines for the columns—he is willing to cast aside.

But Professor Briggs was honest enough to say that we do not know the authors of most of the books in the Bible; that we do not know who wrote the Psalms or Job or Proverbs or the Song of Songs or Ecclesiastes or the Epistle to the Hebrews. He also said that no translation can ever take the place of the original Scriptures, because a translation is at best the work of men. In other words, that God has not revealed to us the names of the inspired books. That this must be determined by us. Professor Briggs puts reason above revelation. By reason we are to decide what books are inspired. By reason we are to decide whether anything has been improperly added to those books. By reason we are to decide the real meaning of those books.

It therefore follows that if the books are unreasonable they are uninspired. It seems to me that this position is absolutely correct. There is no other that can be defended. The Presbyterians who pretend to answer Professor Briggs seem to be actuated by hatred.

Dr. Da Costa answers with vituperation and epithet. He answers no argument; brings forward no fact; points out no mistake. He simply attacks the man. He exhibits the ordinary malice of those who love their enemies.

President Patton, of Princeton, is a despiser of reason; a hater of thought. Progress is the only thing that he fears. He knows that the Bible is absolutely true. He knows that every word is inspired. According to him, all questions have been settled, and criticism said its last word when the King James Bible was printed. The Presbyterian Church is infallible, and whoever doubts or denies will be damned. Morality is worthless without the creed. This, is the religion, the philosophy, of Dr. Patton. He fights with the ancient weapons, with stone and club. He is a private in Captain Calvin’s company, and he marches to defeat with the courage of invincible ignorance.

I do not blame the Presbyterian Church for closing the mouth of Professor Briggs. That church believes the Bible—all of it—and the members did not feel like paying a man for showing that it was not all inspired. Long ago the Presbyterians stopped growing. They have been petrified for many years. Professor Briggs had been growing. He had to leave the church or shrink. He left. Then he joined the Episcopal Church. He probably supposed that that church preferred the living to the dead. He knew about Colenso, Stanley, Temple, Heber Newton, Dr. Rainsford and Farrar, and thought that the finger and thumb of authority would not insist on plucking from the mind the buds of thought.

Whether he was mistaken or not remains to be seen.

The Episcopal Church may refuse to ordain him, and by such refusal put the bigot brand upon its brow.

The refusal cannot injure Professor Briggs. It will leave him where it found him—with too much science for a churchman and too much superstition for a scientist; with his feet in the gutter and his head in the clouds.

I admire every man who is true to himself, to his highest ideal, and who preserves unstained the veracity of his soul.

I believe in growth. I prefer the living to the dead. Men are superior to mummies. Cradles are more beautiful than coffins. Development is grander than decay. I do not agree with Professor Briggs. I do not believe in inspired books, or in the Holy Ghost, or that any God has ever appeared to man. I deny the existence of the supernatural. I know of no religion that is founded on facts.

But I cheerfully admit that Professor Briggs appears to be candid, good tempered and conscientious—the opposite of those who attack him. He is not a Freethinker, but he honestly thinks that he is free.



     * A letter written to Col. Thomas Donaldson, of Philadelphia,

declining an invitation to be a guest of the Clover Club of

that city.


I regret that I cannot be “in clover” with you on the 28th instant.

A wonderful thing is clover! It means honey and cream,—that is to say, industry and contentment,—that is to say, the happy bees in perfumed fields, and at the cottage gate “bos” the bountiful serenely chewing satisfaction’s cud, in that blessed twilight pause that like a benediction falls between all toil and sleep.

This clover makes me dream of happy hours; of childhood’s rosy cheeks; of dimpled babes; of wholesome, loving wives; of honest men; of springs and brooks and violets and all there is of stainless joy in peaceful human life.

A wonderful word is “clover”! Drop the “c,” and you have the happiest of mankind. Drop the “r,” and “c,” and you have left the only thing that makes a heaven of this dull and barren earth. Drop the “r,” and there remains a warm, deceitful bud that sweetens breath and keeps the peace in countless homes whose masters frequent clubs. After all, Bottom was right:

“Good hay, sweet hay, hath no fellow.”

Yours sincerely and regretfully,


Washington, D. C., January 16, 1883.

SUPERSTITION puts belief above goodness—credulity above virtue.

Here are two men. One is industrious, frugal, honest, generous. He has a happy home—loves his wife and children—fills their lives with sunshine. He enjoys study, thoughts, music, and all the subtleties of Art—but he does not believe the creed—cares nothing for sacred books, worships no god and fears no devil.

The other is ignorant, coarse, brutal, beats his wife and children—but he believes—regards the Bible as inspired—bows to the priests, counts his beads, says his prayers, confesses and contributes, and the Catholic Church declares and the Protestant Churches declare that he is the better man.

The ignorant believer, coarse and brutal as he is, is going to heaven. He will be washed in the blood of the Lamb. He will have wings—a harp and a halo.

The intelligent and generous man who loves his fellow-men—who develops his brain, who enjoys the beautiful, is going to hell—to the eternal prison.

Such is the justice of God—the mercy of Christ.

WHILE reading the accounts of the coronation of the Czar, of the pageants, processions and feasts, of the pomp and parade, of the barbaric splendor, of cloth of gold and glittering gems, I could not help thinking of the poor and melancholy peasants, of the toiling, half-fed millions, of the sad and ignorant multitudes who belong body and soul to this Czar.

I thought of the backs that have been scarred by the knout, of the thousands in prisons for having dared to say a whispered word for freedom, of the great multitude who had been driven like cattle along the weary roads that lead to the hell of Siberia.

The cannon at Moscow were not loud enough, nor the clang of the bells, nor the blare of the trumpets, to drown the groans of the captives.

I thought of the fathers that had been torn from wives and children for the crime of speaking like men.

And when the priests spoke of the Czar as the “God-selected man,” the “God-adorned man,” my blood grew warm.

When I read of the coronation of the Czarina I thought of Siberia. I thought of girls working in the mines, hauling ore from the pits with chains about their waists; young girls, almost naked, at the mercy of brutal officials; young girls weeping and moaning their lives away because between their pure lips the word Liberty had burst into blossom.

Yet law neglects, forgets them, and crowns the Czarina. The injustice, the agony and horror in this poor world are enough to make mankind insane.

Ignorance and superstition crown impudence and tyranny. Millions of money squandered for the humiliation of man, to dishonor the people.

Back of the coronation, back of all the ceremonies, back of all the hypocrisy there is nothing but a lie.

It is not true that God “selected” this Czar to rule and rob a hundred millions of human beings.

It is all an ignorant, barbaric, superstitious lie—a lie that pomp and pageant, and flaunting flags, and robed priests, and swinging censers, cannot change to truth.

Those who are not blinded by the glare and glitter at Moscow see millions of homes on which the shadows fall; see millions of weeping mothers, whose children have been stolen by the Czar; see thousands of villages without schools, millions of houses without books, millions and millions of men, women and children in whose future there is no star and whose only friend is death.

The coronation is an insult to the nineteenth century.

Long live the people of Russia!

MUSIC.—The savage enjoys noises—explosion—the imitation of thunder. This noise expresses his feeling. He enjoys concussion. His ear and brain are in harmony. So, he takes cognizance of but few colors. The neutral tints make no impression on his eyes. He appreciates the flames of red and yellow. That is to say, there is a harmony between his brain and eye. As he advances, develops, progresses, his ear catches other sounds, his eye other colors. He becomes a complex being, and there has entered into his mind the idea of proportion. The music of the drum no longer satisfies him. He sees that there is as much difference between noises and melodies as between stones and statues. The strings in Corti’s Harp become sensitive and possibly new ones are developed.

The eye keeps pace with the ear, and the worlds of sound and sight increase from age to age.

The first idea of music is the keeping of time—a recurring emphasis at intervals of equal length or duration. This is afterward modified—the music of joy being fast, the emphasis at short intervals, and that of sorrow slow.

After all, this music of time corresponds to the action of the blood and muscles. There is a rise and fall under excitement of both. In joy the heart beats fast, and the music corresponding to such emotion is quick. In grief—in sadness, the blood is delayed. In music the broad division is one of time. In language, words of joy are born of light—that which shines—words of grief of darkness and gloom. There is still another division: The language of happiness comes also from heat, and that of sadness from cold.

These ideas or divisions are universal. In all art are the light and shadow—the heat and cold.

OF COURSE ENGLAND has no love for America. By England I mean the governing class. Why should monarchy be in love with republicanism, with democracy? The monarch insists that he gets his right to rule from what he is pleased to call the will of God, whereas in a republic the sovereign authority is the will of the people. It is impossible that there should be any real friendship between the two forms of government.

We must, however, remember one thing, and that is, that there is an England within England—an England that does not belong to the titled classes—an England that has not been bribed or demoralized by those in authority; and that England has always been our friend, because that England is the friend of liberty and of progress everywhere. But the lackeys, the snobs, the flatterers of the titled, those who are willing to crawl that they may rise, are now and always have been the enemies of the great Republic.

It is a curious fact that in monarchical governments the highest and lowest are generally friends. There may be a foundation for this friendship in the fact that both are parasites—both live on the labor of honest men. After all, there is a kinship between the prince and the pauper. Both extend the hand for alms, and the fact that one is jeweled and the other extremely dirty makes no difference in principle—and the owners of these hands have always been fast friends, and, in accordance with the great law of ingratitude, both have held in contempt the people who supported them.

One thing we must not forget, and that is that the best people of England are our friends. The best writers, the best thinkers are on our side. It is only natural that all who visit America should find some fault. We find fault ourselves, and to be thin-skinned is almost a plea of guilty. For my part, I have no doubt about the future of America. It not only is, but is to be for many, many generations, the greatest nation of the world.

I DO not care so much where, as with whom, I live. If the right folks are with me I can manage to get a good deal of happiness in the city or in the country. Cats love places and become attached to chimney-corners and all sorts of nooks—but I have but little of the cat in me, and am not particularly in love with places. After all, a palace without affection is a poor hovel, and the meanest hut with love in it is a palace for the soul.

If the time comes when poverty and want cease for the most part to exist, then the city will be far better than the country. People are always talking about the beauties of nature and the delights of solitude, but to me some people are more interesting than rocks and trees. As to city and country life I think that I substantially agree with Touchstone:

“In respect that it is solitary I like it very well; but in respect that it is private it is a very vile life. Now, in respect it is in the fields it pleaseth me well; but in respect it is not in the court it is tedious.”

WHAT do I think of the lynchings in Georgia?

I suppose these outrages—these frightful crimes—make the same impression on my mind that they do on the minds of all civilized people. I know of no words strong enough, bitter enough, to express my indignation and horror. Men who belong to the “superior” race take a negro—a criminal, a supposed murderer, one alleged to have assaulted a white woman—chain him to a tree, saturate his clothing with kerosene, pile fagots about his feet. This is the preparation for the festival. The people flock in from the neighborhood—come in special trains from the towns. They are going to enjoy themselves.

Laughing and cursing they gather about the victim. A man steps from the crowd—a man who hates crime and loves virtue. He draws his knife, and in a spirit of merry sport cuts off one of the victim’s ears. This he keeps for a trophy—a souvenir. Another gentlemen fond of a jest cuts off the other ear. Another cuts off the nose of the chained and helpless wretch. The victim suffered in silence. He uttered no groan, no word—the one man of the two thousand who had courage.

Other white heroes cut and slashed his flesh. The crowd cheered. The people were intoxicated with joy. Then the fagots were lighted and the bleeding and mutilated man was clothed in flame.

The people were wild with hideous delight. With greedy eyes they watched him burn; with hungry ears they listened for his shrieks—for the music of his moans and cries. He did not shriek. The festival was not quite perfect.

But they had their revenge. They trampled on the charred and burning corpse. They divided among themselves the broken bones. They wanted mementos—keepsakes that they could give to their loving wives and gentle babes.

These horrors were perpetrated in the name of justice. The savages who did these things belong to the superior race. They are citizens of the great Republic. And yet, it does not seem possible that such fiends are human beings. They are a disgrace to our country, our century and the human race.

Ex-Governor Atkinson protested against this savagery. He was threatened with death. The good people were helpless. While these lynchers murder the blacks they will destroy their own country. No civilized man wishes to live where the mob is supreme. He does not wish to be governed by murderers.

Let me say that what I have said is flattery compared with what I feel. When I think of the other lynching—of the poor man mutilated and hanged without the slightest evidence, of the negro who said that these murders would be avenged, and who was brutally murdered for the utterance of a natural feeling—I am utterly at a loss for words.

Are the white people insane? Has mercy fled to beasts? Has the United States no power to protect a citizen? A nation that cannot or will not protect its citizens in time of peace has no right to ask its citizens to protect it in time of War.

OUR COUNTRY.—Our country is all we hope for—all we are. It is the grave of our father, of our mother, of each and every one of the sacred dead.

It is every glorious memory of our race. Every heroic deed. Every act of self-sacrifice done by our blood. It is all the accomplishments of the past—all the wise things said—all the kind things done—all the poems written and all the poems lived—all the defeats sustained—all the victories won—the girls we love—the wives we adore—the children we carry in our hearts—all the firesides of home—all the quiet springs, the babbling brooks, the rushing rivers, the mountains, plains and woods—the dells and dales and vines and vales.

GIFT GIVING.—I believe in the festival called Christmas—not in the celebration of the birth of any man, but to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness—the victory of the sun.

I believe in giving gifts on that day, and a real gift should be given to those who cannot return it; gifts from the rich to the poor, from the prosperous to the unfortunate, from parents to children.

There is no need of giving water to the sea or light to the sun. Let us give to those who need, neither asking nor expecting return, not even asking gratitude, only asking that the gift shall make the receiver happy—and he who gives in that way increases his own joy.

We have no right to enslave our children. We have no right to bequeath chains and manacles to our heirs. We have no right to leave a legacy of mental degradation.

Liberty is the birthright of all. Parents should not deprive their children of the great gifts of nature. We cannot all leave lands and gold to those we love; but we can leave Liberty, and that is of more value than all the wealth of India.

The dead have no right to enslave the living. To worship ancestors is to curse posterity. He who bows to the Past insults the Future; and allows, so to speak, the dead to rob the unborn. The coffin is good enough in its way, but the cradle is far better. With the bones of the fathers they beat out the brains of the children.

RANDOM THOUGHTS.—The road is short to anything we fear.

     Joy lives in the house beyond the one we reach.

     In youth the time is halting, slow and lame.

     In age the time is winged and eager as a flame.

     The sea seems narrow as we near the farther shore.

Youth goes hand in hand with hope—old age with fear. .

Youth has a wish—old age a dread.

In youth the leaves and buds seem loath to grow.

Youth shakes the glass to speed the lingering sands.

Youth says to Time: O crutched and limping laggard, get thee wings.

The dawn comes slowly, but the Westering day leaps like a lover to the dusky bosom of the Ethiop night.

I THINK that all days are substantially alike in the long run. It is no worse to drink on Sunday than on Monday. The idea that one day in the week is holy is wholly idiotic. Besides, these closing laws do no good.

Laws are not locks and keys. Saloon doors care nothing about laws. Law or no law, people will slip in, and then, having had so much trouble getting there, they will stay until they stagger out. These nasty, meddlesome, Pharisaic, hypocritical laws make sneaks and hypocrites. The children of these laws are like the fathers of the laws. Ever since I can remember, people have been trying to make other people temperate by intemperate laws. I have never known of the slightest success. It is a pity that Christ manufactured wine, a pity that Paul took heart and thanked God when he saw the sign of the Three Taverns; a pity that Jehovah put alcohol in almost everything that grows; a great pity that prayer-meetings are not more popular than saloons; a pity that our workingmen do not amuse themselves reading religious papers and the genealogies in the Old Testament.

Rum has caused many quarrels and many murders.

Religion has caused many wars and covered countless fields with dead.

Of course, all men should be temperate,—should avoid excess—should keep the golden path between extremes—should gather roses, not thorns. The only way to make men temperate is to develop the brain.

When passions and appetites are stronger than the intellect, men are savages; when the intellect governs the passions, when the passions are servants, men are civilized. The people need education—facts—philosophy. Drunkenness is one form of intemperance, prohibition is another form. Another trouble is that these little laws and ordinances can not be enforced.

Both parties want votes, and to get votes they will allow unpopular laws to sleep, neglected, and finally refuse to enforce them. These spasms of virtue, these convulsions of conscience are soon over, and then comes a long period of neglectful rest.

THE OLD AND NEW YEAR.—For countless ages the old earth has been making, in alternating light and shade, in gleam and gloom, the whirling circuit of the sun, leaving the record of its flight in many forms—in leaves of stone, in growth of tree and vine and flower, in glittering gems of many hues, in curious forms of monstrous life, in ravages of flood and flame, in fossil fragments stolen from decay by chance, in molten masses hurled from lips of fire, in gorges worn by waveless, foamless cataracts of ice, in coast lines beaten back by the imprisoned sea, in mountain ranges and in ocean reefs, in islands lifted from the underworld—in continents submerged and given back to light and life.

Another year has joined his shadowy fellows in the wide and voiceless desert of the past, where, from the eternal hour-glass forever fall the sands of time. Another year, with all its joy and grief, of birth and death, of failure and success—of love and hate. And now, the first day of the new o’er arches all. Standing between the buried and the babe, we cry, “Farewell and Hail!”—January 1,1893.

KNOWLEDGE consists in the perception of facts, their relations—conditions, modes and results of action. Experience is the foundation of knowledge—without experience it is impossible to know. It may be that experience can be transmitted—inherited. Suppose that an infinite being existed in infinite space. He being the only existence, what knowledge could he gain by experience? He could see nothing, hear nothing, feel nothing. He would have no use for what we call the senses. Could he use what we call the faculties of the mind? He could not compare, remember, hope or fear. He could not reason. How could he know that he existed? How could he use force? There was in the universe nothing that would resist—nothing.

Most men are economical when dealing with abundance, hoarding gold and wasting time—throwing away the sunshine of life—the few remaining hours, and hugging to their shriveled hearts that which they do not and cannot even expect to use. Old age should enjoy the luxury of giving. How divine to live in the atmosphere, the climate of gratitude! The men who clutch and fiercely hold and look at wife and children with eyes dimmed by age and darkened by suspicion, giving naught until the end, then give to death the gratitude that should have been their own.


* From a letter of condolence written to a friend on the

death of his mother.

After all, there is something tenderly appropriate in the serene death of the old. Nothing is more touching than the death of the young, the strong. But when the duties of life have all been nobly done; when the sun touches the horizon; when the purple twilight falls upon the past, the present, and the future; when memory, with dim eyes, can scarcely spell the blurred and faded records of the vanished days—then, surrounded by kindred and by friends, death comes like a strain of music. The day has been long, the road weary, and the traveler gladly stops at the welcome inn.

Nearly forty-eight years ago, under the snow, in the little town of Cazenovia, my poor mother was buried. I was but two years old. I remember her as she looked in death. That sweet, cold face has kept my heart warm through all the changing years.

There is no cunning art to trace

In any feature, form or face,


Or wrinkled palm, with criss-cross lines

The good or bad in peoples’ minds.


Nor can we guess men’s thoughts or aims

By seeing how they write their names.


We could as well foretell their acts

By getting outlines of their tracks.


Ourselves we do not know—how then

Can we find out our fellow-men?


And yet—although the reason laughs—


We like to look at autographs—


And almost think that we can guess

What lines and dots of ink express.


* From the autograph collection of Miss Eva Ingersoll



August 11, 1892. R. G. Ingersoll.

The World is Growing Poor.—Darwin the naturalist, the observer, the philosopher, is dead. Wagner the greatest composer the world has produced, is silent. Hugo the poet, patriot and philanthropist, is at rest. Three mighty rivers have ceased to flow. The smallest insect was made interesting by Darwin’s glance; the poor blind worm became the farmer’s friend—the maker of the farm,—and even weeds began to dream and hope.

But if we live beyond life’s day and reach the dusk, and slowly travel in the shadows of the night, the way seems long, and being weary we ask for rest, and then, as in our youth, we chide the loitering hours. When eyes are dim and memory fails to keep a record of events; when ears are dull and muscles fail to obey the will; when the pulse is low and the tired heart is weak, and the poor brain has hardly power to think, then comes the dream, the hope of rest, the longing for the peace of dreamless sleep.

SAINTS.—The saints have poisoned life with piety. They have soured the mother’s milk. They have insisted that joy is crime—that beauty is a bait with which the Devil captures the souls of men—that laughter leads to sin—that pleasure, in its every form, degrades, and that love itself is but the loathsome serpent of unclean desire. They have tried to compel men to love shadows rather than women—phantoms rather than people.

The saints have been the assassins of sunshine,—the skeletons at feasts. They have been the enemies of happiness. They have hated the singing birds, the blossoming plants. They have loved the barren and the desolate—the croaking raven and the hooting owl—tombstones, rather than statues.

And yet, with a strange inconsistency, happiness was to be enjoyed forever, in another world. There, pleasure, with all its corrupting influences, was to be eternal. No one pretended that heaven was to be filled with self-denial, with fastings and scourgings, with weepings and regrets, with solemn and emaciated angels, with sad-eyed seraphim, with lonely parsons, with mumbling monks, with shriveled nuns, with days of penance and with nights of prayer.

Yet all this self-denial on the part of the saints was founded in the purest selfishness. They were to be paid for all their sufferings in another world. They were “laying up treasures in heaven.” They had made a bargain with God. He had offered eternal joy to those who would make themselves miserable here. The saints gladly and cheerfully accepted the terms. They expected pay for every pang of hunger, for every groan, for every tear, for every temptation resisted; and this pay was to bean eternity of joy. The selfishness of the saints was equaled only by the stupidity of the saints.

It is not true that character is the aim of life. Happiness should be the aim—and as a matter of fact is and always has been the aim, not only of sinners, but of saints. The saints seemed to think that happiness was better in another world than here, and they expected this happiness beyond the clouds. They looked upon the sinner as foolish to enjoy himself for the moment here, and in consequence thereof to suffer forever. Character is not an end, it is a means to an end. The object of the saint is happiness hereafter—the means, to make himself miserable here. The object of the philosopher is happiness here and now, and hereafter,—if there be another world.

If struggle and temptation, misery and misfortune, are essential to the formation of what you call character, how do you account for the perfection of your angels, or for the goodness of your God? Were the angels perfected through misfortune? If happiness is the only good in heaven, why should it not be considered the only good here?

In order to be happy, we must be in harmony with the conditions of happiness. It cannot be obtained by prayer,—it does not come from heaven—it must be found here, and nothing should be done, or left undone, for the sake of any supernatural being, but for the sake of ourselves and other natural beings.

The early Christians were preparing for the end of the world. In their view, life was of no importance except as it gave them time to prepare for “The Second Coming.” They were crazed by fear. Since that time, the world not coming to the expected end, they have been preparing for “The Day of Judgment,” and have, to the extent of their ability, filled the world with horror. For centuries, it was, and still is, their business to destroy the pleasures of this life. In the midst of prosperity they have prophesied disaster. At every feast they have spoken of famine, and over the cradle they have talked of death. They have held skulls before the faces of terrified babes. On the cheeks of health they see the worms of the grave, and in their eyes the white breasts of love are naught but corruption and decay.

THE WASTE FORCES OF NATURE.—For countless years the great cataracts, as for instance, Niagara, have been singing their solemn songs, filling the savage with terror, the civilized with awe; recording its achievements in books of stone—useless and sublime; inspiring beholders with the majesty of purposeless force and the wastefulness of nature.

Force great enough to turn the wheels of the world, lost, useless.

So with the great tides that rise and fall on all the shores of the world—lost forces. And yet man is compelled to use to exhaustion’s point the little strength he has.

This will be changed.

The great cataracts and the great tides will submit to the genius of man. They are to be for use. Niagara will not be allowed to remain a barren roar. It must become the servant of man. It will weave robes for men and women. It will fashion implements for the farmer and the mechanic. It will propel coaches for rich and poor. It will fill streets and homes with light, and the old barren roar will be changed to songs of success, to the voices of love and content and joy.

Science at last has found that all forces are convertible into each other, and that all are only different aspects of one fact.

So the flood is still a terror, but, in my judgment, the time will come when the floods will be controlled by the genius of man, when the tributaries of the great rivers and their tributaries will be dammed in such a way as to collect the waters of every flood and give them out gradually through all the year, maintaining an equal current at all times in the great rivers.

We have at last found that force occupies a circle, that Niagara is a child of the Sun—that the sun shines, the mist rises, clouds form, the rain falls, the rivers flow to the lakes, and Niagara fills the heavens with its song. Man will arrest the falling flood; he will change its force to electricity; that is to say, to light, and then force will have made the circuit from light to light.

ARE Men’s characters fully determined at the age of thirty?

It depends, first, on what their opportunities have been—that is to say, on their surroundings, their education, their advantages; second, on the shape, quality and quantity of brain they happen to possess; third, on their mental and moral courage; and, fourth, on the character of the people among whom they live.

The natural man continues to grow. The longer he lives, the more he ought to know, and the more he knows, the more he changes the views and opinions held by him in his youth. Every new fact results in a change of views more or less radical. This growth of the mind may be hindered by the “tyrannous north wind” of public opinion; by the bigotry of his associates; by the fear that he cannot make a living if he becomes unpopular; and it is to some extent affected by the ambition of the person; that is to say, if he wishes to hold office the tendency is to agree with his neighbor, or at least to round off and smooth the corners and angles of difference. If a man wishes to ascertain the truth, regardless of the opinions of his fellow-citizens, the probability is that he will change from day to day and from year to year—that is, his intellectual horizon will widen—and that what he once deemed of great importance will be regarded as an exceedingly small segment of a greater circle.

Growth means change. If a man grows after thirty years he must necessarily change. Many men probably reach their intellectual height long before they have lived thirty years, and spend the balance of their lives in defending the mistakes of their youth. A great man continues to grow until his death, and growth—as I said before—means change. Darwin was continually finding new facts, and kept his mind as open to a new truth as the East is to the rising of another sun. Humboldt at the age of ninety maintained the attitude of a pupil, and was, until the moment of his death, willing to learn.

The more a man knows, the more willing he is to learn. The less a man knows, the more positive, a? is that he knows everything.

The smallest minds mature the earliest. The less there is to a man the quicker he attains his growth. I have known many people who reached their intellectual height while in their mother’s arms. I have known people who were exceedingly smart babies to become excessively stupid people. It is with men as with other things. The mullein needs only a year, but the oak a century, and the greatest men are those who have continued to grow as long as they have lived. Small people delight in what they call consistency—that is, it gives them immense pleasure to say that they believe now exactly as they did ten years ago. This simply amounts to a certificate that they have not grown—that they have not developed—and that they know just as little now as they ever did. The highest possible conception of consistency is to be true to the knowledge of to-day, without the slightest reference to what your opinion was years ago.

There is another view of this subject. Few men have settled opinions before or at thirty. Of course, I do not include persons of genius. At thirty the passions have, as a rule, too much influence; the intellect is not the pilot. At thirty most men have prejudices rather than opinions—that is to say, rather than judgments—and few men have lived to be sixty without materially modifying the opinions they held at thirty.

As I said in the first place, much depends on the shape, quality and quantity of brain; much depends on mental and moral courage. There are many people with great physical courage who are afraid to express their opinions; men who will meet death without a tremor and will yet hesitate to express their views.

So, much depends on the character of the people among whom we live. A man in the old times living in New England thought several times before he expressed any opinion contrary to the views of the majority. But if the people have intellectual hospitality, then men express their views—and it may be that we change somewhat in proportion to the decency of our neighbors. In the old times it was thought that God was opposed to any change of opinion, and that nothing so excited the auger of the deity as the expression of a new thought. That idea is fading away.

The real truth is that men change their opinions as long as they grow, and only those remain of the same opinion still who have reached the intellectual autumn of their lives; who have gone to seed, and who are simply waiting for the winter of death. Now and then there is a brain in which there is the climate of perpetual spring—men who never grow old—and when such a one is found we say, “Here is a genius.”

Talent has the four seasons: spring, that is to say, the sowing of the seeds; summer, growth; autumn, the harvest; winter, intellectual death. But there is now and then a genius who has no winter, and, no matter how many years he may live, on the blossom of his thought no snow falls. Genius has the climate of perpetual growth.

THE MOIETY SYSTEM.—The Secretary of the Treasury recommends a revival of the moiety system. Against this infamous step every honest citizen ought to protest.

In this country, taxes cannot be collected through such instrumentalities. An informer is not indigenous to our soil. He always has been and always will be held in merited contempt.

Every inducement, by this system, is held out to the informer to become a liar. The spy becomes an officer of the Government. He soon becomes the terror of his superior. He is a sword without a hilt and without a scabbard. Every taxpayer becomes the lawful prey of a detective whose property depends upon the destruction of his prey.

These informers and spies are corrupters of public morals. They resort to all known dishonest means for the accomplishment of what they pretend to be an honest object. With them perjury becomes a fine art. Their words are a commodity bought and sold in courts of justice.

This is the first phase. In a little while juries will refuse to believe them, and every suit in which they are introduced will be lost by the Government. Of this the real thieves will be quick to take advantage. So many honest men will have been falsely charged by perjured informers and moiety miscreants, that to convict the guilty will become impossible. If the Government wishes to collect the taxes it must set an honorable example. It must deal kindly and honestly with the people. It must not inaugurate a vampire system of espionage. It must not take it for granted that every manufacturer and importer is a thief, and that all spies and informers are honest men.

The revenues of this country are as honestly paid as they are expended. There has been as much fair dealing outside as inside of the Treasury Department.

But, however that may be, the informer system will not make them honest men, but will in all probability produce exactly the opposite result. If our system of taxation is so unpopular that the revenues cannot be collected without bribing men to tell the truth; if our officers must be offered rewards beyond their salaries to state the facts; if it is impossible to employ men to discharge their duties honestly, then let us change the system. The moiety system makes the Treasury Department a vast vampire sucking the blood of the people upon shares. Americans detest informers, spies, detectives, turners of State’s evidence, eavesdroppers, paid listeners, hypocrites, public smellers, trackers, human hounds and ferrets. They despise men who “suspect” for a living; they hate legal lyers-in-wait and the highwaymen of the law. They abhor the betrayers of friends and those who lead and tempt others to commit a crime in order that they may detect it. In a monarchy, the detective system is a necessity. The great thief has to be sustained by smaller ones.—December 4, 1877.

LANGUAGE.—Most people imagine that men have always talked; that language is as old as the race; and it is supposed that some language was taught by some mythological god to the first pair. But we now know, if we know anything, that language is a growth; that every word had to be created by man, and that back of every word is some want, some wish, some necessity of the body or mind, and also a genius to embody that want or that wish, to express that thought in some sound that we call a word.

At first, the probability is that men uttered sounds of fear, of content, of anger, or happiness. And the probability is that the first sounds or cries expressed such feelings, and these sounds were nouns, adjectives, and verbs.

After a time, man began to give his ideas to others by rude pictures, drawings of animals and trees and the various other things with which he could give rude thoughts. At first he would make a picture of the whole animal. Afterward some part of the animal would stand for the whole, and in some of the old picture-writings the curve of the nostril of a horse stands for the animal. This was the shorthand of picture-writing. But it was a long journey to where marks would stand, not for pictures, but for sounds. And then think of the distance still to the alphabet. Then to writing, so that marks took entirely the place of pictures. Then the invention of movable type, and then the press, making it possible to save the wealth of the brain; making it possible for a man to leave not simply his property to his fellow-man, not houses and lands and dollars, but his ideas, his thoughts, his theories, his dreams, the poetry and pathos of his soul. Now each generation is heir to all the past.

If we had free thought, then we could collect the wealth of the intellectual world. In the physical world, springs make the creeks and brooks, and they the rivers, and the rivers empty into the great sea. So each brain should add to the sum of human knowledge. If we deny freedom of thought, the springs cease to gurgle, the rivers to run, and the great ocean of knowledge becomes a desert of barren, ignorant sand.

THIS IS AN AGE OF MONEY-GETTING, of materialism, of cold, unfeeling science. The question arises, Is the world growing less generous, less heroic, less chivalric?

Let us answer this. The experience of the individual is much like the experience of a generation, or of a race. An old man imagines that everything was better when he was young; that the weather could then be depended on; that sudden changes are recent inventions. So he will tell you that people used to be honest; that the grocers gave full weight and the merchants full measure, and that the bank cashier did not spend the evening of his days in Canada.

He will also tell you that the women were handsome and virtuous. There were no scandals then, no divorces, and that in religion all were orthodox—no Infidels. Before he gets through, he will probably tell you that the art of cooking has been lost—that nobody can make biscuit now, and that he never expects to eat another slice of good bread.

He mistakes the twilight of his own life for the coming of the night of universal decay and death. He imagines that that has happened to the world, which has only happened to him. It does not occur to him that millions at the moment he is talking are undergoing the experience of his youth, and that when they become old they will praise the very days that he denounces.

The Garden of Eden has always been behind us. The Golden Age, after all, is the memory of youth—it is the result of remembered pleasure in the midst of present pain.

To old age youth is divine, and the morning of life cloudless.

So now thousands and millions of people suppose that the age of true chivalry has gone by and that honesty has about concluded to leave the world. As a matter of fact, the age known as the age of chivalry was the age of tyranny, of arrogance and cowardice. Men clad in complete armor cut down the peasants that were covered with leather, and these soldiers of the chivalric age armored themselves to that degree that if they fell in battle they could not rise, held to the earth by the weight of iron that their bravery had got itself entrenched within. Compare the difference in courage between going to war in coats of mail against sword and spear, and charging a battery of Krupp guns!

The ideas of justice have grown larger and nobler. Charity now does, without a thought, what the average man a few centuries ago was incapable of imagining. In the old times slavery was upheld, and imprisonment for debt. Hundreds of crimes—or rather misdemeanors—were punishable by death. Prisons were loathsome beyond description. Thousands and thousands died in chains. The insane were treated like wild beasts; no respect was paid to sex or age. Women were burned and beheaded and torn asunder as though they had been hyenas, and children were butchered with the greatest possible cheerfulness.

So it seems to me that the world is more chivalric, more generous, nearer just and fair, more charitable, than ever before.

THE COLORED MAN is doing well. He is hungry for knowledge. Their children are going to school. Colored boys are taking prizes in the colleges. A colored man was the orator of Harvard. They are industrious, and in the South many are becoming rich. As the people, black and white, become educated they become better friends. The old prejudice is the child of ignorance. The colored man will succeed if the South succeeds. The South is richer to-day than ever before, more prosperous, and both races are really improving. The greatest danger in the South, and for that matter all over the country, is the mob. It is the duty of every good citizen to denounce the mob. Down with the mob.

FREEDOM OF RELIGION is the destruction of religion. In Rome, after people were allowed to worship their own gods, all gods fell into disrepute. It will be so in America. Here is freedom of religion, and all devotees find that the gods of other devotees are just as good as theirs. They find that the prayers of others are answered precisely as their prayers are answered.

The Protestant God is no better than the Catholic, and the Catholic is no better than the Mormon, and the Mormon is no better than Nature for answering prayers. In other words, all prayers die in the air which they uselessly agitate. There is undoubtedly a tendency among the Protestant denominations to unite. This tendency is born of weakness, not of strength. In a few years, if all should unite, they would hardly have power enough to obstruct, for any considerable time, the march of the intellectual host destined to conquer the world. But let us all be good natured; let us give to others all the rights that we claim for ourselves. The future, I believe, has both hands full of blessings for the human race.

THE DEISTS AND NATURE.—We who deny the supernatural origin of the Bible, must admit not only that it exists, but that it was naturally produced. If it is not supernatural, it is natural. It will hardly do for the worshipers of Nature to hold the Bible in contempt, simply because it is not a supernatural book.

The Deists of the last century made a mistake. They proceeded to show that the Bible is immoral, untrue, cruel and absurd, and therefore came to the conclusion that it could not have been written by a being of infinite wisdom and goodness,—the being whom they believed to be the author of Nature. Could not infinite wisdom and goodness just as easily command crime as to permit it? Is it really any worse to order the strong to slay the weak, than to stand by and refuse to protect the weak?

After all, is Nature, taken together, any better than the Bible? If God did not command the Jews to murder the Canaanites, Nature, to say the least, did not prevent it. If God did not uphold the practice of polygamy, Nature did. The moment we deny the supernatural origin of the Bible, we declare that Nature wrote its every word, commanded all its cruelties, told all its falsehoods. The Bible is, like Nature, a mixture of what we call “good” and “bad,”—of what appears, and of what in reality is.

The Bible must have been a perfectly natural production not only, but a necessary one. There was, and is, no power in the universe that could have changed one word. All the mistakes in translation were necessarily made, and not one, by any possibility, could have been avoided. That book, like all other facts in Nature, could not have been otherwise than it is. The fact being that Nature has produced all superstitions, all persecution, all slavery, and every crime, ought to be sufficient to deter the average man from imagining that this power, whatever it may be, is worthy of worship.

There is good in Nature. It is the nature in us that perceives the evil, that pursues the right. In man, Nature not only contemplates herself, but approves or condemns her actions. Of course, “good” and “bad” are relative terms, and things are “good” or “bad” as they affect man well or ill.

Infidels, skeptics,—that is to say, Freethinkers, have opposed the Bible on account of the bad things in it, and Christians have upheld it, not on account of the bad, but on account of the good. Throw away the doctrine of inspiration, and the Bible will be more powerful for good and far less for evil. Only a few years ago, Christians looked upon the Bible as the bulwark of human slavery. It was the word of God, and for that reason was superior to the reason of uninspired man. Had it been considered simply as the work of man, it would not have been quoted to establish that which the man of this age condemns. Throw away the idea of inspiration, and all passages in conflict with liberty, with science, with the experience of the intelligent part of the human race, instantly become harmless. They are no longer guides for man. They are simply the opinions of dead barbarians. The good passages not only remain, but their influence is increased, because they are relieved of a burden.

No one cares whether the truth is inspired or not. The truth is independent of man, not only, but of God. And by truth I do not mean the absolute, I mean this: Truth is the relation between things and thoughts, and between thoughts and thoughts. The perception of this relation bears the same relation to the logical faculty in man, that music does to some portion of the brain—that is to say, it is a mental melody. This sublime strain has been heard by a few, and I am enthusiastic enough to believe that it will be the music of the future.

For the good and for the true in the Old and New Testaments I have the same regard that I have for the good and true, no matter where they may be found. We who know how false the history of to-day is; we who know the almost numberless mistakes that men make who are endeavoring to tell the truth; we who know how hard it is, with all the facilities we now have—with the daily press, the telegraph, the fact that nearly all can read and write—to get a truthful report of the simplest occurrence, must see that nothing short of inspiration (admitting for the moment the possibility of such a thing,) could have prevented the Scriptures from being filled with error.

AT LAST, THE SCHOOLHOUSE is larger than the church. The common people have, through education, become uncommon. They now know how little is really known by kings, presidents, legislators, and professors. At last, they are capable of not only understanding a few questions, but they have acquired the art of discussing those that no one understands. With the facility of the cultured, they can now hide behind phrases and make barricades of statistics. They understand the sophistries of the upper classes; and while the cultured have been turning their attention to the classics, to the dead languages, and the dead ideas that they contain,—while they have been giving their attention to ceramics, artistic decorations, and compulsory prayers, the common people have been compelled to learn the practical things. They are acquainted with facts, because they have done the work of the world.

CRUELTY.—Sometimes it has seemed to me that cruelty is the climate of crime, and that generosity is the Spring, Summer and Autumn of virtue. Every form of wickedness, of meanness, springs from selfishness, that is to say, from cruelty. Every good man hates and despises the wretch who abuses wife and child—who rules by curses and blows and makes his home a kind of hell. So, no generous man wishes to associate with one who overworks his horse and feeds the lean and fainting beast with blows.

The barbarian delights in inflicting pain. He loves to see his victim bleed,—but the civilized man staunches blood, binds up wounds and decreases pain. He pities the suffering animal as well as the suffering man.

He would no more inflict wanton wounds upon a dog than on a man. The heart of the civilized man speaks for the dumb and helpless.

A good man would no more think of flaying a living animal than of murdering his mother. The man who cuts a hoof from the leg of a horse is capable of committing any crime that does not require courage. Such an experiment can be of no use. Under no circumstances are hoofs taken from horses for the good of the horses any more than their heads would be cut off.

Think of the pain inflicted by separating the hoof of a living horse from the flesh! If the poor beast could speak what would he say? The same knowledge could be obtained by cutting away the hoof of a dead horse. Knowledge of every bone, ligament, artery and vein, of every cartilage and joint can be obtained by the dissection of the dead. “But,” says the biologist, “we must dissect the living.”

Well, millions of living animals have been cut in pieces; millions of experiments have been tried; all the nerves have been touched; every possible agony has been inflicted that ingenuity could invent and cruelty accomplish. Many volumes have been published filled with accounts of these experiments, giving all the details and the results. People who are curious about such things can read these reports. There is no need of repeating these savage experiments. It is now known how long a dog can live with all the pores of his skin closed, how long he can survive the loss of his skin, or one lobe of his brain, or both of his kidneys, or part of his intestines, or without his liver, and there is no necessity of mutilating and mangling thousands of other dogs to substantiate what is already known.

Of what possible use is it to know just how long an animal can live without water—at what time he becomes insane from thirst, or blind or deaf?

THE WORLD’S FAIR will do great good. A great many thousand people of the Old World will for the first time understand the new; will for the first time appreciate what a free people can do. For the first time they will know the value of free institutions, of individual independence, of a country where people express their thoughts, are not afraid of each other, not afraid to try—a people so accustomed to success that disaster is not taken into calculation. Of course, we have great advantages. We have a new half of the world. We have soil better than is found in other countries, and the soil is new and generous and anxious to be cultivated. So we have everything in hill and mountain that man can need—silver, and gold, and iron beyond computation—and, in addition to all that, our people are the most inventive. We sustain about the same relation to invention that Italy in her palmy days did to art, or that Spain did to superstition.

And right here it may be well enough to say that I think it was exceedingly unfortunate that this country was discovered under the auspices of Spain. Ferdinand and Isabella were a couple of wretches. The same year that Columbus discovered America, these sovereigns expelled the Jews from Spain, and the expulsion was accompanied by every outrage, by every atrocity to which man—that is to say, savage man—that is to say, the superstitious savage—is capable of inflicting.

The Spaniards came to America and destroyed two civilizations far better than their own. They were natural robbers, buccaneers, and thought nothing of murdering thousands for gold. I am perfectly willing to celebrate the fact of discovery, but for the sovereigns of Spain I am not willing to celebrate, except, perhaps their deaths. There is at least some joy to be extracted from that.

In spite of the untoward circumstances under which the continent was discovered and settled, there is one thing that counteracted to a certain degree the influence of the Old World in the New. Possibly we owe our liberty to the Indians. If there had been no hostile savages on this continent, the kings and princes of the Old World would have taken possession and would have divided it out among their favorites. They tried to do that, but their favorites could not take possession. They had to fight for the soil and in the conflict of centuries they found that a good fighter was a good citizen, and the ideas of caste were slowly lost.

Then another thing was of benefit to us. The settlers felt that they had earned the soil; that they had fought for it, gained it by their sufferings, their courage, their selfdenial, and their labor; and the idea crept into their heads that the kings in Europe, who had done nothing, had no right to dictate to them.

Thus at first the spirit of caste was destroyed by respectability resting on usefulness. The spirit of subserviency to the Old World also died, and the people who had rescued the land made up their minds not only to own it, but to control it. They were also firmly convinced that the profits belonged to them. In this way manhood was recognized in the New World. In this way grew up the feeling of nationality here.

What I wish to see celebrated in this great exposition are the triumphs that have been achieved in this New World. These I wish to see above all. At the same time I want the best that labor and thought have produced in all countries. It seems to me that in the presence of the wonderful machines, of those marvelous mechanical contrivances by which we take advantage of the forces of nature, by which we make servants of the elemental powers—in the presence, I say, of these, it seems to me respect for labor must be born. We shall begin to appreciate the men of use instead of those who have posed as decorations. All the beautiful things, all the useful things, come from labor, and it is labor that has made the world a fit habitation for the human race.

Take from the World’s Fair what labor has produced—the work of the great artists—and nothing will be left. What have the great conquerors to show in this great exhibition? What shall we get from the Caesars and the Napoleons? What shall we get from popes and cardinals? What shall we get from the nobility? From princes and lords and dukes? What excuse have they for having existence and for having lived on the bread earned by honest men? They stand in the show-windows of history, lay figures, on which fine goods are shown, but inside the raiment there is nothing, and never was. This exposition will be the apotheosis of labor. No man can attend it without losing, if he has any sense at all, the spirit of caste; or, if he still maintains it, he will put the useful in the highest class, and the useless, whether carrying sceptres or dishes for alms, in the lowest.—October, 1892.

THE SAVAGE made of the river, the tree, the mountain, a fetich. He put within, or behind these things, a spirit—according to Mr. Spencer, the spirit of a dead ancestor. This is considered by the modern Christian, and in fact by the modern philosopher, as the lowest possible phase of the religious idea. To put behind the river or the tree, or within them, a spirit, a something, is considered the religion of savagery; but to put behind the universe, or within it, the same kind of fetich, is considered the height of philosophy.

For my part, I see no possible distinction in these systems, except that the view of the savage is altogether the more poetic. The fetich of the savage is the noumenon of the Greek, the God of the theologian, the First Cause of the metaphysician, the Unknowable of Spencer.

THE UNTHINKABLE.—It is admitted by all who have thought upon the question that a First Cause is unthinkable—that a creative power is beyond the reach of human thought. It therefore follows that the miraculous is unthinkable. There is no possible way in which the human mind can even think of a miracle. It is infinitely beyond our power of conception. We can conceive of the statement, but not of the thing. It is impossible for the intellect to conceive of a clay pot producing oil. It is impossible to conceive even, of human life being perpetuated in the midst of fire. This is just as unthinkable as that twice two are twenty-seven. A man can say that three times three are two, but it is impossible to think of any such thing—that is, to think of such a statement as true. A man may say that he heard a stone sing a song and heard it afterward repeat a part of Milton’s “Paradise Lost.” Now, I can conceive of a man telling such a falsehood, but I cannot conceive of the thing having happened.

CAN HUMAN TESTIMONY Overcome the Apparently Impossible Without Explanation?—It can only be believed by a philosophic mind when explained—that is to say, by being destroyed as a miracle, and persisting simply as a fact.

Now, I say that a miracle is unthinkable because a power above Nature, a power that created Nature, is unthinkable. And if a power above Nature be unthinkable, the miracles claiming to be supernatural are unthinkable. In other words, all consequences flowing from a belief in an infinite Creator are necessarily unthinkable.

EDOUARD REMENYI.—This week the great violinist, Edouard Remenyi, as my guest, visited the Bass Rocks House, Cape Ann, Mass., and for three days delighted and entranced the fortunate idlers of the beach. He played nearly all the time, night and day, seemingly carried away with his own music. Among the many selections given, were the andante from the Tenth Sonata in E flat, also from the Twelfth Sonata in G minor, by Mozart. Nothing could exceed the wonderful playing of the selections from the Twelfth Sonata. A hush as of death fell upon the audience, and when he ceased, tears fell upon applauding hands. Then followed the Elegie from Ernst; then “The Ideal Dance” composed by himself—a fairy piece, full of wings and glancing feet, moonlight and melody, where fountains fall in showers of pearl, and waves of music die on sands of gold—then came the “Barcarole” by Schubert, and he played this with infinite spirit, in a kind of inspired frenzy, as though music itself were mad with joy; then the grand Sonata in G, in three movements, by Beethoven.—August, 1880.

Remenyi’s Playing.—In my mind the old tones are still rising and falling—still throbbing, pleading, beseeching, imploring, wailing like the lost—rising winged and triumphant, superb and victorious—then caressing, whispering every thought of love—intoxicated, delirious with joy—panting with passion—fading to silence as softly and imperceptibly as consciousness is lost in sleep.

THE KINDERGARTEN is perfectly adapted to the natural needs and desires of children. Most children dislike the old system and go “unwillingly to school.” They feel imprisoned and wait impatiently for their liberty. They learn without understanding and take no interest in their lessons. In the Kindergarten there is perfect liberty, and study is transformed into play. To learn is a pleasure. There are no wearisome tasks—no mental drudgery—nothing but enjoyment,—the enjoyment of natural development in natural ways. Children do not have to be driven to the Kindergarten. To be kept away is a punishment.

The experience in many towns and cities justifies our belief that the Kindergarten is the only valuable school for little children. They are brought in contact with actual things—with forms and colors—things that can be seen and touched, and they are taught to use their hands and senses—to understand qualities and relations, and all is done under the guise of play. We agree with Froebel who said: “Let us live for our children.”

THE METHODIST CHURCH STATISTICS.—First. In 1800, a resolution in favor of gradual emancipation was defeated.

Second. In 1804, resolutions passed requiring ministers to exhort slaves to be obedient to their masters.

Third. In 1808, everything about laymen owning slaves Stricken out.

Fourth. In 1820, a resolution that ministers should not hold slaves was defeated.

Fifth. In 1836, a resolution passed that the MethodistChurch opposed, abolition of slavery—one hundred and twenty to fourteen.

Sixth. In 1845-1846, the MethodistChurch divided—Bishop Andrews owned slaves.

Seventh. As late as 1860 there were over ten thousand Methodists who were slaveholders in the M. E. Church, North.









* Response to an invitation to a dinner and a billiard

     tournament at the Manhattan Athletic Club, New York City.


117 East 21st Str., N. Y.

Feb. 18, 1899.


My Dear Dr. Ranney:


I go to Boston to-morrow. So, you see it is impossible for me to be with you on the 22d inst. I would like to make a few remarks on “orthodox billiards.” The fact is that the whole world is a table, we are the balls and Fate plays the game. We are knocked and whacked against each other,—followed and drawn—whirled and twisted, pocketed and spotted, and all the time we think that we are doing the playing. But no matter, we feel that we are in the game, and a real good illusion is, after all, it may be, the only reality that we know. At the same time, I feel that Fate is a careless player—that he is always a little nervous and generally forgets to chalk his cue. I know that he has made lots of mistakes with me—lots of misses.


With many thanks, I remain, yours always.


R. G. Ingersoll.

THOUGHTS ON CHRISTMAS, 1891.—It is beautiful to give one day to the ideal—to have one day apart; one day for generous deeds, for good will, for gladness; one day to forget the shadows, the rains, the storms of life; to remember the sunshine, the happiness of youth and health; one day to forget the briers and thorns of the winding path, to remember the fruits and flowers; one day in which to feed the hungry, to salute the poor and lowly; one day to feel the brotherhood of man; one day to remember the heroic and loving deeds of the dead; one day to get acquainted with children, to remember the old, the unfortunate and the imprisoned; one day in which to forget yourself and think lovingly of others; one day for the family, for the fireside, for wife and children, for the love and laughter, the joy and rapture, of home; one day in which bonds and stocks and deeds and notes and interest and mortgages and all kinds of business and trade are forgotten, and all stores and shops and factories and offices and banks and ledgers and accounts and lawsuits are cast aside, put away and locked up, and the weary heart and brain are given a voyage to fairyland.

Let us hope that such a day is a prophecy of what all days will be.

THE ORTHODOX PREACHERS are several centuries in the rear. They all love the absurd, and glory in believing the impossible. They are also as conservative as though they were dead—good people—the leaders of those who are going backward.


     The Man who builds a home erects a temple.

The flame upon the hearth is the sacred fire.

He who loves wife and children is the true worshiper.

Forms and ceremonies, kneelings and fastings are born of selfish fear.

A good deed is the best prayer.

A loving life is the best religion.

No one knows whether the Unknown is worthy of worship or not.

WE TWO, THE DOUBTING BRAIN AND HOPING HEART, with somber thought and radiant wish, in dusk and dawn, in light and shade ‘neath star and sun, together journeying toward the night. And then the end, sighs the doubting brain—but there is no end, says the hoping heart. O Brain! if you knew, you would not doubt. O Heart! if you knew, you would not hope.

RIGHTS AND DUTIES spring from the same source. He who has no rights has no duties. Without liberty there can be no responsibility and no conscience. Man calls himself to an account for the use of his power, and passes judgment upon himself. The standard of such judgment we call conscience. In the proportion that man uses his liberty, his power, for the good of all, he advances, becomes civilized. Civilization does not consist merely in invention, discovery, material advancement, but in doing justice. By civilization is meant all discoveries, facts, theories, agencies, that add to the happiness of man.

AT BAY.—Sometimes in the darkness of night I feel as though surrounded by the great armies of effacement—that the horizon is growing smaller every moment—that the final surrender is only postponed—that everything is taking something from me—that Nature robs me with her countless hands—that my heart grows weaker with every beat—that even kisses wear me away, and that every thought takes toll of my brief life.

THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY.*—One year of perfect health—of countless smiles—of wonder and surprise—of growing thought and love—was duly celebrated on this day, and all paid tribute to the infant queen. There were whirling things that scattered music as they turned—and boxes filled with tunes—and curious animals of whittled wood—and ivory rings with tinkling bells—and little dishes for a fairy-feast—horses that rocked, and bleating sheep and monstrous elephants of painted tin. A baby-tender, for a tender babe, garments of silk and cushions wrought with flowers, and pictures of her mother when a babe—and silver dishes for another year—and coach and four and train of cars—and bric-a-brac for a baby’s house—and last of all, a pearl, to mark her first round year of life and love.

* Written on the first anniversary of his grandchild, Eva

Ingersoll-Brown, August 27, 1892.

SHELLEY.—The light of morn beyond the purple hills—a palm that lifts its coronet of leaves above the desert’s sands—an isle of green in some far sea—a spring that waits for lips of thirst—a strain of music heard within some palace wrought of dreams—a cloud of gold above a setting sun—a fragrance wafted from some unseen shore.

FATE.—Never hurried, never delayed, passionless, pitiless, patient, keeping the tryst—neither early nor late—there, on the very stroke and center of the instant fixed.

QUIET, and introspective calm come with the afternoon. Toward evening the mind grows satisfied and still. The flare and flicker of youth are gone, and the soul is like the flame of a lamp where the air is at rest. Age discards the superfluous, the immaterial, the straw and chaff, and hoards the golden grain. The highway is known, and the paths no longer mislead. Clouds are not mistaken for mountains.

THE OLD MAN has been long at the fair. He is acquainted with the jugglers at the booths. His curiosity has been satisfied. He no longer cares for the exceptional, the monstrous, the marvelous and deformed. He looks through and beyond the gilding, the glitter and gloss, not only of things, but of conduct, of manners, theories, religions and philosophies. He sees clearer. The light no longer shines in his eyes.

The time will come when even selfishness will be charitable for its own sake, because at that time the man will have grown and developed to that degree that selfishness demands generosity and kindness and justice. The self becomes so noble that selfishness is a virtue. The lowest form of selfishness is when one is willing to be happy, or wishes to be happy, at the expense or the misery of another. The highest form of selfishness is when a man becomes so noble that he finds his happiness in making others so. This is the nobility of selfishness.

CUBA fell upon her knees—stretched her thin hands toward the great Republic. We saw her tear-filled eyes—her withered breasts—her dead babes—her dying—her buried and unburied dead. We heard her voice, and pity, roused to action by her grief, became as stern as justice, and the great Republic cried to Spain: “Sheathe the dagger of assassination; take your bloody hand from the throat of the helpless; and take your flag from the heaven of the Western World.”

Perhaps I have reached the years of discretion. But it may be that discretion is the enemy of happiness. If the buds had discretion there might be no fruit. So it may be that the follies committed in the spring give autumn the harvest.—August 11,1892.

Dickens wrote for homes—Thackeray for clubs. Byron did not care for the fireside—for the prattle of babes—for the smiles and tears of humble life. He was touched by grandeur rather than goodness,—loved storm and crag and the wild sea. But Burns lived in the valley, touched by the joys and griefs of lowly lives.

Imagine amethysts, rubies, diamonds, emeralds and opals mingled as liquids—then imagine these marvelous glories of light and color changed to a tone, and you have the wondrous, the incomparable voice of Scalchi.

THE ORGAN.—The beginnings—the timidities—the half thoughts—blushes—suggestions—a phrase of grace and feeling—a sustained note—the wing on the wind—confidence—the flight—rising with many harmonies that unite in the voluptuous swell—in the passionate tremor—rising still higher—flooding the great dome with the soul of enraptured sound.

NEW MEXICO is a most wonderful country. It is a ragged miser with billions of buried treasure. It looks as if Nature had guarded her silver and gold with enough desolation to deter all but the brave.

WHY SHOULD THE INDIAN SUMMER of a life be lost—the long, serene, and tender days when earth and sky are friends? The falling leaves disclose the ripened fruit—and so the flight of youth with dreams and fancies should show the wealth of bending bough.

Give milk to babes, and wine to youth. But for old age, when ghosts of more than two-score years are wandering on the traveled road, the fragrant tea, that loosens gossip’s tongue, is best.—December 25,1892.

     [From a letter thanking a friend for a Christmas present of

a chest of tea.]

ON MEMORIAL DAY our hearts blossom in gratitude as we lovingly remember the brave men upon whose brows Death, with fleshless hands, placed the laurel wreath of fame.

THE SOUL IS AN ARCHITECT—it builds a habitation for itself—and as the soul is, is the habitation. Some live in dens and caves, and some in lowly homes made rich with love, and overrun with vine and flower.

SCIENCE at last holds with honest hand the scales wherein are weighed the facts and fictions of the world. She neither kneels nor prays, she stands erect and thinks. Her tongue is not a traitor to her brain. Her thought and speech agree.

THE NEGRO who can pass me in the race of life will receive my admiration, and he can count on my friendship. No man ever lived who proved his superiority by trampling on the weak.

RELIGION is like a palm tree—it grows at the top. The dead leaves are all orthodox, while the new ones and the buds are all heretics.

MEMORY is the miser of the mind; forgetfulness the spendthrift.

HOPE is the only bee that makes honey without flowers.

THE FIRES OF THE NEXT WORLD sustain the same relation to churches that those in this world sustain to insurance companies.

Now and then there arises a man who on peril’s edge draws from the scabbard of despair the sword of victory.

The falling leaf that tells of autumn’s death is, in a subtler sense, a prophecy of spring.

Vice lives either before Love is born, or after Love is dead.

Intellectual freedom is only the right to be honest.

I believe that finally man will go through the phase of religion before birth.

When shrill chanticleer pierces the dull ear of morn.

Orthodoxy is the refuge of mediocrity.

The ocean is the womb of all that will be, the tomb of all that has been.

Jealousy never knows the value of a fact.

Envy cannot reason, malice cannot prophesy.

Love has a kind of second sight.

I have never given to any one a sketch of my life. According to my idea a life should not be written until it has been lived.—July 1, 1888.


THE Great Fair should be for the intellectual, mechanical, artistic, political and social advancement of the world. Nations, like small communities, are in danger of becoming provincial, and must become so, unless they exchange commodities, theories, thoughts, and ideals. Isolation is the soil of ignorance, and ignorance is the soil of egotism; and nations, like individuals who live apart, mistake provincialism for perfection, and hatred of all other nations for patriotism. With most people, strangers are not only enemies, but inferiors. They imagine that they are progressive because they know little of others, and compare their present, not with the present of other nations, but with their own past.

Few people have imagination enough to sympathize with those of a different complexion, with those professing another religion or speaking another language, or even wearing garments unlike their own. Most people regard every difference between themselves and others as an evidence of the inferiority of the others. They have not intelligence enough to put themselves in the place of another if that other happens to be outwardly unlike themselves.

Countless agencies have been at work for many years destroying the hedges of thorn that have so long divided nations, and we at last are beginning to see that other people do not differ from us, except in the same particulars that we differ from them. At last, nations are becoming acquainted with each other, and they now know that people everywhere are substantially the same. We now know that while nations differ outwardly in form and feature, somewhat in theory, philosophy and creed, still, inwardly—that is to say, so far as hopes and passions are concerned—they are much the same, having the same fears, experiencing the same joys and sorrows. So we are beginning to find that the virtues belong exclusively to no race, to no creed, and to no religion; that the humanities dwell in the hearts of men, whomever and whatever they may happen to worship. We have at last found that every creed is of necessity a provincialism, destined to be lost in the universal.

At last, Science extends an invitation to all nations, and places at their disposal its ships and its cars; and when these people meet—or rather, the representatives of these people—they will find that, in spite of the accidents of birth, they are, after all, about the same; that their sympathies, their ideas’ of right and wrong, of virtue and vice, of heroism and honor, are substantially alike. They will find that in every land honesty is honored, truth respected and admired, and that generosity and charity touch all hearts.

So it is of the greatest importance that the inventions of the world should be brought beneath one roof. These inventions, in my judgment, are destined to be the liberators of mankind. They enslave forces and compel the energies of nature to work for man. These forces have no backs to feel the lash, no tears to shed, no hearts to break.

The history of the world demonstrates that man becomes What we call civilized by increasing his wants. As his necessities increase, he becomes industrious and energetic. If his heart does not keep pace with his brain, he is cruel, and the physically or mentally strong enslave the physically or mentally weak. At present these inventions, while they have greatly increased the countless articles needed by man, have to a certain extent enslaved mankind. In a savage state there are few failures. Almost any one succeeds in hunting and fishing. The wants are few, and easily supplied. As man becomes civilized, wants increase; or rather as wants increase, man becomes civilized. Then the struggle for existence becomes complex; failures increase.

The first result of the invention of machinery has been to increase the wealth of the few. The hope of the world is that through invention man can finally take such advantage of these forces of nature, of the weight of water, of the force of wind, of steam, of electricity, that they will do the work of the world; and it is the hope of the really civilized that these inventions will finally cease to be the property of the few, to the end that they may do the work of all for all.

When those who do the work own the machines, when those who toil control the invention, then, and not till then, can the world be civilized or free. When these forces shall do the bidding of the individual, when they become the property of the mechanic instead of the monopoly, when they belong to labor instead of what is called capital, when these great powers are as free to the individual laborer as the air and light are now free to all, then, and not until then, the individual will be restored and all forms of slavery will disappear.

Another great benefit will come from the Fair. Other nations in some directions are more artistic than we, but no other nation has made the common as beautiful as we have. We have given beauty of form to machines, to common utensils, to the things of every day, and have thus laid the foundation for producing the artistic in its highest possible forms. It will be of great benefit to us to look upon the paintings and marbles of the Old World. To see them is an education.

The great Republic has lived a greater poem than the brain and heart of man have as yet produced, and we have supplied material for artists and poets yet unborn; material for form and color and song. The Republic is to-day Art’s greatest market.

Nothing else is so well calculated to make friends of all nations as really to become acquainted with the best that each has produced.

The nation that has produced a great poet, a great artist, a great statesman, a great thinker, takes its place on an equality with other nations of the world, and transfers to all of its citizens some of the genius of its most illustrious men.

This great Fair will be an object lesson to other nations. They will see the result of a government, republican in form, where the people are the source of authority, where governors and presidents are servants—not rulers. We want all nations to see the great Republic as it is, to study and understand its growth, development and destiny. We want them to know that here, under our flag, are sixty-five millions of people and that they are the best fed, the best clothed and the best housed in the world. We want them to know that we are solving the great social problems, and that we are going to demonstrate the right and power of man to govern himself. We want the subjects of other nations to see aland filled with citizens—not subjects; aland in which the pew is above the pulpit; where the people are superior to the state; where legislators are representatives and where authority means simply the duty to enforce the people’s will.

Let us hope above all things that this Fair will bind the nations together closer and stronger; and let us hope that this will result in the settlement of all national difficulties by arbitration instead of war. In a savage state, individuals settle their own difficulties by an appeal to force. After a time these individuals agree that their difficulties shall be settled by others. This is the first great step toward civilization. The result is the establishment of courts. Nations at present sustain to each other the same relation that savage does to savage. Each nation is left to decide for itself, and it generally decides according to its strength—not the strength of its side of the case, but the strength of its army. The consequence is that what is called “the Law of Nations” is a savage code. The world will never be civilized until there is an international court. Savages begin to be civilized when they submit their difficulties to their peers. Nations will become civilized when they submit their difficulties to a great court, the judgments of which can be carried out, all nations pledging the co-operation of their armies and their navies for that purpose.

If the holding of the great Fair shall result in hastening the coming of that time it will be a blessing to the whole world.

And here let me prophesy: The Fair will be worthy of Chicago, the most wonderful city of the world—of Illinois, the best State in the Union—of the United States, the best country on the earth. It will eclipse all predecessors in every department. It will represent the progressive spirit of the nineteenth century. Beneath its ample roofs will be gathered the treasures of Art, and the accomplishments of Science. At the feet of the Republic will be laid the triumphs of our race, the best of every land.—The illustrated World’s Fair, Chicago, November, 1891.


THE idea that one day in the week is better than the others and should be set apart for religious purposes; that it should be considered holy; that no useful work should be done on that day; that it should be given over to pious idleness and sad ceremonies connected with the worship of a supposed Being, seems to have been originated by the Jews.

According to the Old Testament, the Sabbath was marvelously sacred for two reasons; the first being, that Jehovah created the universe in six days and rested on the seventh: and the second, because the Jews had been delivered from the Egyptians.

The first of these reasons we now know to be false; and the second has nothing, so far as we are concerned, to do with the question.

There is no reason for our keeping the seventh day because the Hebrews were delivered from the Egyptians.

The Sabbath was a Jewish institution, and, according to the Bible, only the Jews were commanded to keep that day. Jehovah said nothing to the Egyptians on that subject; nothing to the Philistines, nothing to the Gentiles.

The Jews kept that day with infinite strictness, and with them this space of time known as the Sabbath became so holy that he who violated it by working was put to death. Sabbath-breaking and murder were equal crimes. On the Sabbath the pious Jew would not build a fire in his house. He ate cold victuals and thanked God. The gates of the city were closed. No business was done, and the traveler who arrived at the city on that day remained outside until evening. If he happened to fall, he remained where he fell until the sun had gone done.

The early Christians did not hold the seventh day in such veneration. As a matter of fact, they ceased to regard it as holy, and changed the sacred day from the seventh to the first. This change was really made by Constantine, because the first day of the week was the Sunday of the Pagans; and this day had been given to pleasure and recreation and to religious ceremonies for many centuries.

After Constantine designated the first day to be kept and observed by Christians, our Sunday became the sacred time.

The early Christians, however, kept the day much as it had been kept by the Pagans. They attended church in the morning, and in the afternoon enjoyed themselves as best they could..

The Catholic Church fell in with the prevailing customs, and to accommodate itself to Pagan ways and superstitions, it agreed, as far as it could, with the ideas of the Pagan.

Up to the time of the Reformation, Sunday had been divided between the discharge of religious duties and recreation.

Luther did not believe in the sacredness of the Sabbath. After church he enjoyed himself by playing games, and wanted others to do the same.

Even John Calvin, whose view had been blurred by the “Five Points,” allowed the people to enjoy themselves on Sunday afternoon.

The reformers on the continent never had the Jewish idea of the sacredness of the Sabbath.

In Geneva, Germany and France, all kinds of innocent amusement were allowed on that day; and I believe the same was true of Holland.

But in Scotland the Jewish idea was adopted to the fullest extent. There Sabbath-breaking was one of the blackest and one of the most terrible crimes. Nothing was considered quite as sacred as the Sabbath.

The Scotch went so far as to take the ground that it was wrong to save people who were drowning on Sunday, the drowning being a punishment inflicted by God. Upon the question of keeping the Sabbath most of the Scottish people became insane.

The same notions about the holy day were adopted by the Dissenters in England, and it became the principal tenet in their creed.

The Puritans and Pilgrims were substantially crazy about the sacredness of Sunday. With them the first day of the week was set apart for preaching, praying, attending church, reading the Bible and studying the catechism. Walking, riding, playing on musical instruments, boating, swimming and courting, were all crimes.

No one had the right to be happy on that blessed day. It was a time of gloom, sacred, solemn and religiously stupid.

They did their best to strip their religion of every redeeming feature. They hated art and music—everything calculated to produce joy. They despised everything except the Bible, the church, God, Sunday and the creed.

The influence of these people has been felt in every part of our country. The Sabbath superstition became almost universal. No laughter, no smiles on that day; no games, no recreation, no riding, no walking through the perfumed fields or by the winding streams or the shore of the sea. No communion with the subtile beauties of nature; no wandering in the woods with wife and children, no reading of poetry and fiction; nothing but solemnity and gloom, listening to sermons, thinking about sin, death, graves, coffins, shrouds, epitaphs and ceremonies and the marvelous truths of sectarian religion, and the weaknesses of those who were natural enough and sensible enough to enjoy themselves on the Sabbath day.

So universal became the Sabbath superstition that the Legislatures of all the States, or nearly all, passed laws to prevent work and enjoyment on that day, and declared all contracts void relating to business entered into on Sunday.

The Germans gave us the first valuable lesson on this subject. They came to this country in great numbers; they did not keep the American Sabbath. They listened to music and they drank beer on that holy day. They took their wives and children with them and enjoyed themselves; yet they were good, kind, industrious people. They paid their debts and their credit was the best.

Our people saw that men could be good and women virtuous without “keeping” the Sabbath.

This did us great good, and changed the opinions of hundreds of thousands of Americans.

But the churches insisted on the old way. Gradually our people began to appreciate the fact that one-seventh of the time was being stolen by superstition. They began to ask for the opening of libraries, for music in the parks and to be allowed to visit museums and public places on the Sabbath.

In several States these demands were granted, and the privileges have never been abused. The people were orderly, polite to officials and to each other.

In 1876, when the Centennial was held at Philadelphia, the Sabbatarians had control. Philadelphia was a Sunday city, and so the gates of the Centennial were closed on that day.

This was in Philadelphia where the Sabbath superstition had been so virulent that chains had been put across the streets to prevent stages and carriages from passing at that holy time.

At that time millions of Americans felt that a great wrong was done by closing the Centennial to the laboring people; but the managers—most of them being politicians—took care of themselves and kept the gates closed.

In 1876 the Sabbatarians triumphed, and when it was determined to hold a world’s fair at Chicago they made up their minds that no one should look upon the world’s wonders on the Sabbath day.

To accomplish this pious and foolish purpose committees were appointed all over the country; money was raised to make a campaign; persons were employed to go about and arouse the enthusiasm of religious people; petitions by the thousand were sent to Congress and to the officers of the World’s Fair, signed by thousands of people who never saw them; resolutions were passed in favor of Sunday closing by conventions, presbyteries, councils and associations. Lobbyists were employed to influence members of Congress. Great bodies of Christians threatened to boycott the fair and yet the World’s Fair is open on Sunday.

What is the meaning of this? Let me tell you. It means that in this country the Scotch New England Sabbath has ceased to be; it means that it is dead. The last great effort for its salvation has been put forth, and has failed. It belonged to the creed of Jonathan Edwards and the belief of the witch-burners, and in this age it is out of place.

There was a time when the minister and priest were regarded as the foundation of wisdom; when information came from the altar, from the pulpit; and when the sheep were the property of the shepherd.

That day in intelligent communities has passed. We no longer go to the minister or the church for information. The orthodox minister is losing his power, and the Sabbath is now regarded as a day of rest, of recreation and of pleasure.

The church must keep up with the people. The minister must take another step. The multitude care but little about controversies in churches, but they do care about the practical questions that directly affect their daily lives.

Must we waste one day in seven; must we make ourselves unhappy or melancholy one-seventh of the time?

These are important questions and for many years the church in our country has answered them both in the affirmative, and a vast number of people not Christians have also said “yes” because they wanted votes, or because they feared to incite the hatred of the church.

Now in this year of 1893 a World’s Fair answered this question in the negative, and a large majority of the citizens of the Republic say that the officers of the Fair have done right.

This marks an epoch in the history of the Sabbath. It is to be sacred in a religious sense in this country no longer. Henceforth in the United States the Sabbath is for the use of man.

Many of those who labored for the closing of the Fair on Sunday took the ground that if the gates were opened, God would visit this nation with famine, flood and fire.

It hardly seems possible that God will destroy thousands of women and children who had nothing to do with the opening of the Fair; still, if he is the same God described in the Christian Bible, he may destroy our babes as he did those of the Egyptians. It is a little hard to tell in advance what a God of that kind will do.

It was believed for many centuries that God punished the Sabbath-breaking individual and the Sabbath-breaking nation. Of course facts never had anything to do with this belief, and the prophecies of the pulpit were never fulfilled. People who were drowned on Sunday, according to the church, lost their lives by the will of God. Those drowned on other days were the victims of storm or accident. The nations that kept the Sabbath were no more prosperous than those that broke the sacred day. Certainly France is as prosperous as Scotland.

Let us hope, however, that these zealous gentlemen who have predicted calamities were mistaken; let us be glad that hundreds of thousands of workingmen and women will be delighted and refined by looking at the statues, the paintings, the machinery, and the countless articles of use and beauty gathered together at the great Fair, and let us be glad that on the one day that they can spare from toil, the gates will be open to them.


TWO articles have recently appeared attacking the motives of George Jacob Holyoake. He is spoken of as a man governed by a desire to please the rich and powerful, as one afraid of public opinion and who in the perilous hour denies or conceals his convictions.

In these attacks there is not one word of truth. They are based upon mistakes and misconceptions.

There is not in this world a nobler, braver man. In England he has done more for the great cause of intellectual liberty than any other man of this generation. He has done more for the poor, for the children of toil, for the homeless and wretched than any other living man. He has attacked all abuses, all tyranny and all forms of hypocrisy. His weapons have been reason, logic, facts, kindness, and above all, example. He has lived his creed. He has won the admiration and respect of his bitterest antagonists. He has the simplicity of childhood, the enthusiasm of youth and the wisdom of age. He is not abusive, but he is clear and conclusive.. He is intense without violence—firm without anger. He has the strength of perfect kindness. He does not hate—he pities. He does not attack men and women, but dogmas and creeds. And he does not attack them to get the better of people, but to enable people to get the better of them. He gives the light he has. He shares his intellectual wealth with the orthodox poor. He assists without insulting, guides without arrogance, and enlightens without outrage. Besides, he is eminent for the exercise of plain common sense. He knows that there are wrongs besides those born of superstition—that people are not necessarily happy because they have renounced the Thirty-nine Articles—and that the priest is not the only enemy of mankind. He has for forty years been preaching and practicing industry, economy, self-reliance, and kindness. He has done all within his power to give the workingman a better home, better food, better wages, and better opportunities for the education of his children. He has demonstrated the success of co-operation—of intelligent combination for the common good. As a rule, his methods have been perfectly legal. In some instances he has knowingly violated the law, and did so with the intention to take the consequences. He would neither ask nor accept a pardon, because to receive a pardon carries with it the implied promise to keep the law, and an admission that you were in the wrong. He would not agree to desist from doing what he believed ought to be done, neither would he stain his past to brighten his future, nor imprison his soul to free his body. He has that happy mingling of gentleness and firmness found only in the highest type of moral heroes. He is an absolutely just man, and will never do an act that he would condemn in another. He admits that the most bigoted churchman has a perfect right to express his opinions not only, but that he must be met with argument couched in kind and candid terms. Mr. Holyoake is not only the enemy of a theological hierarchy, but he is also opposed to mental mobs. He will not use the bludgeon of epithet.

Perfect fairness is regarded by many as weakness. Some people have altogether more confidence in their beliefs than in their own arguments. They resort to assertion. If what they assert be denied, the “debate” becomes a question of veracity. On both sides of most questions there are plenty of persons who imagine that logic dwells only in adjectives, and that to speak kindly of an opponent is a virtual surrender.

Mr. Holyoake attacks the church because it has been, is, and ever will be the enemy of mental freedom, but he does not wish to deprive the church even of its freedom to express its opinion against freedom. He is true to his own creed, knowing that when we have freedom we can take care of all its enemies.

In one of the articles to which I have referred it is charged that Mr. Holyoake refused to sign a petition for the pardon of persons convicted of blasphemy. If this is true, he undoubtedly had a reason satisfactory to himself. You will find that his action, or his refusal to act, rests upon a principle that he would not violate in his own behalf.

Why should we suspect the motives of this man who has given his life for the good of others? I know of no one who is his mental or moral superior. He is the most disinterested of men. His name is a synonym of candor. He is a natural logician—an intellectual marksman. Like an unerring arrow his thought flies to the heart and center. He is governed by principle, and makes no exception in his own favor. He is intellectually honest. He shows you the cracks and flaws in his own wares. He calls attention to the open joints and to the weakest links. He does not want a victory for himself, but for truth. He wishes to expose and oppose, not men, but error. He is blessed with that cloudless mental vision that appearances cannot deceive, that interest cannot darken, and that even ingratitude cannot blur. Friends cannot induce and enemies cannot drive this man to do an act that his heart and brain would not applaud. That such a character was formed without the aid of the church, without the hope of harp or fear of flame, is a demonstration against the necessity of superstition.

Whoever is opposed to mental bondage, to the shackles wrought by cruelty and worn by fear, should be the friend of this heroic and unselfish man.

I know something of his life—something of what he has suffered—of what he has accomplished for his fellow-men. He has been maligned, imprisoned and impoverished. “He bore the heat and burden of the unregarded day” and “remembered the misery of the many.” For years his only recompense was ingratitude. At last he was understood. He was recognized as an earnest, honest, gifted, generous, sterling man, loving his country, sympathizing with the poor, honoring the useful, and holding in supreme abhorrence tyranny and falsehood in all their forms. The idea that this man could for a moment be controlled by any selfish motive, by the hope of preferment, by the fear of losing a supposed annuity, is simply absurd. The authors of these attacks are not acquainted with Mr. Holyoake. Whoever dislikes him does not know him.

Read his “Trial of Theism”—his history of “Co-operation in England”—if you wish to know his heart—to discover the motives of his life—the depth and tenderness of his sympathy—the nobleness of his nature—the subtlety of his thought—the beauty of his spirit—the force and volume of his brain—the extent of his information—his candor, his kindness, his genius, and the perfect integrity of his stainless soul.

There is no man for whom I have greater respect, greater reverence, greater love, than George Jacob Holyoake.—

August 8, 1883.


     * This was the first tribute ever delivered by Colonel

Ingersoll at a grave. Mr. Parker himself was an Agnostic,

was the father of Mrs. Ingersoll, and was always a devoted

friend and admirer of the Colonel even before the latter’s

marriage with his daughter.


Peoria, Ill., May 24, 1876.


FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS: To fulfill a promise made many years ago, I wish to say a word.

He whom we are about to lay in the earth, was gentle, kind and loving in his life. He was ambitious only to live with those he loved. He was hospitable, generous, and sincere. He loved his friends, and the friends of his friends. He returned good for good. He lived the life of a child, and died without leaving in the memory of his family the record of an unkind act. Without assurance, and without fear, we give him back to Nature, the source and mother of us all.

With morn, with noon, with night; with changing clouds and changeless stars; with grass and trees and birds, with leaf and bud, with flower and blossoming vine,—with all the sweet influences of nature, we leave our dead.

Husband, father, friend, farewell.


Washington, D. C., May 31, 1879.

     * The funeral of the Hon. E. C. Ingersoll took place

yesterday afternoon at four o’clock, from his late

residence, 1403 K Street The only ceremony at the house,

other than the viewing of the remains, was a most affecting

pathetic, and touching address by Col. Robert G. ingersoll,

brother of the deceased. Not only the speaker, but every one

of his hearers were deeply affected. When he began to read

his eloquent characterization of the dead man his eyes at

once filled with tears. He tried to hide them, but he could

not do it, and finally he bowed his head upon the dead man’s

coffin in uncontrollable grief It was only after some delay,

and the greatest efforts a self-mastery, that Colonel

Ingersoll was able to finish reading his address. When he

had ceased speaking, the members of the bereaved family

approached the casket and looked upon the form which it

contained, for the last time. The scene was heartrending.

The devotion of all connected with the household excited

the sympathy of all and there was not a dry eye to be seen.

The pall-bearers—Senator William B. Allison, Senator James

G. Blaine, Senator David Davis, Senator Daniel W Voorhees.

Representative James A. Garfield, Senator A. S Paddock,

Representative Thomas Q. Boyd of Illinois, the Hon. Ward H.

Lermon, ex-Congressman Jere Wilson, and Representative Adlai

E. Stevenson of Illinois—then bore the remains to the

hearse, and the lengthy cortege proceeded to the Oak Hill

Cemetery, where the remains were interred, in the presence

of the family and friends, without further ceremony.—

National Republican, Washington, D. C., June 3, 1879.


DEAR FRIENDS: I am going to do that which the dead oft promised he would do for me.

The loved and loving brother, husband, father, friend, died where manhood’s morning almost touches noon, and while the shadows still were falling toward the west.

He had not passed on life’s highway the stone that marks the highest point; but being weary for a moment, he lay down by the wayside, and using his burden for a pillow, fell into that dreamless sleep that kisses down his eyelids still. While yet in love with life and raptured with the world, he passed to silence and pathetic dust.

Yet, after all, it may be best, just in the happiest, sunniest hour of all the voyage, while eager winds are kissing every sail, to dash against the unseen rock, and in an instant hear the billows roar above a sunken ship. For whether in mid-sea or ‘mong the breakers of the farther shore, a wreck at last must mark the end of each and all. And every life, no matter if its every hour is rich with love and every moment jeweled with a joy, will, at its close, become a tragedy as sad and deep and dark as can be woven of the warp and woof of mystery and death.

This brave and tender man in every storm of life was oak and rock; but in the sunshine he was vine and flower. He was the friend of all heroic souls. He climbed the heights, and left all superstitions far below, while on his forehead fell the golden dawning of the grander day.

He loved the beautiful, and was with color, form, and music touched to tears. He sided with the weak, the poor, and wronged, and lovingly gave alms. With loyal heart and with the purest hands he faithfully discharged all public trusts.

He was a worshiper of liberty, a friend of the oppressed. A thousand times I have heard him quote these words: “For Justice all place a temple, and all season, summer.” He believed that happiness is the only good, reason the only torch, justice the only worship, humanity the only religion, and love the only priest. He added to the sum of human joy; and were every one to whom he did some loving service to bring a blossom to his grave, he would sleep tonight beneath a wilderness of flowers.

Life is a narrow vale between the cold and barren peaks of two eternities. We strive in vain to look beyond the heights. We cry aloud, and the only answer is the echo of our wailing cry. From the voiceless lips of the unreplying dead there comes no word; but in the night of death hope sees a star and listening love can hear the rustle of a wing.

He who sleeps here, when dying, mistaking the approach of death for the return of health, whispered with his latest breath, “I am better now.” Let us believe, in spite of doubts and dogmas, of fears and tears, that these dear words are true of all the countless dead.

The record of a generous life runs like a vine around the memory of our dead, and every sweet, unselfish act is now a perfumed flower.

And now, to you, who have been chosen, from among the many men he loved, to do the last sad office for the dead, we give his sacred dust.

Speech cannot contain our love. There was, there is, no gentler, stronger, manlier man.


Washington, D. C. July 13, 1879.

UPON the grave of the Reverend Alexander Clark I wish to place one flower. Utterly destitute of cold, dogmatic pride, that often passes for the love of God; without the arrogance of the “elect;” simple, free, and kind—this earnest man made me his friend by being mine. I forgot that he was a Christian, and he seemed to forget that I was not, while each remembered that the other was at least a man.

Frank, candid, and sincere, he practiced what he preached, and looked with the holy eyes of charity upon the failings and mistakes of men. He believed in the power of kindness, and spanned with divine sympathy the hideous gulf that separates the fallen from the pure.

Giving freely to others the rights that he claimed for himself, it never occurred to him that his God hated a brave and honest unbeliever. He remembered that even an Infidel had rights that love respects; that hatred has no saving power, and that in order to be a Christian it is not necessary to become less than a human being. He knew that no one can be maligned into kindness; that epithets cannot convince; that curses are not arguments, and that the finger of scorn never points toward heaven. With the generosity of an honest man, he accorded to all the fullest liberty of thought, knowing, as he did, that in the realm of mind a chain is but a curse.

For this man I felt the greatest possible regard. In spite of the taunts and jeers of his brethren, he publicly proclaimed that he would treat Infidels with fairness and respect; that he would endeavor to convince them by argument and win them with love. He insisted that the God he worshiped loved the well-being even of an Atheist. In this grand position he stood almost alone. Tender, just, and loving where others were harsh, vindictive, and cruel, he challenged the admiration of every honest man. A few more such clergymen might drive calumny from the lips of faith and render the pulpit worthy of esteem.

The heartiness and kindness with which this generous man treated me can never be excelled. He admitted that I had not lost, and could not lose, a single right by the expression of my honest thought. Neither did he believe that a servant could win the respect of a generous master by persecuting and maligning those whom the master would willingly forgive.

While this good man was living, his brethren blamed him for having treated me with fairness. But, I trust, now that he has left the shore touched by the mysterious sea that never yet has borne, on any wave, the image of a homeward sail, this crime will be forgiven him by those who still remain to preach the love of God.

His sympathies were not confined within the prison, of a creed, but ran out and over the walls like vines, hiding the cruel rocks and rusted bars with leaf and flower. He could not echo with his heart the fiendish sentence of eternal fire. In spite of book and creed, he read “between the lines” the words of tenderness and love, with promises for all the world.. Above, beyond, the dogmas of his church—humane even to the verge of heresy—causing some to doubt his love of God because he failed to hate his unbelieving fellow-men, he labored for the welfare of mankind and to his work gave up his life with all his heart.


Washington, D. C., January 8, 1882.

MY FRIENDS: I know how vain it is to gild a grief with words, and yet I wish to take from every grave its fear. Here in this world, where life and death are equal kings, all should be brave enough to meet what all the dead have met. The future has been filled with fear, stained and polluted by the heartless past. From the wondrous tree of life the buds and blossoms fall with ripened fruit, and in the common bed of earth, patriarchs and babes sleep side by side.

Why should we fear that which will come to all that is? We cannot tell, we do not know, which is the greater blessing—life or death. We cannot say that death is not a good. We do not know whether the grave is the end of this life, or the door of another, or whether the night here is not somewhere else a dawn. Neither can we tell which is the more fortunate—the child dying in its mother’s arms, before its lips have learned to form a word, or he who journeys all the length of life’s uneven road, painfully taking the last slow steps with staff and crutch.

Every cradle asks us “Whence?” and every coffin “Whither?” The poor barbarian, weeping above his dead, can answer these questions just as well as the robed priest of the most authentic creed. The tearful ignorance of the one, is as consoling as the learned and unmeaning words of the other. No man, standing where the horizon of a life has touched a grave, has any right to prophesy a future filled with pain and tears.

May be that death gives all there is of worth to life. If those we press and strain within our arms could never die, perhaps that love would wither from the earth. May be this common fate treads from out the paths between our hearts the weeds of selfishness and hate. And I had rather live and love where death is king, than have eternal life where love is not. Another life is nought, unless we know and love again the ones who love us here.

They who stand with breaking hearts around this little grave, need have no fear. The larger and the nobler faith in all that is, and is to be, tells us that death, even at its worst, is only perfect rest. We know that through the common wants of life—the needs and duties of each hour—their grief will lessen day by day, until at last this grave will be to them a place of rest and peace—almost of joy. There is for them this consolation: The dead do not suffer. If they live again, their lives will surely be as good as ours. We have no fear. We are all children of the same mother, and the same fate awaits us all. We, too, have our religion, and it is this: Help for the living—Hope for the dead.


Washington, D. C., April 15, 1883.

MY FRIENDS: Again we are face to face with the great mystery that shrouds this world. We question, but there is no reply. Out on the wide waste seas, there drifts no spar. Over the desert of death the sphinx gazes forever, but never speaks.

In the very May of life another heart has ceased to beat. Night has fallen upon noon. But he lived, he loved, he was loved. Wife and children pressed their kisses on his lips. This is enough. The longest life contains no more. This fills the vase of joy.

He who lies here, clothed with the perfect peace of death, was a kind and loving husband, a good father, a generous neighbor, an honest man,—and these words build a monument of glory above the humblest grave. He was always a child, sincere and frank, as full of hope as Spring. He divided all time into to-day and to-morrow. To-morrow was without a cloud, and of to-morrow he borrowed sunshine for to-day. He was my friend. He will remain so. The living oft become estranged; the dead are true. He was not a Christian. In the Eden of his hope there did not crawl and coil the serpent of eternal pain. In many languages he sought the thoughts of men, and for himself he solved the problems of the world. He accepted the philosophy of Auguste Comte. Humanity was his God; the human race was his Supreme Being. In that Supreme Being he put his trust. He believed that we are indebted for what we enjoy to the labor, the self-denial, the heroism of the human race, and that as we have plucked the fruit of what others planted, we in thankfulness should plant for others yet to be.

With him immortality was the eternal consequences of his own acts. He believed that every pure thought, every disinterested deed, hastens the harvest of universal good. This is a religion that enriches poverty; that enables us to bear the sorrows of the saddest life; that peoples even solitude with the happy millions yet to live,—a religion born not of selfishness and fear, but of love, of gratitude, and hope,—a religion that digs wells to slake the thirst of others, and gladly bears the burdens of the unborn.

But in the presence of death, how beliefs and dogmas wither and decay! How loving words and deeds burst into blossom! Pluck from the tree of any life these flowers, and there remain but the barren thorns of bigotry and creed.

All wish for happiness beyond this life. All hope to meet again the loved and lost. In every heart there grows this sacred flower. Immortality is a word that Hope through all the ages has been whispering to Love. The miracle of thought we cannot understand. The mystery of life and death we cannot comprehend. This chaos called the world has never been explained. The golden bridge of life from gloom emerges, and on shadow rests. Beyond this we do not know. Fate is speechless, destiny is dumb, and the secret of the future has never yet been told. We love; we wait; we hope. The more we love, the more we fear. Upon the tenderest heart the deepest shadows fall. All paths, whether filled with thorns or flowers, end here. Here success and failure are the same. The rag of Wretchedness and the purple robe of power all difference and distinction lose in this democracy of death. Character survives; goodness lives; love is immortal.

And yet to all a time may come when the fevered lips of life will long for the cool, delicious kiss of death—when tired of the dust and glare of day we all shall hear with joy the rustling garments of the night.

What can we say of death? What can we say of the dead? Where they have gone, reason cannot go, and from thence revelation has not come. But let us believe that over the cradle Nature bends and smiles, and lovingly above the dead in benediction holds her outstretched hands.


New York. December 19, 1885.

ANOTHER hero has fallen asleep—one who enriched the world with an honest life.

Elizur Wright was one of the Titans who attacked the monsters, the Gods, of his time—one of the few whose confidence in liberty was never shaken, and who, with undimmed eyes, saw the atrocities and barbarisms of his day and the glories of the future.

When New York was degraded enough to mob Arthur Tappan, the noblest of her citizens; when Boston was sufficiently infamous to howl and hoot at Harriet Martineau, the grandest Englishwoman that ever touched our soil; when the North was dominated by theology and trade, by piety and piracy; when we received our morals from merchants, and made merchandise of our morals, Elizur Wright held principle above profit, and preserved his manhood at the peril of his life.

When the rich, the cultured, and the respectable,—when church members and ministers, who had been “called” to preach the “glad tidings,” and when statesmen like Webster joined with bloodhounds, and in the name of God hunted men and mothers, this man rescued the fugitives and gave asylum to the oppressed.

During those infamous years—years of cruelty and national degradation—years of hypocrisy and greed and meanness beneath the reach of any English word, Elizur Wright became acquainted with the orthodox church. He found that a majority of Christians were willing to enslave men and women for whom they said that Christ had died—that they would steal the babe of a Christian mother, although they believed that the mother would be their equal in heaven forever. He found that those who loved their enemies would enslave their friends—that people who when smitten on one cheek turned the other, were ready, willing and anxious to mob and murder those who simply said: “The laborer is worthy of his hire.”

In those days the church was in favor of slavery, not only of the body but of the mind. According to the creeds, God himself was an infinite master and all his children serfs. He ruled with whip and chain, with pestilence and fire. Devils were his bloodhounds, and hell his place of eternal torture.

Elizur Wright said to himself, why should we take chains from bodies and enslave minds—why fight to free the cage and leave the bird a prisoner? He became an enemy of orthodox religion—that is to say, a friend of intellectual liberty.

He lived to see the destruction of legalized larceny; to read the Proclamation of Emancipation; to see a country without a slave, a flag without a stain. He lived long enough to reap the reward for having been an honest man; long enough for his “disgrace” to become a crown of glory; long enough to see his views adopted and his course applauded by the civilized world; long enough for the hated word “abolitionist” to become a title of nobility, a certificate of manhood, courage and true patriotism.

Only a few years ago, the heretic was regarded as an enemy of the human race. The man who denied the inspiration of the Jewish Scriptures was looked upon as a moral leper, and the Atheist as the worst of criminals. Even in that day, Elizur Wright was grand enough to speak his honest thought, to deny the inspiration of the Bible; brave enough to defy the God of the orthodox church—the Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Eternal Jailer, the Everlasting Inquisitor.

He contended that a good God would not have upheld slavery and polygamy; that a loving Father would not assist some of his children to enslave or exterminate their brethren; that an infinite being would not be unjust, irritable, jealous, revengeful, ignorant, and cruel.

And it was his great good fortune to live long enough to find the intellectual world on his side; long enough to know that the greatest’ naturalists, philosophers, and scientists agreed with him; long enough to see certain words change places, so that “heretic” was honorable and “orthodox” an epithet. To-day, the heretic is known to be a man of principle and courage—one blest with enough mental independence to tell his thought. To-day, the thoroughly orthodox means the thoroughly stupid.

Only a few years ago it was taken for granted that an “unbeliever” could not be a moral man; that one who disputed the inspiration of the legends of Judea could not be sympathetic and humane, and could not really love his fellow-men. Had we no other evidence upon this subject, the noble life of Elizur Wright would demonstrate the utter baselessness of these views.

His life was spent in doing good—in attacking the hurtful, in defending what he believed to be the truth. Generous beyond his means; helping others to help themselves; always hopeful, busy, just, cheerful; filled with the spirit of reform; a model citizen—always thinking of the public good, devising ways and means to save something for posterity, feeling that what he had he held in trust; loving Nature, familiar with the poetic side of things, touched to enthusiasm by the beautiful thought, the brave word, and the generous deed; friendly in manner, candid and kind in speech, modest but persistent; enjoying leisure as only the industrious can; loving and gentle in his family; hospitable,—judging men and women regardless of wealth, position or public clamor; physically fearless, intellectually honest, thoroughly informed; unselfish, sincere, and reliable as the attraction of gravitation. Such was Elizur Wright,—one of the staunchest soldiers that ever faced and braved for freedom’s sake the wrath and scorn and lies of place and power.

A few days ago I met this genuine man. His interest in all human things was just as deep and keen, his hatred of oppression, his love of freedom, just as intense, just as fervid, as on the day I met him first. True, his body was old, but his mind was young, and his heart, like a spring in the desert, bubbled over as joyously as though it had the secret of eternal youth. But it has ceased to beat, and the mysterious veil that hangs where sight and blindness are the same—the veil that revelation has not drawn aside—that science cannot lift, has fallen once again between the living and the dead.

And yet we hope and dream. May be the longing for another life is but the prophecy forever warm from Nature’s lips, that love, disguised as death, alone fulfills. We cannot tell. And yet perhaps this Hope is but an antic, following the fortunes of an uncrowned king, beguiling grief with jest and satisfying loss with pictured gain. We do not know.

But from the Christian’s cruel hell, and from his heaven more heartless still, the free and noble soul, if forced to choose, should loathing turn, and cling with rapture to the thought of endless sleep.

But this we know: good deeds are never childless. A noble life is never lost. A virtuous action does not die. Elizur Wright scattered with generous hand the priceless seeds, and we shall reap the golden grain. His words and acts are ours, and all he nobly did is living still.

Farewell, brave soul! Upon thy grave I lay this tribute of respect and love. When last our hands were joined, I said these parting words: “Long life!” And I repeat them now.



New York, Dec, 16, 1887.

MY FRIENDS: Again we stand in the shadow of the great mystery—a shadow as deep and dark as when the tears of the first mother fell upon the pallid face of her lifeless babe—a mystery that has never yet been solved.

We have met in the presence of the sacred dead, to speak a word of praise, of hope, of consolation.

Another life of love is now a blessed memory—a lingering strain of music.

The loving daughter, the pure and consecrated wife, the sincere friend, who with tender faithfulness discharged the duties of a life, has reached her journey’s end.

A braver, a more serene, a more chivalric spirit—clasping the loved and by them clasped—never passed from life to enrich the realm of death. No field of war ever witnessed greater fortitude, more perfect, smiling courage, than this poor, weak and helpless woman displayed upon the bed of pain and death.

Her life was gentle and her death sublime. She loved the good and all the good loved her.

There is this consolation: she can never suffer more; never feel again the chill of death; never part again from those she loves. Her heart can break no more. She has shed her last tear, and upon her stainless brow has been set the wondrous seal of everlasting peace.

When the Angel of Death—the masked and voiceless—enters the door of home, there come with her all the daughters of Compassion, and of these Love and Hope remain forever.

You are about to take this dear dust home—to the home of her girlhood, and to the place that was once my home. You will lay her with neighbors whom I have loved, and who are now at rest. You will lay her where my father sleeps.

“Lay her i’ the earth,

And from her fair and unpolluted flesh

May violets spring.”

I never knew, I never met, a braver spirit than the one that once inhabited this silent form of dreamless clay.


New York, June 26,1887.

HENRY WARD BEECHER was born in a Puritan penitentiary, of which his father was one of the wardens—a prison with very narrow and closely-grated windows. Under its walls were the rayless, hopeless and measureless dungeons of the damned, and on its roof fell the shadow of God’s eternal frown. In this prison the creed and catechism were primers for children, and from a pure sense of duty their loving hearts were stained and scarred with the religion of John Calvin.

In those days the home of an orthodox minister was an inquisition in which babes were tortured for the good of their souls. Children then, as now, rebelled against the infamous absurdities and cruelties of the creed. No Calvinist was ever able, unless with blows, to answer the questions of his child. Children were raised in what was called “the nurture and admonition of the Lord”—that is to say, their wills were broken or subdued, their natures were deformed and dwarfed, their desires defeated or destroyed, and their development arrested or perverted. Life was robbed of its Spring, its Summer and its Autumn. Children stepped from the cradle into the snow. No laughter, no sunshine, no joyous, free, unburdened days. God, an infinite detective, watched them from above, and Satan, with malicious leer, was waiting for their souls below. Between these monsters life was passed. Infinite consequences were predicated of the smallest action, and a burden greater than a God could bear was placed upon the heart and brain of every child. To think, to ask questions, to doubt, to investigate, were acts of rebellion. To express pity for the lost, writhing in the dungeons below, was simply to give evidence that the enemy of souls had been at work within their hearts.

Among all the religions of this world—from the creed of cannibals who devoured flesh, to that of Calvinists who polluted souls—there is none, there has been none, there will be none, more utterly heartless and inhuman than was the orthodox Congregationalism of New England in the year of grace 1813. It despised every natural joy, hated pictures, abhorred statues as lewd and lustful things, execrated music, regarded nature as fallen and corrupt, man as totally depraved and woman as somewhat worse. The theatre was the vestibule of perdition, actors the servants of Satan, and Shakespeare a trifling wretch whose words were seeds of death. And yet the virtues found a welcome, cordial and sincere; duty was done as understood; obligations were discharged; truth was told; self-denial was practiced for the sake of others, and many hearts were good and true in spite of book and creed.

In this atmosphere of theological miasma, in this hideous dream of superstition, in this penitentiary, moral and austere, this babe first saw the imprisoned gloom. The natural desires ungratified, the laughter suppressed, the logic brow-beaten by authority, the humor frozen by fear—of many generations—were in this child, a child destined to rend and wreck the prison’s walls.

Through the grated windows of his cell, this child, this boy, this man, caught glimpses of the outer world, of fields and skies. New thoughts were in his brain, new hopes within his heart. Another heaven bent above his life. There came a revelation of the beautiful and real.

Theology grew mean and small. Nature wooed and won and saved this mighty soul.

Her countless hands were sowing seeds within his tropic brain. All sights and sounds—all colors, forms and fragments—were stored within the treasury of his mind. His thoughts were moulded by the graceful curves of streams, by winding paths in woods, the charm of quiet country roads, and lanes grown indistinct with weeds and grass—by vines that cling and hide with leaf and flower the crumbling wall’s decay—by cattle standing in the summer pools like statues of content.

There was within his words the subtle spirit of the season’s change—of everything that is, of everything that lies between the slumbering seeds that, half awakened by the April rain, have dreams of heaven’s blue, and feel the amorous kisses of the sun, and that strange tomb wherein the alchemist doth give to death’s cold dust the throb and thrill of life again. He saw with loving eyes the willows of the meadow-streams grow red beneath the glance of Spring—the grass along the marsh’s edge—the stir of life beneath the withered leaves—the moss below the drip of snow—the flowers that give their bosoms to the first south wind that wooes—the sad and timid violets that only bear the gaze of love from eyes half closed—the ferns, where fancy gives a thousand forms with but a single plan—the green and sunny slopes enriched with daisy’s silver and the cowslip’s gold.

As in the leafless woods some tree, aflame with life, stands like a rapt poet in the heedless crowd, so stood this man among his fellow-men.

All there is of leaf and bud, of flower and fruit, of painted insect life, and all the winged and happy children of the air that Summer holds beneath her dome of blue, were known and loved by him. He loved the yellow Autumn fields, the golden stacks, the happy homes of men, the orchard’s bending boughs, the sumach’s flags of flame, the maples with transfigured leaves, the tender yellow of the beech, the wondrous harmonies of brown and gold—the vines where hang the clustered spheres of wit and mirth. He loved the winter days, the whirl and drift of snow—all forms of frost—the rage and fury of the storm, when in the forest, desolate and stripped, the brave old pine towers green and grand—a prophecy of Spring. He heard the rhythmic sounds of Nature’s busy strife, the hum of bees, the songs of birds, the eagle’s cry, the murmur of the streams, the sighs and lamentations of the winds, and all the voices of the sea. He loved the shores, the vales, the crags and cliffs, the city’s busy streets, the introspective, silent plain, the solemn splendors of the night, the silver sea of dawn, and evening’s clouds of molten gold. The love of nature freed this loving man.

One by one the fetters fell; the gratings disappeared, the sunshine smote the roof, and on the floors of stone, light streamed from open doors. He realized the darkness and despair, the cruelty and hate, the starless blackness of the old, malignant creed. The flower of pity grew and blossomed in his heart. The selfish “consolation” filled his eyes with tears. He saw that what is called the Christian’s hope is, that, among the countless billions wrecked and lost, a meagre few perhaps may reach the eternal shore—a hope that, like the desert rain, gives neither leaf nor bud—a hope that gives no joy, no peace, to any great and loving soul. It is the dust on which the serpent feeds that coils in heartless breasts.

Day by day the wrath and vengeance faded from the sky—the Jewish God grew vague and dint—the threats of torture and eternal pain grew vulgar and absurd, and all the miracles seemed strangely out of place. They clad the Infinite in motley garb, and gave to aureoled heads the cap and bells.

Touched by the pathos of all human life, knowing the shadows that fall on every heart—the thorns in every path, the sighs, the sorrows, and the tears that lie between a mother’s arms and death’s embrace—this great and gifted man denounced, denied, and damned with all his heart the fanged and frightful dogma that souls were made to feed the eternal hunger—ravenous as famine—of a God’s revenge.

Take out this fearful, fiendish, heartless lie—compared with which all other lies are true—and the great arch of orthodox religion crumbling falls.

To the average man the Christian hell and heaven are only words. He has no scope of thought. He lives but in a dim, impoverished now. To him the past is dead—the future still unborn. He occupies with downcast eyes that narrow line of barren, shifting sand that lies between the flowing seas. But Genius knows all time. For him the dead all live and breathe, and act their countless parts again. All human life is in his now, and every moment feels the thrill of all to be.

No one can overestimate the good accomplished by this marvelous, many-sided man. He helped to slay the heart-devouring monster of the Christian world. He tried to civilize the church, to humanize the creeds, to soften pious breasts of stone, to take the fear from mothers’ hearts, the chains of creed from every brain, to put the star of hope in every sky and over every grave. Attacked on every side, maligned by those who preached the law of love, he wavered not, but fought whole-hearted to the end.

Obstruction is but virtue’s foil. From thwarted light leaps color’s flame. The stream impeded has a song.

He passed from harsh and cruel creeds to that serene philosophy that has no place for pride or hate, that threatens no revenge, that looks on sin as stumblings of the blind and pities those who fall, knowing that in the souls of all there is a sacred yearning for the light. He ceased to think of man as something thrust upon the world—an exile from some other sphere. He felt at last that men are part of Nature’s self—kindred of all life—the gradual growth of countless years; that all the sacred books were helps until outgrown, and all religions rough and devious paths that man has worn with weary feet in sad and painful search for truth and peace. To him these paths were wrong, and yet all gave the promise of success. He knew that all the streams, no matter how they wander, turn and curve amid the hills or rocks, or linger in the lakes and pools, must some time reach the sea. These views enlarged his soul and made him patient with the world, and while the wintry snows of age were falling on his head, Spring, with all her wealth of bloom, was in his heart.

The memory of this ample man is now a part of Nature’s wealth. He battled for the rights of men. His heart was with the slave. He stood against the selfish greed of millions banded to protect the pirate’s trade. His voice was for the right when freedom’s friends were few. He taught the church to think and doubt. He did not fear to stand alone. His brain took counsel of his heart. To every foe he offered reconciliation’s hand. He loved this land of ours, and added to its glory through the world. He was the greatest orator that stood within the pulpit’s narrow curve. He loved the liberty of speech. There was no trace of bigot in his blood. He was a brave and generous man.

With reverent hands, I place this tribute on his tomb.


     Delivered before the New YorkState Legislature, at Albany,

N. Y, May 9,1888.

ROSCOE CONKLING—a great man, an orator, a statesman, a lawyer, a distinguished citizen of the Republic, in the zenith of his fame and power has reached his journey’s end; and we are met, here in the city of his birth, to pay our tribute to his worth and work. He earned and held a proud position in the public thought. He stood for independence, for courage, and above all for absolute integrity, and his name was known and honored by many millions of his fellow-men.

The literature of many lands is rich with the tributes that gratitude, admiration and love have paid to the great and honored dead. These tributes disclose the character of nations, the ideals of the human race. In them we find the estimates of greatness—the deeds and lives that challenged praise and thrilled the hearts of men.

In the presence of death, the good man judges as he would be judged. He knows that men are only fragments—that the greatest walk in shadow, and that faults and failures mingle with the lives of all.

In the grave should be buried the prejudices and passions born of conflict. Charity should hold the scales in which are weighed the deeds of men. Peculiarities, traits born of locality and surroundings—these are but the dust of the race—these are accidents, drapery, clothes, fashions, that have nothing to do with the man except to hide his character. They are the clouds that cling to mountains. Time gives us clearer vision. That which was merely local fades away. The words of envy are forgotten, and all there is of sterling worth remains. He who was called a partisan is a patriot. The revolutionist and the outlaw are the founders of nations, and he who was regarded as a scheming, selfish politician becomes a statesman, a philosopher, whose words and deeds shed light.

Fortunate is that nation great enough to know the great.

When a great man dies—one who has nobly fought the battle of a life, who has been faithful to every trust, and has uttered his highest, noblest thought—one who has stood proudly by the right in spite of jeer and taunt, neither stopped by foe nor swerved by friend—in honoring him, in speaking words of praise and love above his dust, we pay a tribute to ourselves.

How poor this world would be without its graves, without the memories of its mighty dead. Only the voiceless speak forever.

Intelligence, integrity and courage are the great pillars that support the State.

Above all, the citizens of a free nation should honor the brave and independent man—the man of stainless integrity, of will and intellectual force. Such men are the Atlases on whose mighty shoulders rest the great fabric of the Republic. Flatterers, cringers, crawlers, time-servers are the dangerous citizens of a democracy. They who gain applause and power by pandering to the mistakes, the prejudices and passions of the multitude, are the enemies of liberty.

When the intelligent submit to the clamor of the many, anarchy begins and the Republic reaches the edge of chaos. Mediocrity, touched with ambition, flatters the base and calumniates the great, while the true patriot, who will do neither, is often sacrificed.

In a government of the people a leader should be a teacher—he should carry the torch of truth.

Most people are the slaves of habit—followers of custom—believers in the wisdom of the past—and were it not for brave and splendid souls, “the dust of antique time would lie unswept, and mountainous error be too highly heaped for truth to overpeer.” Custom is a prison, locked and barred by those who long ago were dust, the keys of which are in the keeping of the dead.

Nothing is grander than when a strong, intrepid man breaks chains, levels walls and breasts the many-headed mob like some great cliff that meets and mocks the innumerable billows of the sea.

The politician hastens to agree with the majority—insists that their prejudice is patriotism, that their ignorance is wisdom;—not that he loves them, but because he loves himself. The statesman, the real reformer, points out the mistakes of the multitude, attacks the prejudices of his countrymen, laughs at their follies, denounces their cruelties, enlightens and enlarges their minds and educates the conscience—not because he loves himself, but because he loves and serves the right and wishes to make his country great and free.

With him defeat is but a spur to further effort. He who refuses to stoop, who cannot be bribed by the promise of success, or the fear of failure—who walks the highway of the right, and in disaster stands erect, is the only victor. Nothing is more despicable than to reach fame by crawling,—position by cringing.

When real history shall be written by the truthful and the wise, these men, these kneelers at the shrines of chance and fraud, these brazen idols worshiped once as gods, will be the very food of scorn, while those who bore the burden of defeat, who earned and kept their self-respect, who would not bow to man or men for place or power, will wear upon their brows the laurel mingled with the oak.

Roscoe Conkling was a man of superb courage.

He not only acted without fear, but he had that fortitude of soul that bears the consequences of the course pursued without complaint. He was charged with being proud. The charge was true—he was proud. His knees were as inflexible as the “unwedgeable and gnarled oak,” but he was not vain. Vanity rests on the opinion of others—pride, on our own. The source of vanity is from without—of pride, from within. Vanity is a vane that turns, a willow that bends, with every breeze—pride is the oak that defies the storm. One is cloud—the other rock. One is weakness—the other strength.

This imperious man entered public life in the dawn of the reformation—at a time when the country needed men of pride, of principle and courage. The institution of slavery had poisoned all the springs of power. Before this crime ambition fell upon its knees,—politicians, judges, clergymen, and merchant-princes bowed low and humbly, with their hats in their hands. The real friend of man was denounced as the enemy of his country—the real enemy of the human race was called a statesman and a patriot. Slavery was the bond and pledge of peace, of union, and national greatness. The temple of American liberty was finished—the auction-block was the corner-stone.

It is hard to conceive of the utter demoralization, of the political blindness and immorality, of the patriotic dishonesty, of the cruelty and degradation of a people who supplemented the incomparable Declaration of Independence with the Fugitive Slave Law.

Think of the honored statesmen of that ignoble time who wallowed in this mire and who, decorated with dripping filth, received the plaudits of their fellow-men. The noble, the really patriotic, were the victims of mobs, and the shameless were clad in the robes of office.

But let us speak no word of blame—let us feel that each one acted according to his light—according to his darkness.

At last the conflict came. The hosts of light and darkness prepared to meet upon the fields of war. The question was presented: Shall the Republic be slave or free? The Republican party had triumphed at the polls. The greatest man in our history was President elect. The victors were appalled—they shrank from the great responsibility of success. In the presence of rebellion they hesitated—they offered to return the fruits of victory. Hoping to avert war they were willing that slavery should become immortal. An amendment to the Constitution was proposed, to the effect that no subsequent amendment should ever be made that in anyway should interfere with the right of man to steal his fellow-men.

This, the most marvelous proposition ever submitted to a Congress of civilized men, received in the House an overwhelming majority, and the necessary two-thirds in the Senate. The Republican party, in the moment of its triumph, deserted every principle for which it had so gallantly contended, and with the trembling hands of fear laid its convictions on the altar of compromise.

The Old Guard, numbering but sixty-five in the House, stood as firm as the three hundred at Thermopylae. Thad-deus Stevens—as maliciously right as any other man was ever wrong—refused to kneel. Owen Lovejoy, remembering his brother’s noble blood, refused to surrender, and on the edge of disunion, in the shadow of civil war, with the air filled with sounds of dreadful preparation, while the Republican party was retracing its steps, Roscoe Conkling voted No. This puts a wreath of glory on his tomb. From that vote to the last moment of his life he was a champion of equal rights, staunch and stalwart.

From that moment he stood in the front rank. He never wavered and he never swerved. By his devotion to principle—his courage, the splendor of his diction,—by his varied and profound knowledge, his conscientious devotion to the great cause, and by his intellectual scope and grasp, he won and held the admiration of his fellow-men.

Disasters in the field, reverses at the polls, did not and could not shake his courage or his faith. He knew the ghastly meaning of defeat. He knew that the great ship that slavery sought to strand and wreck was freighted with the world’s sublimest hope.

He battled for a nation’s life—for the rights of slaves—the dignity of labor, and the liberty of all. He guarded with a father’s care the rights of the hunted, the hated and despised. He attacked the savage statutes of the reconstructed States with a torrent of invective, scorn and execration. He was not satisfied until the freedman was an American Citizen—clothed with every civil right—until the Constitution was his shield—until the ballot was his sword.

And long after we are dead, the colored man in this and other lands will speak his name in reverence and love. Others wavered, but he stood firm; some were false, but he was proudly true—fearlessly faithful unto death.

He gladly, proudly grasped the hands of colored men who stood with him as makers of our laws, and treated them as equals and as friends. The cry of “social equality” coined and uttered by the cruel and the base, was to him the expression of a great and splendid truth. He knew that no man can be the equal of the one he robs—that the intelligent and unjust are not the superiors of the ignorant and honest—and he also felt, and proudly felt, that if he were not too great to reach the hand of help and recognition to the slave, no other Senator could rightfully refuse.

We rise by raising others—and he who stoops above the fallen, stands erect.

Nothing can be grander than to sow the seeds of noble thoughts and virtuous deeds—to liberate the bodies and the souls of men—to earn the grateful homage of a race—and then, in life’s last shadowy hour, to know that the historian of Liberty will be compelled to write your name.

There are no words intense enough,—with heart enough—to express my admiration for the great and gallant souls who have in every age and every land upheld the right, and who have lived and died for freedom’s sake.

In our lives have been the grandest years that man has lived, that Time has measured by the flight of worlds.

The history of that great Party that let the oppressed go free—that lifted our nation from the depths of savagery to freedom’s cloudless heights, and tore with holy hands from every law the words that sanctified the cruelty of man, is the most glorious in the annals of our race. Never before was there such a moral exaltation—never a party with a purpose so pure and high. It was the embodied conscience of a nation, the enthusiasm of a people guided by wisdom, the impersonation of justice; and the sublime victory achieved loaded even the conquered with all the rights that freedom can bestow.

Roscoe Conkling was an absolutely honest man. Honesty is the oak around which all other virtues cling. Without that they fall, and groveling die in weeds and dust. He believed that a nation should discharge its obligations. He knew that a promise could not be made often enough, or emphatic enough, to take the place of payment. He felt that the promise of the Government was the promise of every citizen—that a national obligation was a personal debt, and that no possible combination of words and pictures could take the place of coin. He uttered the splendid truth that “the higher obligations among men are not set down in writing signed and sealed, but reside in honor.” He knew that repudiation was the sacrifice of honor—the death of the national soul. He knew that without character, without integrity, there is no wealth, and that below poverty, below bankruptcy, is the rayless abyss of repudiation. He upheld the sacredness of contracts, of plighted national faith, and helped to save and keep the honor of his native land. This adds another laurel to his brow.

He was the ideal representative, faithful and incorruptible. He believed that his constituents and his country were entitled to the fruit of his experience, to his best and highest thought. No man ever held the standard of responsibility higher than he. He voted according to his judgment, his conscience. He made no bargains—he neither bought nor sold.

To correct evils, abolish abuses and inaugurate reforms, he believed was not only the duty, but the privilege, of a legislator. He neither sold nor mortgaged himself. He was in Congress during the years of vast expenditure, of war and waste—when the credit of the nation was loaned to individuals—when claims were thick as leaves in June, when the amendment of a statute, the change of a single word, meant millions, and when empires were given to corporations. He stood at the summit of his power—peer of the greatest—a leader tried and trusted. He had the tastes of a prince, the fortune of a peasant, and yet he never swerved. No corporation was great enough or rich enough to purchase him. His vote could not be bought “for all the sun sees, or the close earth wombs, or the profound seas hide.” His hand was never touched by any bribe, and on his soul there never was a sordid stain. Poverty was his priceless crown.

Above his marvelous intellectual gifts—above all place he ever reached,—above the ermine he refused,—rises his integrity like some great mountain peak—and there it stands, firm as the earth beneath, pure as the stars above.

He was a great lawyer. He understood the frame-work, the anatomy, the foundations of law; was familiar with the great streams and currents and tides of authority.

He knew the history of legislation—the principles that have been settled upon the fields of war. He knew the maxims,—those crystallizations of common sense, those hand-grenades of argument. He was not a case-lawyer—a decision index, or an echo; he was original, thoughtful and profound. He had breadth and scope, resource, learning, logic, and above all, a sense of justice. He was painstaking and conscientious—anxious to know the facts—preparing for every attack, ready for every defence. He rested only when the end was reached. During the contest, he neither sent nor received a flag of truce. He was true to his clients—making their case his. Feeling responsibility, he listened patiently to details, and to his industry there were only the limits of time and strength. He was a student of the Constitution. He knew the boundaries of State and Federal jurisdiction, and no man was more familiar with those great decisions that are the peaks and promontories, the headlands and the beacons, of the law.

He was an orator,—logical, earnest, intense and picturesque. He laid the foundation with care, with accuracy and skill, and rose by “cold gradation and well balanced form” from the corner-stone of statement to the domed conclusion. He filled the stage. He satisfied the eye—the audience was his. He had that indefinable thing called presence. Tall, commanding, erect—ample in speech, graceful in compliment, Titanic in denunciation, rich in illustration, prodigal of comparison and metaphor—and his sentences, measured and rhythmical, fell like music on the enraptured throng.

He abhorred the Pharisee, and loathed all conscientious fraud. He had a profound aversion for those who insist on putting base motives back of the good deeds of others. He wore no mask. He knew his friends—his enemies knew him.

He had no patience with pretence—with patriotic reasons for unmanly acts. He did his work and bravely spoke his thought.

Sensitive to the last degree, he keenly felt the blows and stabs of the envious and obscure—of the smallest, of the weakest—but the greatest could not drive him from conviction’s field. He would not stoop to ask or give an explanation. He left his words and deeds to justify themselves.

He held in light esteem a friend who heard with half-believing ears the slander of a foe. He walked a highway of his own, and kept the company of his self-respect. He would not turn aside to avoid a foe—to greet or gain a friend.

In his nature there was no compromise. To him there were but two paths—the right and wrong. He was maligned, misrepresented and misunderstood—but he would not answer. He knew that character speaks louder far than any words. He was as silent then as he is now—and his silence, better than any form of speech, refuted every charge.

He was an American—proud of his country, that was and ever will be proud of him. He did not find perfection only in other lands. He did not grow small and shrunken, withered and apologetic, in the presence of those upon whom greatness had been thrust by chance. He could not be overawed by dukes or lords, nor flattered into vertebrate-less subserviency by the patronizing smiles of kings. In the midst of conventionalities he had the feeling of suffocation. He believed in the royalty of man, in the sovereignty of the citizen, and in the matchless greatness of this Republic.

He was of the classic mould—a figure from the antique world. He had the pose of the great statues—the pride and bearing of the intellectual Greek, of the conquering Roman, and he stood in the wide free air as though within his veins there flowed the blood of a hundred kings.

And as he lived he died. Proudly he entered the darkness—or the dawn—that we call death. Unshrinkingly he passed beyond our horizon, beyond the twilight’s purple hills, beyond the utmost reach of human harm or help—to that vast realm of silence or of joy where the innumerable dwell, and he has left with us his wealth of thought and deed—the memory of a brave, imperious, honest man, who bowed alone to death.


New York, May 24., 1888.

MY FRIENDS: The river of another life has reached the sea.

Again we are in the presence of that eternal peace that we call death.

My life has been rich in friends, but I never had a better or a truer one than he who lies in silence here. He was as steadfast, as faithful, as the stars.

Richard H. Whiting was an absolutely honest man. His word was gold—his promise was fulfillment—and there never has been, there never will be, on this poor earth, any thing nobler than an honest, loving soul.

This man was as reliable as the attraction of gravitation—he knew no shadow of turning. He was as generous as autumn, as hospitable as summer, and as tender as a perfect day in June. He forgot only himself, and asked favors only for others. He begged for the opportunity to do good—to stand by a friend, to support a cause, to defend what he believed to be right.

He was a lover of nature—of the woods, the fields and flowers. He was a home-builder. He believed in the family and the fireside—in the sacredness of the hearth.

He was a believer in the religion of deed, and his creed was to do good. No man has ever slept in death who nearer lived his creed.

I have known him for many years, and have yet to hear a word spoken of him except in praise.

His life was full of honor, of kindness and of helpful deeds. Besides all, his soul was free. He feared nothing, except to do wrong. He was a believer in the gospel of help and hope. He knew how much better, how much more sacred, a kind act is than any theory the brain has wrought.

The good are the noble. His life filled the lives of others with sunshine. He has left a legacy of glory to his children. They can truthfully say that within their veins is right royal blood—the blood of an honest, generous man, of a steadfast friend, of one who was true to the very gates of death.

If there be another world, another life beyond the shore of this,—if the great and good who died upon this orb are there,—then the noblest and the best, with eager hands, have welcomed him—the equal in honor, in generosity, of any one that ever passed beyond the veil.

To me this world is growing poor. New friends can never fill the places of the old.

Farewell! If this is the end, then you have left to us the sacred memory of a noble life. If this is not the end, there is no world in which you, my friend, will not be loved and welcomed. Farewell!


New York, July 26, 1888.

MY FRIENDS: A thinker of pure thoughts, a speaker of brave words, a doer of generous deeds has reached the silent haven that all the dead have reached, and where the voyage of every life must end; and we, his friends, who even now are hastening after him, are met to do the last kind acts that man may do for man—to tell his virtues and to lay with tenderness and tears lay ashes in the sacred place of rest and peace.

Some one has said, that in the open hands of death we find only what they gave away.

Let us believe that pure thoughts, brave words and generous deeds can never die. Let us believe that they bear fruit and add forever to the well-being of the human race. Let us believe that a noble, self-denying life increases the moral wealth of man, and gives assurance that the future will be grander than the past.

In the monotony of subservience, in the multitude of blind followers, nothing is more inspiring than a free and independent man—one who gives and asks reasons; one who demands freedom and gives what he demands; one who refuses to be slave or master. Such a man was Courtlandt Palmer, to whom we pay the tribute of respect and love.

He was an honest man—he gave the rights he claimed. This was the foundation on which he built. To think for himself—to give his thought to others; this was to him not only a privilege, not only a right, but a duty.

He believed in self-preservation—in personal independence—that is to say, in manhood.

He preserved the realm of mind from the invasion of brute force, and protected the children of the brain from the Herod of authority.

He investigated for himself the questions, the problems and the mysteries of life. Majorities were nothing to him. No error could be old enough—popular, plausible or profitable enough—to bribe his judgment or to keep his conscience still.

He knew that, next to finding truth, the greatest joy is honest search.

He was a believer in intellectual hospitality, in the fair exchange of thought, in good mental manners, in the amenities of the soul, in the chivalry of discussion.

He insisted that those who speak should hear; that those who question should answer; that each should strive not for a victory over others, but for the discovery of truth, and that truth when found should be welcomed by every human soul.

He knew that truth has no fear of investigation—of being understood. He knew that truth loves the day—that its enemies are ignorance, prejudice, egotism, bigotry, hypocrisy, fear and darkness, and that intelligence, candor, honesty, love and light are its eternal friends.

He believed in the morality of the useful—that the virtues are the friends of man—the seeds of joy.

He knew that consequences determine the quality of actions, and “that whatsoever a man sows that shall he also reap.”

In the positive philosophy of Auguste Comte he found the framework of his creed. In the conclusions of that great, sublime and tender soul he found the rest, the serenity and the certainty he sought.

The clouds had fallen from his life. He saw that the old faiths were but phases in the growth of man—that out from the darkness, up from the depths, the human race through countless ages and in every land had struggled toward the ever-growing light.

He felt that the living are indebted to the noble dead, and that each should pay his debt; that he should pay it by preserving to the extent of his power the good he has, by destroying the hurtful, by adding to the knowledge of the world, by giving better than he had received; and that each should be the bearer of a torch, a giver of light for all that is, for all to be.

This was the religion of duty perceived, of duty within the reach of man, within the circumference of the known—a religion without mystery, with experience for the foundation of belief—a religion understood by the head and approved by the heart—a religion that appealed to reason with a definite end in view—the civilization and development of the human race by legitimate, adequate and natural means—that is to say, by ascertaining the conditions of progress and by teaching each to be noble enough to live for all.

This is the gospel of man; this is the gospel of this world; this is the religion of humanity; this is a philosophy that comtemplates not with scorn, but with pity, with admiration and with love all that man has done, regarding, as it does, the past with all its faults and virtues, its sufferings, its cruelties and crimes, as the only road by which the perfect could be reached.

He denied the supernatural—the phantoms and the ghosts that fill the twilight-land of fear. To him and for him there was but one religion—the religion of pure thoughts, of noble words, of self-denying deeds, of honest work for all the world—the religion of Help and Hope.

Facts were the foundation of his faith; history was his prophet; reason his guide; duty his deity; happiness the end; intelligence the means.

He knew that man must be the providence of man.

He did not believe in Religion and Science, but in the Religion of Science—that is to say, wisdom glorified by love, the Savior of our race—the religion that conquers prejudice and hatred, that drives all superstition from the mind, that ennobles, lengthens and enriches life, that drives from every home the wolves of want, from every heart the fiends of selfishness and fear, and from every brain the monsters of the night.

He lived and labored for his fellow-men. He sided with the weak and poor against the strong and rich. He welcomed light. His face was ever toward the East.

According to his light he lived. “The world was his country—to do good his religion.” There is no language to express a nobler creed than this; nothing can be grander, more comprehensive, nearer perfect. This was the creed that glorified his life and made his death sublime.

He was afraid to do wrong, and for that reason was not afraid to die.

He knew that the end was near. He knew that his work was done. He stood within the twilight, within the deepening gloom, knowing that for the last time the gold was fading from the West and that there could not fall again within his eyes the trembling lustre of another dawn. He knew that night had come, and yet his soul was filled with light, for in that night the memory of his generous deeds shone out like stars.

What can we say? What words can solve the mystery of life, the mystery of death? What words can justly pay a tribute to the man who lived to his ideal, who spoke his honest thought, and who was turned aside neither by envy, nor hatred, nor contumely, nor slander, nor scorn, nor fear?

What words will do that life the justice that we know and feel?

A heart breaks, a man dies, a leaf falls in the far forest, a babe is born, and the great world sweeps on.

By the grave of man stands the angel of Silence.

No one can tell which is better—Life with its gleams and shadows, its thrills and pangs, its ecstasy and tears, its wreaths and thorns, its crowns, its glories and Golgothas, or Death, with its peace, its rest, its cool and placid brow that hath within no memory or fear of grief or pain.

Farewell, dear friend. The world is better for your life—The world is braver for your death.

Farewell! We loved you living, and we love you now.


At Scottish Rite Hall, New York, February 6, 1889.

MY FRIENDS: In the presence of the two great mysteries, Life and Death, we are met to say above this still, unconscious house of clay, a few words of kindness, of regret, of love, and hope.

In this presence, let us speak of the goodness, the charity, the generosity and the genius of the dead.

Only flowers should be laid upon the tomb. In life’s last pillow there should be no thorns.

Mary Fiske was like herself—she patterned after none. She was a genius, and put her soul in all she did and wrote. She cared nothing for roads, nothing for beaten paths, nothing for the footsteps of others—she went across the fields and through the woods and by the winding streams, and down the vales, or over crags, wherever fancy led. She wrote lines that leaped with laughter and words that were wet with tears. She gave us quaint thoughts, and sayings filled with the “pert and nimble spirit of mirth.” Her pages were flecked with sunshine and shadow, and in every word were the pulse and breath of life.

Her heart went out to all the wretched in this weary world—and yet she seemed as joyous as though grief and death were nought but words. She wept where others wept, but in her own misfortunes found the food of hope. She cared for the to-morrow of others, but not for her own. She lived for to-day.

Some hearts are like a waveless pool, satisfied to hold the image of a wondrous star—but hers was full of motion, life and light and storm.

She longed for freedom. Every limitation was a prison’s wall. Rules were shackles, and forms were made for serfs and slaves.

She gave her utmost thought. She praised all generous deeds; applauded the struggling and even those who failed.

She pitied the poor, the forsaken, the friendless. No one could fall below her pity, no one could wander beyond the circumference of her sympathy. To her there were no outcasts—they were victims. She knew that the inhabitants of palaces and penitentiaries might change places without adding to the injustice of the world. She knew that circumstances and conditions determine character—that the lowest and the worst of our race were children once, as pure as light, whose cheeks dimpled with smiles beneath the heaven of a mother’s eyes. She thought of the road they had traveled, of the thorns that had pierced their feet, of the deserts they had crossed, and so, instead of words of scorn she gave the eager hand of help.

No one appealed to her in vain. She listened to the story of the poor, and all she had she gave. A god could do no more.

The destitute and suffering turned naturally to her. The maimed and hurt sought for her open door, and the helpless put their hands in hers.

She shielded the weak—she attacked the strong.

Her heart was open as the gates of day. She shed kindness as the sun sheds light. If all her deeds were flowers, the air would be faint with perfume. If all her charities could change to melodies, a symphony would fill the sky.

Mary Fiske had within her brain the divine fire called genius, and in her heart the “touch of nature that makes the whole world kin.”

She wrote as a stream runs, that winds and babbles through the shadowy fields, that falls in foam of flight and haste and laughing joins the sea.

A little while ago a babe was found—one that had been abandoned by its mother—left as a legacy to chance or fate. The warm heart of Mary Fiske, now cold in death, was touched. She took the waif and held it lovingly to her breast and made the child her own.

We pray thee, Mother Nature, that thou wilt take this woman and hold her as tenderly in thy arms, as she held and pressed against her generous, throbbing heart, the abandoned babe.

We ask no more.

In this presence, let us remember our faults, our frailties, and the generous, helpful, self-denying, loving deeds of Mary Fiske.




At Paine Hall, Boston, August 25, 1889.

     * The eulogy pronounced at the funeral of Horace Shaver In

Paine Hall last Sunday was the tribute of one great man to

another. To have Robert G. Ingersoll speak words of praise

above the silent form is fame; to deserve these words is

immortality.—The Boston Investigator, August 28, 1889.


HORACE SEAVER was a pioneer, a torch-bearer, a toiler in that great field we call the world—a worker for his fellow-men. At the end of his task he has fallen asleep, and we are met to tell the story of his long and useful life—to pay our tribute to his work and worth.

He was one who saw the dawn while others lived in night. He kept his face toward the “purpling east” and watched the coming of the blessed day.

He always sought for light. His object was to know—to find a reason for his faith—a fact on which to build.

In superstition’s sands he sought the gems of truth; in superstition’s night he looked for stars.

Born in New England—reared amidst the cruel superstitions of his age and time, he had the manhood and the courage to investigate, and he had the goodness and the courage to tell his honest thoughts.

He was always kind, and sought to win the confidence of men by sympathy and love. There was no taint or touch of malice in his blood. To him his fellows did not seem depraved—they were not wholly bad—there was within the heart of each the seeds of good. He knew that back of every thought and act were forces uncontrolled. He wisely said: “Circumstances furnish the seeds of good and evil, and man is but the soil in which they grow.” Horace Seaver was crowned with the wreath of his own deeds, woven by the generous hand of a noble friend. He fought the creed, and loved the man. He pitied those who feared and shuddered at the thought of death—who dwelt in darkness and in dread.

The religion of his day filled his heart with horror.

He was kind, compassionate, and tender, and could not fall upon his knees before a cruel and revengeful God—he could not bow to one who slew with famine, sword and fire—to one pitiless as pestilence, relentless as the lightning stroke. Jehovah had no attribute that he could love.

He attacked the creed of New England—a creed that had within it the ferocity of Knox, the malice of Calvin, the cruelty of Jonathan Edwards—a religion that had a monster for a God—a religion whose dogmas would have shocked cannibals feasting upon babes.

Horace Seaver followed the light of his brain—the impulse of his heart. He was attacked, but he answered the insulter with a smile; and even he who coined malignant lies was treated as a friend misled. He did not ask God to forgive his enemies—he forgave them himself. He was sincere. Sincerity is the true and perfect mirror of the mind. It reflects the honest thought. It is the foundation of character, and without it there is no moral grandeur.

Sacred are the lips from which has issued only truth. Over all wealth, above all station, above the noble, the robed and crowned, rises the sincere man. Happy is the man who neither paints nor patches, veils nor veneers. Blessed is he who wears no mask.

The man who lies before us wrapped in perfect peace, practiced no art to hide or half conceal his thought. He did not write or speak the double words that might be useful in retreat. He gave a truthful transcript of his mind, and sought to make his meaning clear as light.

To use his own words, he had “the courage which impels a man to do his duty, to hold fast his integrity, to maintain a conscience void of offence, at every hazard and at every sacrifice, in defiance of the world.”

He lived to his ideal. He sought the approbation of himself. He did not build his character upon the opinions of others, and it was out of the very depths of his nature that he asked this profound question:

“What is there in other men that makes us desire their approbation, and fear their censure more than our own?”

Horace Seaver was a good and loyal citizen of the mental republic—a believer in, intellectual hospitality, one who knew that bigotry is born of ignorance and fear—the provincialisms of the brain. He did not belong to the tribe, or to the nation, but to the human race. His sympathy was wide as want, and, like the sky, bent above the suffering world.

This man had that superb thing called moral courage—courage in its highest form. He knew that his thoughts were not the thoughts of others—that he was with the few, and that where one would take his side, thousands would be his eager foes. He knew that wealth would scorn and cultured ignorance deride, and that believers in the creeds, buttressed by law and custom, would hurl the missiles of revenge and hate. He knew that lies, like snakes, would fill the pathway of his life—and yet he told his honest thought—told it without hatred and without contempt—told it as it really was. And so, through all his days, his heart was sound and stainless to the core.

When he enlisted in the army whose banner is light, the honest investigator was looked upon as lost and cursed, and even Christian criminals held him in contempt. The believing embezzler, the orthodox wife-beater, even the murderer, lifted his bloody hands and thanked God that on his soul there was no stain of unbelief.

In nearly every State of our Republic, the man who denied the absurdities and impossibilities lying at the foundation of what is called orthodox religion, was denied his civil rights. He was not canopied by the ægis of the law. He stood beyond the reach of sympathy. He was not allowed to testify against the invader of his home, the seeker for his life—his lips were closed. He was declared dishonorable, because he was honest. His unbelief made him a social leper, a pariah, an outcast. He was the victim of religious hate and scorn. Arrayed against him were all the prejudices and all the forces and hypocrisies of society. All mistakes and lies were his enemies. Even the Theist was denounced as a disturber of the peace, although he told his thoughts in kind and candid words. He was called a blasphemer, because he sought to rescue the reputation of his God from the slanders of orthodox priests.

Such was the bigotry of the time, that natural love was lost. The unbelieving son was hated by his pious sire, and even the mother’s heart was by her creed turned into stone.

Horace Seaver pursued his way. He worked and wrought as best he could, in solitude and want. He knew the day would come. He lived to be rewarded for his toil—to see most of the laws repealed that had made outcasts of the noblest, the wisest, and the best. He lived to see the foremost preachers of the world attack the sacred creeds. He lived to see the sciences released from superstition’s clutch. He lived to see the orthodox theologian take his place with the professor of the black art, the fortune-teller, and the astrologer. He lived to see the greatest of the world accept his thought—to see the theologian displaced by the true priests of Nature—by Humboldt and Darwin, by Huxley and Haeckel.

Within the narrow compass of his life the world was changed. The railway, the steamship, and the telegraph made all nations neighbors. Countless inventions have made the luxuries of the past the necessities of to-day. Life has been enriched, and man ennobled. The geologist has read the records of frost and flame, of wind and wave—the astronomer has told the story of the stars—the biologist has sought the germ of life, and in every department of knowledge the torch of science sheds its sacred light.

The ancient creeds have grown absurd. The miracles are small and mean. The inspired book is filled with fables told to please a childish world, and the dogma of eternal pain now shocks the heart and brain.

He lived to see a monument unveiled to Bruno in the city of Rome—to Giordano Bruno—that great man who two hundred and eighty-nine years ago suffered death for having proclaimed the truths that since have filled the world with joy. He lived to see the victim of the church a victor—lived to see his memory honored by a nation freed from papal chains.

He worked knowing what the end must be—expecting little while he lived—but knowing that every fact in the wide universe was on his side. He knew that truth can wait, and so he worked patient as eternity.

He had the brain of a philosopher and the heart of a child.

Horace Seaver was a man of common sense.

By that I mean, one who knows the law of average. He denied the Bible, not on account of what has been discovered in astronomy, or the length of time it took to form the delta of the Nile—but he compared the things he found with what he knew.

He knew that antiquity added nothing to probability—that lapse of time can never take the place of cause, and that the dust can never gather thick enough upon mistakes to make them equal with the truth.

He knew that the old, by no possibility, could have been more wonderful than the new, and that the present is a perpetual torch by which we know the past.

To him all miracles were mistakes, whose parents were cunning and credulity. He knew that miracles were not, because they are not.

He believed in the sublime, unbroken, and eternal march of causes and effects—denying the chaos of chance, and the caprice of power.

He tested the past by the now, and judged of all the men and races of the world by those he knew.

He believed in the religion of free thought and good deed—of character, of sincerity, of honest endeavor, of cheerful help—and above all, in the religion of love and liberty—in a religion for every day—for the world in which we live—for the present—the religion of roof and raiment, of food, of intelligence, of intellectual hospitality—the religion that gives health and happiness, freedom and content—in the religion of work, and in the ceremonies of honest labor.

He lived for this world; if there be another, he will live for that.

He did what he could for the destruction of fear—the destruction of the imaginary monster who rewards the few in heaven—the monster who tortures the many in perdition.

He was a friend of all the world, and sought to civilize the human race.

For more than fifty years he labored to free the bodies and the souls of men—and many thousands have read his words with joy. He sought the suffering and oppressed. He sat by those in pain—and his helping hand was laid in pity on the brow of death.

He asked only to be treated as he treated others. He asked for only what he earned, and had the manhood cheerfully to accept the consequences of his actions. He expected no reward for the goodness of another.

But he has lived his life. We should shed no tears except the tears of gratitude. We should rejoice that he lived so long.

In Nature’s course, his time had come. The four seasons were complete in him. The Spring could never come again. The measure of his years was full.

When the day is done—when the work of a life is finished—when the gold of evening meets the dusk of night, beneath the silent stars the tired laborer should fall asleep. To outlive usefulness is a double death. “Let me not live after my flame lacks oil, to be the snuff of younger spirits.”

When the old oak is visited in vain by Spring—when light and rain no longer thrill—it is not well to stand leafless, desolate, and alone. It is better far to fall where Nature softly covers all with woven moss and creeping vine.

How little, after all, we know of what is ill or well! How little of this wondrous stream of cataracts and pools—this stream of life, that rises in a world unknown, and flows to that mysterious sea whose shore the foot of one who comes has never pressed! How little of this life we know—this struggling ray of light ‘twixt gloom and gloom—this strip of land by verdure clad, between the unknown wastes—this throbbing moment filled with love and pain—this dream that lies between the shadowy shores of sleep and death!

We stand upon this verge of crumbling time. We love, we hope, we disappear. Again we mingle with the dust, and the “knot intrinsicate” forever falls apart.

But this we know: A noble life enriches all the world.

Horace Seaver lived for others. He accepted toil and hope deferred. Poverty was his portion. Like Socrates, he did not seek to adorn his body, but rather his soul with the jewels of charity, modesty, courage, and above all, with a love of liberty.

Farewell, O brave and modest man!

Your lips, between which truths burst into blossom, are forever closed. Your loving heart has ceased to beat. Your busy brain is still, and from your hand has dropped the sacred torch.

Your noble, self-denying life has honored us, and we will honor you.

You were my friend, and I was yours. Above your silent clay I pay this tribute to your worth.



At the Broadway Theatre, New York, March 22, 1891.

MY heart tells me that on the threshold of my address it will be appropriate for me to say a few words about the great actor who has just fallen into that sleep that we call death. Lawrence Barrett was my friend, and I was his. He was an interpreter of Shakespeare, to whose creations he gave flesh and blood. He began at the foundation of his profession, and rose until he stood next to his friend—next to one who is regarded as the greatest tragedian of our time—next to Edwin Booth.

The life of Lawrence Barrett was a success, because he honored himself and added glory to the stage.

He did not seek for gain by pandering to the thoughtless, ignorant or base. He gave the drama in its highest and most serious form. He shunned the questionable, the vulgar and impure, and gave the intellectual, the pathetic, the manly and the tragic. He did not stoop to conquer—he soared. He was fitted for the stage. He had a thoughtful face, a vibrant voice and the pose of chivalry, and besides he had patience, industry, courage and the genius of success.

He was a graceful and striking Bassanio, a thoughtful Hamlet, an intense Othello, a marvelous Harebell, and the best Cassius of his century.

In the drama of human life, all are actors, and no one knows his part. In this great play the scenes are shifted by unknown forces, and the commencement, plot and end are still unknown—are still unguessed. One by one the players leave the stage, and others take their places. There is no pause—the play goes on. No prompter’s voice is heard, and no one has the slightest clue to what the next scene is to be.

Will this great drama have an end? Will the curtain fall at last? Will it rise again upon some other stage? Reason says perhaps, and Hope still whispers yes. Sadly I bid my friend farewell, I admired the actor, and I loved the man.


Camden, N. J., March 30, 1892.

MY FRIENDS: Again we, in the mystery of Life, are brought face to face with the mystery of Death. A great man, a great American, the most eminent citizen of this Republic, lies dead before us, and we have met to pay a tribute to his greatness and his worth.

I know he needs no words of mine. His fame is secure. He laid the foundations of it deep in the human heart and brain. He was, above all I have known, the poet of humanity, of sympathy. He was so great that he rose above the greatest that he met without arrogance, and so great that he stooped to the lowest without conscious condescension. He never claimed to be lower or greater than any of the sous of men.

He came into our generation a free, untrammeled spirit, with sympathy for all. His arm was beneath the form of the sick. He sympathized with the imprisoned and despised, and even on the brow of crime he was great enough to place the kiss of human sympathy.

One of the greatest lines in our literature is his, and the line is great enough to do honor to the greatest genius that has ever lived. He said, speaking of an outcast: “Not till the sun excludes you do I exclude you.”

His charity was as wide as the sky, and wherever there was human suffering, human misfortune, the sympathy of Whitman bent above it as the firmament bends above the earth.

He was built on a broad and splendid plan—ample, without appearing to have limitations—passing easily for a brother of mountains and seas and constellations; caring nothing for the little maps and charts with which timid pilots hug the shore, but giving himself freely with recklessness of genius to winds and waves and tides; caring for nothing as long as the stars were above him. He walked among men, among writers, among verbal varnishers and veneerers, among literary milliners and tailors, with the unconscious majesty of an antique god.

He was the poet of that divine democracy which gives equal rights to all the sons and daughters of men. He uttered the great American voice; uttered a song worthy of the great Republic. No man ever said more for the rights of humanity, more in favor of real democracy, of real justice. He neither scorned nor cringed, was neither tyrant nor slave. He asked only to stand the equal of his fellows beneath the great flag of nature, the blue and stars.

He was the poet of Life. It was a joy simply to breathe. He loved the clouds; he enjoyed the breath of morning, the twilight, the wind, the winding streams. He loved to look at the sea when the waves burst into the whitecaps of joy. He loved the fields, the hills; he was acquainted with the trees, with birds, with all the beautiful objects of the earth. He not only saw these objects, but understood their meaning, and he used them that he might exhibit his heart to his fellow-men.

He was the poet of Love. He was not ashamed of that divine passion that has built every home in the world; that divine passion that has painted every picture and given us every real work of art; that divine passion that has made the world worth living in and has given some value to human life.

He was the poet of the natural, and taught men not to be ashamed of that which is natural. He was not only the poet of democracy, not only the poet of the great Republic, but he was the poet of the human race. He was not confined to the limits of this country, but his sympathy went out over the seas to all the nations of the earth.

He stretched out his hand and felt himself the equal of all kings and of all princes, and the brother of all men, no matter how high, no matter how low.

He has uttered more supreme words than any writer of our century, possibly of almost any other. He was, above all things, a man, and above genius, above all the snow-capped peaks of intelligence, above all art, rises the true man. Greater than all is the true man, and he walked among his fellow-men as such.

He was the poet of Death. He accepted all life and all death, and he justified all. He had the courage to meet all, and was great enough and splendid enough to harmonize all and to accept all there is of life as a divine melody.

You know better than I what his life has been, but let me say one thing. Knowing, as he did, what others can know and what they cannot, he accepted and absorbed all theories, all creeds, all religions, and believed in none. His philosophy was a sky that embraced all clouds and accounted for all clouds. He had a philosophy and a religion of his own, broader, as he believed—and as I believe—than others. He accepted all, he understood all, and he was above all.

He was absolutely true to himself. He had frankness and courage, and he was as candid as light. He was willing that all the sons of men should be absolutely acquainted with his heart and brain. He had nothing to conceal. Frank, candid, pure, serene, noble, and yet for years he was maligned and slandered, simply because he had the candor of nature. He will be understood yet, and that for which he was condemned—his frankness, his candor—will add to the glory and greatness of his fame.

He wrote a liturgy for mankind; he wrote a great and splendid psalm of life, and he gave to us the gospel of humanity—the greatest gospel that can be preached.

He was not afraid to live, not afraid to die. For many years he and death were near neighbors. He was always willing and ready to meet and greet this king called death, and for many months he sat in the deepening twilight waiting for the night, waiting for the light.

He never lost his hope. When the mists filled the valleys, he looked upon the mountain tops, and when the mountains in darkness disappeared, he fixed his gaze upon the stars.

In his brain were the blessed memories of the day, and in his heart were mingled the dawn and dusk of life.

He was not afraid; he was cheerful every moment. The laughing nymphs of day did not desert him. They remained that they might clasp the hands and greet with smiles the veiled and silent sisters of the night. And when they did come, Walt Whitman stretched his hand to them. On one side were the nymphs of the day, and on the other the silent sisters of the night, and so, hand in hand, between smiles and tears, he reached his journey’s end.

From the frontier of life, from the western wave-kissed shore, he sent us messages of content and hope, and these messages seem now like strains of music blown by the “Mystic Trumpeter” from Death’s pale realm.

To-day we give back to Mother Nature, to her clasp and kiss, one of the bravest, sweetest souls that ever lived in human clay.

Charitable as the air and generous as Nature, he was negligent of all except to do and say what he believed he should do and should say.

And I to-day thank him, not only for you but for myself, for all the brave words he has uttered. I thank him for all the great and splendid words lie has said in favor of liberty, in favor of man and woman, in favor of motherhood, in favor of fathers, in favor of children, and I thank him for the brave words that he has said of death.

He has lived, he has died, and death is less terrible than it was before. Thousands and millions will walk down into the “dark valley of the shadow” holding Walt Whitman by the hand. Long after we are dead the brave words he has spoken will sound like trumpets to the dying.

And so I lay this little wreath upon this great mans tomb. I loved him living, and I love him still.


Dowagiac, Mich., January 25, 1893.

LADIES and Gentlemen: Nothing is nobler than to plant the flower of gratitude on the grave of a generous man—of one who labored for the good of all—whose hands were open and whose heart was full.

Praise for the noble dead is an inspiration for the noble living.

Loving words sow seeds of love in every gentle heart. Appreciation is the soil and climate of good and generous deeds.

We are met to-night not to pay, but to acknowledge a debt of gratitude to one who lived and labored here—who was the friend of all and who for many years was the providence of the poor. To one who left to those who knew him best, the memory of countless loving deeds—the richest legacy that man can leave to man.

We are here to dedicate this monument to the stainless memory of Philo D. Beckwith—one of the kings of men.

This monument—this perfect theatre—this beautiful house of cheerfulness and joy—this home and child of all the arts—this temple where the architect, the sculptor and painter united to build and decorate a stage whereon the drama with a thousand tongues will tell the frailties and the virtues of the human race, and music with her thrilling voice will touch the source of happy tears.

This is a fitting monument to the man whose memory we honor—to one, who broadening with the years, outgrew the cruel creeds, the heartless dogmas of his time—to one who passed from superstition to science—from religion to reason—from theology to humanity—from slavery to freedom—from the shadow of fear to the blessed light of love and courage. To one who believed in intellectual hospitality—in the perfect freedom of the soul, and hated tyranny, in every form, with all his heart.

To one whose head and hands were in partnership constituting the firm of Intelligence and Industry, and whose heart divided the profits with his fellow-men. To one who fought the battle of life alone, without the aid of place or wealth, and yet grew nobler and gentler with success.

To one who tried to make a heaven here and who believed in the blessed gospel of cheerfulness and love—of happiness and hope.

And it is fitting, too, that this monument should be adorned with the sublime faces, wrought in stone, of the immortal dead—of those who battled for the rights of man—who broke the fetters of the slave—of those who filled the minds of men with poetry, art, and light—of Voltaire, who abolished torture in France and who did more for liberty than any other of the sons of men—of Thomas Paine, whose pen did as much as any sword to make the New World free—of Victor Hugo, who wept for those who weep—of Emerson, a worshiper of the Ideal, who filled the mind with suggestions of the perfect—of Goethe, the poet-philosopher—of Whitman, the ample, wide as the sky—author of the tenderest, the most pathetic, the sublimest poem that this continent has produced—of Shakespeare, the King of all—of Beethoven, the divine,—of Chopin and Verdi and of Wagner, grandest of them all, whose music satisfies the heart and brain and fills imagination’s sky—of George Eliot, who wove within her brain the purple robe her genius wears—of George Sand, subtle and sincere, passionate and free—and with these—faces of those who, on the stage, have made the mimic world as real as life and death.

Beneath the loftiest monuments may be found ambition’s worthless dust, while those who lived the loftiest lives are sleeping now in unknown graves.

It may be that the bravest of the brave who ever fell upon the field of ruthless war, was left without a grave to mingle slowly with the land he saved.

But here and now the Man and Monument agree, and blend like sounds that meet and melt in melody—a monument for the dead—a blessing for the living—a memory of tears—a prophecy of joy.

Fortunate the people where this good man lived, for they are all his heirs—and fortunate for me that I have had the privilege of laying this little laurel leaf upon his unstained brow.

And now, speaking for those he loved—for those who represent the honored dead—I dedicate this home of mirth and song—of poetry and art—to the memory of Philo D. Beckwith—a true philosopher—a real philanthropist.


     A telegram read at the funeral services in the Metropolitan

     Opera House, New York City, March 31, 1898.

IN the noon and zenith of his career, in the flush and glory of success, Anton Seidl, the greatest orchestral leader of all time, the perfect interpreter of Wagner, of all his subtlety and sympathy, his heroism and grandeur, his intensity and limitless passion, his wondrous harmonies that tell of all there is in life, and touch the longings and the hopes of every heart, has passed from the shores of sound to the realm of silence, borne by the mysterious and resistless tide that ever ebbs but never flows.

All moods were his. Delicate as the perfume of the first violet, wild as the storm, he knew the music of all sounds, from the rustle of leaves, the whisper of hidden springs, to the voices of the sea.

He was the master of music, from the rhythmical strains of irresponsible joy to the sob of the funeral march.

He stood like a king with his sceptre in his hand, and we knew that every tone and harmony were in his brain, every passion in his breast, and yet his sculptured face was as calm, as serene as perfect art. He mingled his soul with the music and gave his heart to the enchanted air.

He appeared to have no limitations, no walls, no chains. He seemed to follow the pathway of desire, and the marvelous melodies, the sublime harmonies, were as free as eagles above the clouds with outstretched wings.

He educated, refined, and gave unspeakable joy to many thousands of his fellow-men. He added to the grace and glory of life. He spoke a language deeper, more poetic than words—the language of the perfect, the language of love and death.

But he is voiceless now; a fountain of harmony has ceased. Its inspired strains have died away in night, and all its murmuring melodies are strangely still.

We will mourn for him, we will honor him, not in words, but in the language that he used.

Anton Seidl is dead. Play the great funeral march. Envelop him in music. Let its wailing waves cover him. Let its wild and mournful winds sigh and moan above him. Give his face to its kisses and its tears.

Play the great funeral march, music as profound as death. That will express our sorrow—that will voice our love, our hope, and that will tell of the life, the triumph, the genius, the death of Anton Seidl.


New York September 8, 1898.

IN the pulseless hush of death, silence seems more expressive, more appropriate—than speech. In the presence of the Great Mystery, the great mystery that waits to enshroud us all, we feel the uselessness of words. But where a fellow-mortal has reached his journey’s end—where the darkness from which he emerged has received him again, it is but natural for his friends to mingle with their grief, expressions of their love and loss.

He who lies before us in the sleep of death was generous to his fellow-men. His hands were always stretched to help, to save. He pitied the friendless, the unfortunate, the hopeless—proud of his skill—of his success. He was quick to decide—to act—prompt, tireless, forgetful of self. He lengthened life and conquered pain—hundreds are well and happy now because he lived. This is enough. This puts a star above the gloom of death.

He was sensitive to the last degree—quick to feel a slight—to resent a wrong—but in the warmth of kindness the thorn of hatred blossomed. He was not quite fashioned for this world. The flints and thorns on life’s highway bruised and pierced his flesh, and for his wounds he did not have the blessed balm of patience. He felt the manacles, the limitations—the imprisonments of life and so within the walls and bars he wore his very soul away. He could not bear the storms. The tides, the winds, the waves, in the morning of his life, dashed his frail bark against the rocks.

He fought as best he could, and that he failed was not his fault.

He was honest, generous and courageous. These three great virtues were his. He was a true and steadfast friend, seeing only the goodness of the ones he loved. Only a great and noble heart is capable of this.

But he has passed beyond the reach of praise or blame—passed to the realm of rest—to the waveless calm of perfect peace.

The storm is spent—the winds are hushed—the waves have died along the shore—the tides are still—the aching heart has ceased to beat, and within the brain all thoughts, all hopes and fears—ambitions, memories, rejoicings and regrets—all images and pictures of the world, of life, are now as though they had not been. And yet Hope, the child of Love—the deathless, beyond the darkness sees the dawn. And we who knew and loved him, we, who now perform the last sad rites—the last that friendship can suggest—”will keep his memory green.”

Dear Friend, farewell! “If we do meet again we shall smile indeed—if not, this parting is well made.” Farewell!


Lebanon, Ohio, March 5, 1899.

     * An Impromptu preface to Colonel Ingersoll’s lecture at

     Lebanon, Ohio.

LADIES and Gentlemen: Being for the first time where Thomas Corwin lived and where his ashes rest, I cannot refrain from saying something of what I feel. Thomas Corwin was a natural orator—armed with the sword of attack and the shield of defence.

Nature filled his quiver with perfect arrows. He was the lord of logic and laughter. He had the presence, the pose, the voice, the face that mirrored thoughts, the unconscious gesture of the orator. He had intelligence—a wide horizon—logic as unerring as mathematics—humor as rich as autumn when the boughs and vines bend with the weight of ripened fruit, while the forests flame with scarlet, brown and gold. He had wit as quick and sharp as lightning, and like the lightning it filled the heavens with sudden light.

In his laughter there was logic, in his wit wisdom, and in his humor philosophy and philanthropy. He was a supreme artist. He painted pictures with words. He knew the strength, the velocity of verbs, the color, the light and shade of adjectives.

He was a sculptor in speech—changing stones to statues. He had in his heart the sacred something that we call sympathy. He pitied the unfortunate, the oppressed and the outcast His words were often wet with tears—tears that in a moment after were glorified by the light of smiles. All moods were his. He knew the heart, its tides and currents, its calms and storms, and like a skillful pilot he sailed emotion’s troubled sea. He was neither solemn nor dignified, because he was neither stupid nor egotistic. He was natural, and had the spontaneity of winds and waves. He was the greatest orator of his time, the grandest that ever stood beneath our flag. Reverently I lay this leaf upon his grave.


New York, March 27, 1899.

MY FRIENDS: When one whom we hold dear has reached the end of life and laid his burden down, it is but natural for us, his friends, to pay the tribute of respect and love; to tell his virtues, to express our sense of loss and speak above the sculptured clay some word of hope.

Our friend, about whose bier we stand, was in the highest, noblest sense a man. He was not born to wealth—he was his own providence, his own teacher. With him work was worship and labor was his only prayer. He depended on himself, and was as independent as it is possible for man to be. He hated debt, and obligation was a chain that scarred his flesh. He lived a long and useful life. In age he reaped with joy what he had cown in youth. He did not linger “until his flame lacked oil,” but with his senses keen, his mind undimmed, and with his arms filled with gathered sheaves, in an instant, painlessly, unconsciously, he passed from happiness and health to the realm of perfect peace. We need not mourn for him, but for ourselves, for those he loved.

He was an absolutely honest man—a man who kept his word, who fulfilled his contracts, gave heaped and rounded measure and discharged all obligations with the fabled chivalry of ancient knights. He was absolutely honest, not only with others but with himself. To his last moment his soul was stainless. He was true to his ideal—true to his thought, and what his brain conceived his lips expressed. He refused to pretend. He knew that to believe without evidence was impossible to the sound and sane, and that to say you believed when you did not, was possible only to the hypocrite or coward. He did not believe in the supernatural. He was a natural man and lived a natural life. He had no fear of fiends. He cared nothing for the guesses of inspired savages; nothing for the threats or promises of the sainted and insane.

He enjoyed this life—the good things of this world—the clasp and smile of friendship, the exchange of generous deeds, the reasonable gratification of the senses—of the wants of the body and mind. He was neither an insane ascetic nor a fool of pleasure, but walked the golden path along the strip of verdure that lies between the deserts of extremes.

With him to do right was not simply a duty, it was a pleasure. He had philosophy enough to know that the quality of actions depends upon their consequences, and that these consequences are the rewards and punishments that no God can give, inflict, withhold or pardon.

He loved his country, he was proud of the heroic past, dissatisfied with the present, and confident of the future. He stood on the rock of principle. With him the wisest policy was to do right. He would not compromise with wrong. He had no respect for political failures who became reformers and decorated fraud with the pretence of philanthropy, or sought to gain some private end in the name of public good. He despised time-servers, trimmers, fawners and all sorts and kinds of pretenders.

He believed in national honesty; in the preservation of public faith. He believed that the Government should discharge every obligation—the implied as faithfully as the expressed. And I would be unjust to his memory if I did not say that he believed in honest money, in the best money in the world, in pure gold, and that he despised with all his heart financial frauds, and regarded fifty cents that pretended to be a dollar, as he would a thief in the uniform of a policeman, or a criminal in the robe of a judge.

He believed in liberty, and liberty for all. He pitied the slave and hated the master; that is to say, he was an honest man. In the dark days of the Rebellion he stood for the right. He loved Lincoln with all his heart—loved him for his genius, his courage and his goodness. He loved Conkling—loved him for his independence, his manhood, for his unwavering courage, and because he would not bow or bend—loved him because he accepted defeat with the pride of a victor. He loved Grant, and in the temple of his heart, over the altar, in the highest niche, stood the great soldier.

Nature was kind to our friend. She gave him the blessed gift of humor. This filled his days with the climate of Autumn, so that to him even disaster had its sunny side. On account of his humor he appreciated and enjoyed the great literature of the world. He loved Shakespeare, his clowns and heroes. He appreciated and enjoyed Dickens. The characters of this great novelist were his acquaintances. He knew them all; some were his friends and some he dearly loved. He had wit of the keenest and quickest. The instant the steel of his logic smote the flint of absurdity the spark glittered. And yet, his wit was always kind. The flower went with the thorn. The targets of his wit were not made enemies, but admirers.

He was social, and after the feast of serious conversation he loved the wine of wit—the dessert of a good story that blossomed into mirth. He enjoyed games—was delighted by the relations of chance—the curious combinations of accident. He had the genius of friendship. In his nature there was no suspicion. He could not be poisoned against a friend. The arrows of slander never pierced the shield of his confidence. He demanded demonstration. He defended a friend as he defended himself. Against all comers he stood firm, and he never deserted the field until the friend had fled. I have known many, many friends—have clasped the hands of many that I loved, but in the journey of my life I have never grasped the hand of a better, truer, more unselfish friend than he who lies before us clothed in the perfect peace of death. He loved me living and I love him now.

In youth we front the sun; we live in light without a fear, without a thought of dusk or night. We glory in excess. There is no dread of loss when all is growth and gain. With reckless hands we spend and waste and chide the flying hours for loitering by the way.

The future holds the fruit of joy; the present keeps us from the feast, and so, with hurrying feet we climb the heights and upward look with eager eyes. But when the sun begins to sink and shadows fall in front, and lengthen on the path, then falls upon the heart a sense of loss, and then we hoard the shreds and crumbs and vainly long for what was cast away. And then with miser care we save and spread thin hands before December’s half-fed flickering flames, while through the glass of time we moaning watch the few remaining grains of sand that hasten to their end. In the gathering gloom the fires slowly die, while memory dreams of youth, and hope sometimes mistakes the glow of ashes for the coming of another morn.

But our friend was an exception. He lived in the present; he enjoyed the sunshine of to-day. Although his feet had touched the limit of four-score, he had not reached the time to stop, to turn and think: about the traveled road. He was still full of life and hope, and had the interest of youth in all the affairs of men.

He had no fear of the future—no dread. He was ready for the end. I have often heard him repeat the words of Epicurus: “Why should I fear death? If I am, death is not. If death is, I am not. Why should I fear that which cannot exist when I do?”

If there is, beyond the veil, beyond the night called death, another world to which men carry all the failures and the triumphs of this life; if above and over all there be a God who loves the right, an honest man has naught to fear. If there be another world in which sincerity is a virtue, in which fidelity is loved and courage honored, then all is well with the dear friend whom we have lost.

But if the grave ends all; if all that was our friend is dead, the world is better for the life he lived. Beyond the tomb we cannot see. We listen, but from the lips of mystery there comes no word. Darkness and silence brooding over all. And yet, because we love we hope. Farewell! And yet again, Farewell!

And will there, sometime, be another world? We have our dream. The idea of immortality, that like a sea has ebbed and flowed in the human heart, beating with its countless waves against the sands and rocks of time and fate, was not born of any book or of any creed. It was born of affection. And it will continue to ebb and flow beneath the mists and clouds of doubt and darkness, as long as love kisses the lips of death. We have our dream!


     * An unfinished lecture which Colonel Ingersoll commenced a

few days before his death.

FOR many centuries and by many millions of people, Christ has been worshiped as God. Millions and millions of eulogies on his character have been pronounced by priest and layman, in all of which his praises were measured only by the limitations of language—words were regarded as insufficient to paint his perfections.

In his praise it was impossible to be extravagant. Sculptor, poet and painter exhausted their genius in the portrayal of the peasant, who was in fact the creator of all worlds.

His wisdom excited the wonder, his sufferings the pity and his resurrection and ascension the astonishment of the world.

He was regarded as perfect man and infinite God. It was believed that in the gospels was found the perfect history of his life, his words and works, his death, his triumph over the grave and his return to heaven. For many centuries his perfection, his divinity—have been defended by sword and fire.

By the altar was the scaffold—in the cathedral, the dungeon—the chamber of torture.

The story of Christ was told by mothers to their babes. For the most part his story was the beginning and end of education. It was wicked to doubt—infamous to deny.

Heaven was the reward for belief and hell the destination of the denier.

All the forces of what we call society, were directed against investigation. Every avenue to the mind was closed. On all the highways of thought, Christians placed posts and boards, and on the boards were the words “No Thoroughfare,” “No Crossing.” The windows of the soul were darkened—the doors were barred. Light was regarded as the enemy of mankind.

During these Christian years faith was rewarded with position, wealth and power. Faith was the path to fame and honor. The man who investigated was the enemy, the assassin of souls. The creed was barricaded on every side, above it were the glories of heaven—below were the agonies of hell. The soldiers of the cross were strangers to pity. Only traitors to God were shocked by the murder of an unbeliever. The true Christian was a savage. His virtues were ferocious, and compared with his vices were beneficent. The drunkard was a better citizen than the saint. The libertine and prostitute were far nearer human, nearer moral, than those who pleased God by persecuting their fellows.

The man who thought, and expressed his thoughts, died in a dungeon—on the scaffold or in flames.

The sincere Christian was insane. His one object was to save his soul. He despised all the pleasures of sense. He believed that his nature was depraved and that his desires were wicked.

He fasted and prayed—deserted his wife and children—inflicted tortures on himself and sought by pain endured to gain the crown. * * *


     * Written for Mr. Harrison Grey Fiske, editor of The New

York Dramatic Mirror, December 18, 1886.


BORN of love and hope, of ecstasy and pain, of agony and fear, of tears and joy—dowered with the wealth of two united hearts—held in happy arms, with lips upon life’s drifted font, blue-veined and fair, where perfect peace finds perfect form—rocked by willing feet and wooed to shadowy shores of sleep by siren mother singing soft and low—looking with wonder’s wide and startled eyes at common things of life and day—taught by want and wish and contact with the things that touch the dimpled flesh of babes—lured by light and flame, and charmed by color’s wondrous robes—learning the use of hands and feet, and by the love of mimicry beguiled to utter speech—releasing prisoned thoughts from crabbed and curious marks on soiled and tattered leaves—puzzling the brain with crooked numbers and their changing, tangled worth—and so through years of alternating day and night, until the captive grows familiar with the chains and walls and limitations of a life.

And time runs on in sun and shade, until the one of all the world is wooed and won, and all the lore of love is taught and learned again. Again a home is built with the fair chamber wherein faint dreams, like cool and shadowy vales, divide the billowed hours of love. Again the miracle of a birth—the pain and joy, the kiss of welcome and the cradle-song drowning the drowsy prattle of a babe.

And then the sense of obligation and of wrong—pity for those who toil and weep—tears for the imprisoned and despised—love for the generous dead, and in the heart the rapture of a high resolve.

And then ambition, with its lust of pelf and place and power, longing to put upon its breast distinction’s worthless badge. Then keener thoughts of men, and eyes that see behind the smiling mask of craft—flattered no more by the obsequious cringe of gain and greed—knowing the uselessness of hoarded gold—of honor bought from those who charge the usury of self-respect—of power that only bends a coward’s knees and forces from the lips of fear the lies of praise. Knowing at last the unstudied gesture of esteem, the reverent eyes made rich with honest thought, and holding high above all other things—high as hope’s great throbbing star above the darkness of the dead—the love of wife and child and friend.

Then locks of gray, and growing love of other days and half-remembered things—then holding withered hands of those who first held his, while over dim and loving eyes death softly presses down the lids of rest.

And so, locking in marriage vows his children’s hands and crossing others on the breasts of peace, with daughters’ babes upon his knees, the white hair mingling with the gold, he journeys on from day to day to that horizon where the dusk is waiting for the night.—At last, sitting by the holy hearth of home as evening’s embers change from red to gray, he falls asleep within the arms of her he worshiped and adored, feeling upon his pallid lips love’s last and holiest kiss.


Fac-simile of the Last Letter written by Ingersoll
Urn Containing the Ashes of Ingersoll