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Robert Ingersoll

“44 Complete Lectures”
by Robert G. Ingersoll
Copyright 1924 by M.A. Donohue & Company
Chicago - New York


Blasphemy by Robert G. Ingersoll
What Happened When the World Crushed the Infidel

To an audience which was only limited by the size of the Brooklyn Theatre, Col. Ingersoll lectured last evening on his new topic "Blasphemy." This is the first city in which he has delivered this lecture. His oration was as follows:

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: There is an old story of a missionary trying to convert an Indian. The Indian made a little circle in the sand and said, "That is what the Indian knows." Then he made another circle a little larger and said, "That is what missionary knows, but outside there the Indian knows just as much as missionary." (Laughter.) I am going to talk mostly outside that circle to-night.

First -- What is the origins of the crime known as blasphemy? It is the belief in a god who is cruel, revengeful, quick-tempered and capricious; a god who punishes the innocent for the guilty; a god who listens with delight to the shrieks of the tortured and gazes enraptured on their spurting blood. You must hold this belief before you can believe in the doctrine of blaphemy. You must believe that this god loves ceremonies, that this god knows certain men to whom he has told all his will. It then follows that, if this god loves ceremonies and has certain men to teach his will and perform these ceremonies, these men must have a place to live in. This place was called a temple, and it was sacred. (Laughter.) And the pots and pans and kettles and all in it were sacred too. No one but the priests must touch them. Then the god wrote a book in which he told his covenants to men, and gave this book to priests to interpret. While it was sacrilege to touch with the hands the pots and pans of the temple, it was blasphemy to doubt or question anything in that book. And then the right to think was gone, and the right to use the brain God had given was taken away, and religion was entrenched behind that citadel called blasphemy. God was a kind of juggler. He did not wish man to be impudent or curious about how he did things. You must sit in audience and watch the tricks and ask no questions. In front of every fact he has hung the impenetrable curtain of blasphemy. Now then, all the little reason that poor man had is useless. To say anything against the priest was blasphemy and to say anything against God was blasphemy -- to ask a question was blaphemy. Finally we sank to the level of fetishism. We began to worship inanimate things. If you will read your Bible you will find that the Jews had a sacred box. In it were the rod of Aaron and a piece of manna and the tables of stone. To touch this box was a crime. You remember that one time when a careless Jew thought the box was going to tip he held it. God killed him. (Laughter.) What a warning to baggage smashers of the present day. (Great applause.)

We find that also God concocted a hair oil and threatened death to any one who imitated it. And we see that He also made a certain perfume and it was death to make anything that smelt like it. It seems to me that is carrying protection too far. (Laughter.) It always had been blasphemy to say "I do not know whether God exists or not." In all Catholic countries it is blasphemy to doubt the Bible, to doubt the sacredness of the relics. It always has been blasphemy to laugh at a priest, to ask questions, to investigate the Trinity. In a world of superstition reason is blasphemy. In a world of ignorance facts are blasphemy. In a world of cruelty sympathy is a crime, and in a world of lies truth is blasphemy. Who are the real blasphemers? Webster offers the definition: blasphemy is an insult offered to God by attributing to Him a nature and qualities differing from His real nature and qualities and dishonoring him. A very good definition, if you only know what His nature and qualities are. (Laughter.) But that is not revealed; for, studying Him through the medium of the Bible, we find him illimitably contradictory. He commands us not to work on the Sabbath day, because it is holy. Yet God works himself on the Sabbath day. The sun, moon and stars swing round in their orbits, and all the creation attributed to this God goes on as other days. He says: "Honor thy father and mother," and yet this God, in the person of Christ, offered honors, and glory, and happiness an hundred fold to any who would desert their father, and mother for him. Thou shalt not kill, yet God killed the first-born of Egypt, and he commanded Joshua to kill all his enemies, not sparing old or young, man, woman or child, even an unborn child. "Thou shalt not commit adultery," he says, and yet this God gave the wives of defeated enemies to his soldiers of Joshua's army. Then again he says, "Thou shalt not steal." By this command he protected the inanimate property and the cattle of one man against the hand of another, and yet this God who said, "Thou shalt not steal," established human slavery. The products of industry were not to be interfered with, but the producer might be stolen as often as possible. "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." And yet the God who said this said also, "I have sent lying spirits unto Ahab." The only commandment he really kept was, "Thou shalt have none other Gods but me." Is it blasphemous to describe this God as malicious? You know that laughter is a good index of the character of a man. You like and rejoice with the man whose laugh is free and joyous and full of good will. You fear and dislike him of the sneering laugh. How does God laugh? He says, "I will laugh at their calamity, and mock at their misfortune," speaking of some who have sinned. Think of the malice and malignity of that in an infinite God when speaking of the sufferings he is going to impose upon his children. You know that it is said of a Roman emperor that he wrote laws very finely, and posted them so high on the walls that no one could read them, and then he punished the people who disobeyed the laws. That is the acme of tyranny: to provide a punishment for breach of laws the existence of which was unknown. Now we all know that there is a sin against the Holy Ghost which will no be forgiven in this world nor in the world to come. Hundreds of thousands of people have been driven to the lunatic asylum by the thought that they had committed this unpardonable sin. Every educated minister knows that that part of the Bible is an interpolation, but they all preach it. What that sin. Is it blasphemy to describe God specified? I say, "Oh, but, my good god, tell me what this sin is." And he answers, "Maybe now asking is the crime. Keep quiet." So I keep quiet and go about tortured with the fear that I have committed that sin. Is it blasphemy to describe God as needing assistance from the Legislature? (Laughter.) Calling for the aid of a mob to enforce his will here. Compare that God with a man, even with Henry Bergh. (Applause.) See what Mr. Bergh has done to awaken pity in our people and call sympathy to the rescue of suffering animals. And yet our God was a torturer of dumb brutes. Is it blaphemy to say that our god sent the famine and dried the mother's breast from her infant's withered lips? Is it blasphemy to say that he is the author of the pestilence; that he ordered some of his children to consume others with fire and sword? Is it blasphemy to believe what we read in the 109th Psalm? If these things are not blasphemy, then there is no blasphemy. If there be a God I desire Him to write in the book of judgment opposite my name that I denied these lines for him. (Great applause.) Let us taken another step; let us examine the Presbyterian confession of faith. If it be possible to commit blasphemy, then I contend that the Presbyterian creed is most blasphemous, for, according to that, God is a cruel, unrelenting, revengeful, malignant and utterly unreasonable tyrant. I propose now to pay a little attention to that creed. First, it confesses that there is such a thing as a light of nature. It is sufficient to make man inexcusable but not sufficient for salvation; just light enough to lead man to hell. Now imagine a man who will put a false light on a hilltop to lure a ship to destruction. What would we say of that man? What can we say of a God who gives this false light of nature which, if its lessons are followed, results in hell? That is the Presbyterian God. I don't like Him. (Laughter.) Now it occurred to God that the light of nature was somewhat weak, and He thought He'd like another burner. (Great laughter.) Therefore He made His book and gave it to His servants, the priests, that they might give it to men. It was to be accepted not on the authority of Moses, or any other writer, but because it was the word of God. How do you know it's the word of God? You're not to take the word of Moses, or David, or Jeremiah, or Isaiah, or any other man, because the authenticity of their work has nothing to do with the matter; this creed expressly lets them out. (Laughter.) How are you to know it is God's word? Because it is God's word. Why is it God's word? What proof have we that it is God's word? Because it is God's word. Now, then, I find that the next thing in this wonderful confession of faith of the Presbyterians is the decree of predestination. (Reads the decree.) I am please to assure you that it is not necessary to understand this. (Laughter.) You have only to believe it. (Laughter.) You see that by decree of God some men angels are predestinated to heaven and others to eternal hell, and you observe that their number is so certain and definite that it can neither be changed or altered. You are asked to believe that billions of years ago this God knew the names of all the men and women whom He was going to save. Had 'em in His book, that being the only thing except Himself that then existed. He had chosen the names by the aid of the secret council. The reason they called it secret was because they know all about it. (Laughter.)

In making His choice God was not at all bigoted. He did not choose John Smith because he foresaw that Smith was to be a Presbyterian, and was to possess a loving nature, was to be honest and true and noble in all his ways, doing good himself and encouraging others in the same. Oh no! He was quite as likely to pick Brown in spite of the fact that he knew long before that Brown would be a wicked wretch. You see he was just as apt to send Smith to the devil and take Brown to heaven -- and all for "his glory." This God also blinds and hardens--ah! he's a peculiar God. If sinners persevere, he will blind and harden and give them over at last to their own wickedness instead of trying to reclaim and save them. Now we come to the comforting doctrine of the total depravity of man, and this leads us to consider how he came that way. Can any person read the first chapters of Genesis and believe them unless his logic was assassinated in the cradle? We read that our first parents were placed in a pleasant garden; that they were given the full run of the place and only forbidden to meddle with the orchard; that they were tempted as God knew they were to be tempted; that they fell as God knew they would fall, and that for this fall which He knew would happen before He made them he fixed the curse of original sin upon them, to be continued to all their children. Why didn't He stop right there? Why didn't He kill Adam and Eve and make another pair who didn't like apples? Then when He brought His flood why did He rescue eight people if their descendants were to be so totally depraved and wicked? Why didn't He have His flood first and then drown the devil? (Laughter.) That would have solved the problem, and He could have tried experiments unmolested. The Presbyterian confession says this corruption was in all men. It was born with them, it lived through their life, and after death survived in the children. Well, can't man help himself? No. I'll show you. God's got him. (Laughter.) Listen to this. (Reads extracts.) So that a natural man is not only dead in sin and unable to accomplish salvation, but he is also incapable of preparing himself therefore. Absolutely incapable of taking a trick. (Great laughter.)

He is saved, is at all, completely by the mercy of God. If that's the case, then why doesn't He convert us all? Oh, He doesn't. He wishes to send the most of us to hell -- to show His justice. (Laughter and applause.) Elect infants dying in infancy are regenerate. So also are all persons incapable of unbelief. That includes insane persons and idiots, because an idiot is incapable of unbelief. Idiots are the only fellows who've got the deadwood on God. (Laughter and applause.)
Then according to this the man who has lived according to the light of nature, doing the best he knew how to make this earth happy, will be damned by God because he never heard of His Son. Whose fault is it that an infinite God does not advertise? (Great laughter.) Something wrong about that. I am inclined to think that the Presbyterian Church is wrong. (Applause.) I find here how utterly unpardonable sin is. There is no sin so small but it is punished with hell, and away you go straight to the deepest burning pit unless your heart has been purified by this confession of faith -- unless this snake has crawled in there and made itself a nest. Why should we help religion? I would like people to ask themselves that question. (Loud applause.) An infinite God, by practicing a reasonable economy, can get along without our assistance. Loudly this confession proclaims that salvation comes from Christ alone. What, then, becomes of the savage who, having never heard the name of Christ, has lived according to the light of nature, kind and heroic and generous, and possessed of and cultivating all the natural virtues? He goes to hell. (Laughter.) God, you see, loves us. (Laughter.) If He had not loved us what would He have done? The light of nature then shows that God is good and therefore to be feared -- on account of His goodness (laughter) to be served and honored without ceasing. And yet this creed says that on the last day God will damn anyone who has walked according to this light. It's blasphemy to walk by the light of nature. (Laughter.) The next great doctrine is on the preservation of the saints. Now, there are peculiarities about saints. (Laughter.) They are saints without their own knowledge or free will; they may even be down on saints (laughter), but it's no good. God has got a rolling hitch on them, and they have to come into the kingdom sooner or later. (Laughter.) It all depends on whether they have been elected or not. God could have made me a saint just as easy as not, but He passed me by. (Laughter.) Now you know the Presbyterians say I trample on holy things. They believe in hell and I come and say there is no hell. I hurt their hearts, they say, and they add that I am going to hell myself. (Laughter.) I thank them for that, but now let's see what these tender Presbyterians say of other churches. Here it is:

This confession of faith calls the pope of Rome antichrist and a son of perdition. Now there are forty Roman Catholics to one Presbyterian on this earth. Do not the Presbyterians rather trample on the things that are holy to the Roman Catholics, and do they respect their feelings? But the Presbyterians have a pope for themselves, composed of the presbyters and preachers. This confession attributes to them the keys of heaven and hell and the power to forgive sins. (Here extracts are read.) Therefore these men must be infallible, for God would never be so foolish as to entrust fallible men with the keys of heaven and hell. I care nothing for their keys nor for any world these keys would open or lock. I prefer the country. (Applause and laughter.) * *

We are told by this faith that at the last day all the men and women and children who have ever lived on earth will appear in the self same bodies they have had when on earth. Everyone who knows anything knows the constant exchange which is going on between the vegetable and animal kingdom. The millions of atoms which compose our bodies have all come from animals and vegetables, and they in their turn drew them from animals and vegetables which preceded them. The same atoms which are now in our bodies have previously been in the bodies of our ancestors. A man has many times been mahogany and mahogany many times man. (Laughter.) A missionary goes to the cannibal islands and a cannibal eats him and dies. The atoms which composed the missionary's body now composes in great part the cannibal's body. (Laughter.) To whom will these atoms belong in the morning of the resurrection? (Laughter.) * * How did the devil, who had always lived in heaven among the best society, ever happen to become bad? If a man surround by angels could become bad, why cannot a man surrounded by devils become good? * *

Here is the last Presbyterian joy. At the day of judgment the righteous shall be caught up to heaven and shall stand at the right hand of Christ, and share with him in judging the wicked. Then the Presbyterian husband may have the ineffable pleasure of judging his wife and condemning her to eternal hell, and the boy will say to his mother, echoing the command of God -- "Depart thou accursed into everlasting torment!" Here will come a man who has not believed in God. He was a soldier who took up arms to free the salves and who rotted to death in Andersonville prison rather than accept the offer of his captors to fight against freedom. He loved his wife and his children and his home and his native country and all mankind, and did all the good he knew. God will say to the Presbyterians, "What shall we do to this man?" and they will answer, "Throw him into hell." (Laughter.) Last night there was a fire in Philadelphia, and at a window fifty feet above the ground Mr. King stood amid flame and smoke and pressed his children to his breast one after the other, kissed them, and threw them to the rescuers with a prayer. That was man. At the last day God takes His children with a curse and hurls them into eternal fire. That's your God as the Presbyterians describe Him. Do you believe that God -- if there is one -- will ever damn me for thinking Him better than He is? If this creed be true God is the insane keeper of a mad house. We have in this city a clergyman who contends that this creed gives a correct picture of God, and furthermore says that God has the right to do with us what He pleases -- because He made us. If I could change this lamp into a human being, that would not give me the right to torture him, and if I did torture him and he cried out, "Why torturest thou me?" and I replied, "Because I made you," he would be right in replying, "You made me, therefore you are responsible for my happiness." No God has a right to add to the sum of human misery. And yet this minister believes an honest thought blasphemy. No doubt he is perfectly honest. Otherwise he would have too much intellectual pride to take the position he does. He says that the Bible offers the only restraint to the savage passions of man. In lands were there has been no Bible there have been mild and beneficent philosophers, like Buddha and Confucius. Is it possible that the Bible is the only restraint, and yet the nations among whom these men lived have been as moral as we? In Brooklyn and New York you have the Bible, yet do you find that the restraint is a great success? Is there a city on the globe which lacks more in certain directions than some in Christendom, or even the United States? (Laughter.)

What are the natural virtues of man? Honesty, hospitality, mercy in the hour of victory, generosity -- do we not find these virtues among some savages? Do we find them among all Christians? (Applause.) I am also told by these gentlemen that the time will come when the infidel will be silenced by society. Why that time came long ago. Society gave the hemlock to Socrates. Society in Jerusalem cried out for Barrabas and crucified Jesus. In every Christian country society has endeavored to crush the infidel. Blasphemy is a padlock which hypocrisy tries to put on the lips of all honest men. At one time Christianity succeeded in silencing the infidel, and then came the dark ages when all rule was ecclesiastical, when the air was filled with devils and spooks, when birth was a misfortune, life a prolonged misery of fear and torment, and death a horrible nightmare. They crushed the infidels. Galileo, Kepler, Copernicus, wherever a ray of light appeared in ecclesiastical darkness. But I want to tell this minister to-night, and all others like him, that that day is past. (Cheers and great applause.) All the churches in the United States cannot even crush me. (Renewed cheering.) The day for that has gone, never to return. If they think they can crush free thought in this country, let them try it. What must this minister think of you and the citizens of this republic when he says, "Take the fear of hell out of men's hearts and a majority of them will become ungovernably wicked." Oh, think of an angel in heaven having to allow that he was scared there. This minister call for my arrest. He thinks his God needs help, and would like to see the police crush the infidel. I would advise Mr. Talmage (hisses) to furnish his God with a rattle, so that when He is in danger again He can summon the police immediately. (Laughter.) I'll tell you what is blasphemy. It is blasphemy to live on the fruits of other men's labor, to prevent growth of the human mind, to persecute the growth of the human mind, to persecute for opinion's sake, to abuse your wife and children, to increase in any manner the sum of human misery. I'll tell you what is sacred. Our bodies are sacred, our rights are sacred, justice and liberty are sacred. I'll tell you what is the true Bible. It is the sum of all actual knowledge of man, and every man who discovers a new fact adds a new verse to this Bible. It is different from the other Bible because that is the sum of all that its writers and readers do not know. (Applause.)

Robert G. Ingersoll's Response to Delaware Grand Jury

WASHINGTON, Feb. 13, 1882 — No attack upon Col. Ingersoll has attracted so much attention as the recent charge of Chief Justice Comegys to the Delaware grand jury. Every one has been looking to the eloquent radical for a reply. For several days he has been silent, too much occupied with his large law business to give the subject attention. This morning the Time's correspondent succeeded in persuading Col. Ingersoll to make his answer to the Delaware judge through the columns of the Times.

“Have you read Chief Justice Comegys' compliments to you before the Delaware grand jury?”

“Yes, I have seen his charge, in which he relies upon the law passed in 1740. After reading his charge, it seemed to me as though he had died about the date of the law, had risen from the dead, and gone right on where he left off. I presume he is a good man, but compared with other men something like his state when compared with other states. A great many people will probably regard the charge of Judge Comegys as unchristian, but I do not. I consider that the law of Delaware is in exact accord with the bible, and that the pillory, the whipping-post, and the suppression of free speech, are the natural fruit of the Old and New Testament. Delaware is right. Christianity cannot succeed, cannot exist, without the protection of law. Take from orthodox Christianity the protection of law, and all church property would be taxed like other property. The Sabbath would be no longer a day devoted to superstition. Every one could express his honest thought upon every possible subject. Every one, notwithstanding his belief, could testify in a court of justice. In other words, honesty, would be on an equality with hypocrisy. Science would stand on a level, so far as the law is concerned, with superstition. Whenever this happens, the end of orthodox Christianity will be near. By Christianity I do not mean charity, mercy, kindness, forgiveness; I mean no natural mercy, because all the natural virtues existed and had been practiced by hundreds and thousands of millions before Christ was born. There certainly were some good men even in the days of Christ in Jerusalem, before His death. By Christianity I mean the ideas of redemption, atonement, a good man dying for a bad man; and the bad man; getting a receipt in full. By Christianity I mean that system that insists that in the next world a few will be forever happy, while the many will be eternally miserable.

“Christianity, as I have explained it, must be protected, guarded and sustained by law. It was founded by the sword — that is to say by physical force — and must be preserved by like means. In many of the states of the Union an infidel is not allowed to testify. In the state of Delaware, if Alexander Von Humboldt were living, he could not be a witness, although he had more brains than the state of Delaware has ever produced, or is likely to produce as long as the laws of 1740 remain in force. Such men as Huxley, Tyndall, and Haeckel could be fined and imprisoned in the state of Delaware, and, in fact, in many states of this Union. Christianity, is order to defend itself, puts the brand of infamy on the brow of honesty. Christianity marks with a letter 'C,' standing for 'convict', every brain that is great enough to discover the frauds. I have no doubt but that Judge Comegys is a good and sincere Christian. I believe that he in his charge gives an exact reflection of the Jewish Jehovah. I believe that every word he said was in exact accord with the spirit of orthodox Christianity. Against this man personally I have nothing to say. I know nothing of his character except as I gather it from this charge, and after reading the charge I am forced simply to say, Judge Comegys is a Christian.

"It seems, however, that the grand jury dared to take no action, notwithstanding they had been counseled to do so by the Judge. Although the judge had quoted to them the words of George I. of blessed memory; although he had quoted to them the words of Lord Mansfield, who became a judge simply because of his hatred of the English colonists, simply because he despised liberty in the new world; notwithstanding the fact that I could have been punished with insult, with imprisonment and with stripes, and with every form of degradation; notwithstanding that only a few years ago I could have been branded upon the forehead, bored through the tongue, maimed and disfigured, still, such has been the advance even in the state of Delaware, owing, it may be in great part to the one lecture delivered by me, that the grand jury absolutely refused to indict me. The grand jury satisfied themselves and their consciences simply by making a report in which they declared that my lecture had 'no parallel in the habits of respectable vagabondism;' that I was an 'arch blasphemer and reviler of God and religion,' and recommended that should I ever attempt to lecture again I should be taught 'that in Delaware blasphemy is a crime punishable by fine and imprisonment.' I have no doubt but what every member of the grand jury signing this report was entirely honest; that he acted in exact accord with what he understood to be the demand of the Christian religion. I must admit that for Christians the report is exceedingly mild and gentle. I have now in the house letters that passed between certain bishops in the fifteenth century, in which they discussed the propriety of cutting out the tongues of heretics before they were burned. Some of the bishops were in favor of and some against it. One argument for cutting out their tongues which seemed to have settled the question was that unless the tongues of heretics were cut out they might scandalize the gentlemen who were burning them by blasphemous remarks during the fire. I would commend these letters to Judge Comegys and the members of his grand jury.

I want it distinctly understood that I have nothing against Judge Comegys or the grand jury. They act as most anybody would, raised in Delaware, in the shadow of the whipping-post and the pillory. We must remember that Delaware was a slave state; that the Bible became extremely dear to the people because it upheld the peculiar institution. We must remember that the Bible was the block on which mother and child stood for sale when they were separated by the Christians of Delaware. The Bible was regarded as the title papers to slavery, and as the book of all books that gave the right to masters to whip mothers and to sell children. There are many offenses now for which the punishment is whipping and standing in the pillory; where persons are convicted of certain crimes and sent to the penitentiary, and upon being discharged from the penitentiary are furnished by the state with a dark jacket plainly marked on the back with a large Roman 'C,' the letter to be of a light color. This they are to wear for six months after being discharged, and if they are found at any time without the dark jacket and the illuminated 'C,' they are to be punished with twenty lashes upon the bare back.

The object, I presume, of this law is to drive from the state all the discharged convicts for the benefit of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland — that is to say, other Christian communities. A cruel people make cruel laws. The objection I have to the whipping-post is that it is a punishment which can not be inflicted by a gentleman. The person who administers the punishment must, of necessity, be fully as degraded as the person who receives it. I am opposed to any kind of punishment that cannot be administered by a gentleman. I am opposed to corporal punishment everywhere. It should be taken from the asylums and penitentiaries, and any man who would apply the lash to the bare back of another is beneath the contempt of honest people.”

Oration at a Child's Grave

WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 9.--In a remote corner of the Congressional Cemetery yesterday afternoon, a small group of people with uncovered heads were ranged around a newly-opened grave. They included Detective and Mrs. George O. Miller and family and friends, who had gathered to witness the burial of the former's bright little son Harry, a recent victim of diphtheria. As the casket rested upon the trestles there was a painful pause, broken only by the mother's sobs, until the undertaker advanced toward a stout, florid-complexioned gentleman in the party and whispered to him, the words being inaudible to the looker-on.

The gentleman was Col. Robert G. Ingersoll, a friend of the Millers, who had attended the funeral at their request. He shook his head when the undertaker first addressed him, and then said suddenly, "Does Mrs. Miller desire it?"

The undertaker gave an affirmative nod. Mr. Miller looked appealingly toward the distinguished orator, and then Col. Ingersoll advanced to the side of the grave, made a motion denoting a desire for silence, and, in a voice of exquisite cadence, delivered one of his characteristic eulogies for the dead. The scene was intensely dramatic. A fine drizzling rain was falling, and every head was bent, and every ear turned to catch the impassioned words of eloquence and hope that fell from the lips of the famed orator.

Col. Ingersoll was unprotected by either hat or umbrella, and his invocation thrilled his hearers with awe, each eye that had previously been bedimmed with tears brightening and sobs becoming hushed. The Colonel said:

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 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 greatest blessing, life or death. We cannot say that death is not 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 mothers 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 the question as intelligently and satisfactorily as the robed priest of the most authentic creed. The tearful ignorance of the one is just 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. It may be that death gives all there is of worth to life. If those who press and strain against our hearts could never die, perhaps that love would wither from the earth. May be a common faith treads from out the paths between our hearts the weeds of selfishness, and I should rather live and love where death is king than have eternal life where love is not. Another life is naught, unless we know and love again the ones who love us here. They who stand with breaking hearts around this little grave have no fear. The largest and the noblest 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, there grief will lessen day by day until at last these graves will be to them a place of rest and peace, and almost 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."

At the conclusion of the eloquent oration the little coffin was deposited in its last resting place covered with flowers.

Comment on Ingersoll's Oration
Chicago Tribune, Jan. 14, 1882

Chicago, Jan. 13. -- In this morning's Tribune you quote from Col. Ingersoll's remarks at the grave of the little boy in Washington and ask: "Is Mr. Ingersoll beginning to experience a change of heart, and is he hedging the way for his return to the belief of his fathers Or is he assailing that faith in one place and in another using what he terms the 'mummeries' of that faith to rob the grave of its terrors? If the latter, then the man is insincere!"

I think you do not quite correctly expound Mr. Ingersoll. His position is that of profound recognition of the infinite mysteries of life and death, and a frank and honest confession that he is helpless in the presence of these "kings," and unable to explain them; also that the representatives of the most authentic creeds, in fact, are as helpless as he is, and with all their pretensions to knowledge know no more than he does.

Who knows whether "the grave is the end of this life or the door of another"? Does not Mr. Ingersoll know as much about that great unanswered question as the recognized representatives of the creeds? If not, why not? Is there any secret knowledge that is not accessible to men of Mr. Ingersoll's intellect? "It may be that death gives all there is of worth in life." That is, ushers us into a new life which is the culmination and fruitation of this life. Who knows? And who knows more or better than you, Mr. Editor, or I, or Mr. Ingersoll, except those who have passed the gates of death? Are there any arguments, or philosophies, or revelations, or facts of science not accessible to Mr. Ingersoll that are known to a priest, or a Pope, or a Doctor of Divinity?

In all departments of human thought except religion, actual facts, discoveries, and established principles only are relied upon. Why should this not be the rule in religious investigation? It is true all men may and must speculate beyond the regions of actual explorations and survey. Discoveries, or the germs thereof, are first found in the imagination. Imagination is the pioneer corps of the mind. The creedmakers and upholders have a right, and it is laudable to speculate. It is all right to use the imagination , and build theories upon assumed facts; but it is not proper to claim actual knowledge and infallible law and hard facts, when there is nothing but speculation and guesswork. Mr. Ingersoll has directed his wit at these assumptions of the clergy. This is the head and front of his offending. He has stopped at the line which separates, so far as known, the known from the unknowable; while the clergy have pretended to know, as well, what is beyond that line as they do what is this side of it, and sometimes even better. It is to this assumption that Mr. Ingersoll directs his terrible batteries.

He has many times said that it would be no more wonderful for man to live hereafter than to live now. But who knows that he actual does live hereafter? Do the clergy? All men know that D.D. does not stand for any more, intellectually or spiritually, than A. B. or LL. D.-not an iota. This age is peculiar. It has thought more profoundly on the great problems of life and death than any preceding age, perhaps. If our thinkers have made no new discoveries of positive truth they have found out negatively that they do not know many things that have been taught as verities.

They deal in negatives because that which is not known to be true is positively asserted in the bulk of the creeds. There is discernible in all this negative thought progress toward a higher, a broader positivism.

Why should mankind be able in an early and unenlightened age to reach a finality on the profound problems of religion, when ignorance was equally profound on most of the common questions of this world and this life? Why should religion come by unnatural processes, cross-lots, and in a lump, to ignorant men, who geography, geology, chemistry, astronomy, political economy, social science, physiology, architecture, and all branches of human thought and correct conduct come by slow degrees and in in a natural way to wisest men at first and by the profoundest research?

These questions are being widely considered by the common people, both in the churches and outside of the churches, and the Ingersolls and the subjects of the creed expounders are getting nearer and nearer together every day, and ancient positivism is crumbling rapidly to pieces, and new and profounder, and more rational theories are taking its place.

— A.J. Grover

The Great Infidels

History of Human Progress Written in the Lives and Careers of Doubters and Agnostics — Chicago Tribune, May 5, 1881.

NEW YORK, May 1. — Robert G. Ingersoll delivered another new lecture this evening to an immense audience. Booth's Theater was found to be too small for the crowd which flocked to hear him last Sunday night, so for this occasion he secured the Academy of Music. The change proved disastrous to ticket speculators, for there was room in the great building for all who came, and before the lecture began, scalpers were selling on the sidewalks at box office prices. The audience was highly intelligent, and listened attentively for two hours and ten minutes to probably Ingersoll's best effort. There were not less than 3,000 persons present. The title of the lecture was “The Great Infidels.” The lecturer appeared on stage at 8:20, and placing the manuscript on the desk, broke into the subject at once. He spoke as follows:
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: There is nothing grander in this world than to rescue from the leprosy of slander a great and splendid name. (Applause.) There is nothing nobler than to benefit our benefactors. The infidels of one age have been the aureole saints of the next. The destroyers of the old have always been the creators of the new. The old passes away and the new becomes old. There in the intellectual world, as in the material, decay and growth; and ever by the sunken grave of age stand youth and joy. The history of progress is written in the lives of infidels. Political rights have been preserved by traitors; intellectual rights by infidels. (Applause.) To attack the Kings was treason; to dispute the priests blasphemy. The sword and cross have always been allies; they defended each other. The throne and altar are twins,—vultures born of the same egg. It was James I. who said: “No King no Bishop; no church no crown; no tyrant in Heaven no tyrant on earth.” (Applause.) Every monarchy that has disgraced the world, every despotism that has covered the cheeks of men with fear has been copied after the supposed despotism of Hell. The King owned the bodies and the priest owned the souls; one lived on taxes and the other on alms; one was a robber and the other a beggar. (Applause and laughter.) The history of the world will not show you one charitable beggar. He who lives on charity never has anything to give away. The robbers and beggars controlled not only this world, but the next. The King made laws, the priest made creeds; with bowed backs the people received and bore the burdens of the one, and with the open mouth of wonder the creed of the other. If any aspired to be free they were crushed by the King, and every priest was a hero who slaughtered the children of the brave. The King ruled by force, the priest by fear and by the Bible. The King said to the people: "God made you peasants and me a King; He clothed you in rags and housed you in hovels; upon me He put robes and gave me a palace." Such is the justice of God. The priest said to the people: “God made you ignorant and vile; me holy and wise; obey me or God will punish you here and hereafter.” Such is the mercy of God. (Applause.) Infidels are the intellectual discoverers. Infidels have sailed the unknown sea and have discovered the isles and continents in the vast realms of thought. What would the world have been had infidels never existed? What the infidel is in religion the inventor is in mechanics. What the infidel is in religion the man willing to fight the hosts of tyranny is in the political world. An infidel is a gentleman who has discovered a fact and is not afraid to talk about it. (Applause.)

There has been for many thousands of year an idea prevalent that in some way you can prove whether the theories defended or advanced by a man are right or wrong by showing what kind of a man he was, what kind of life he lived, and what manner of death he died. There is nothing to this. It make no difference what the character of the man was who made the first multiplication table. It is absolutely true, and whenever you find an absolute fact, it makes no difference who discovered it. The Golden Rule would have been just as good if it had first been whispered by the Devil. (Applause.) It is good for what it contains, not because a certain man said it. Gold is just as good in the hands of crime as in the hands of virtue. Wherever it may be, it is gold. A statement made by a great man is not necessarily true. A man entertains certain opinions, and then he is proscribed because he refuses to change his mind. He is burned to ashes, and in the midst of the flames he cries out that he is of the same opinion still. Hundreds then say that he has sealed his testimony with his blood, and that this doctrine must be true. Al the martyrs in the history of the world are not sufficient to establish the correctness of any one opinion. Martyrdom as a rule establishes the sincerity of the martyr, not the correctness of thought. Things are true or false interdependently of the man who entertains them. Truth cannot be affected by opinion; an error cannot be believed sincerely enough to make it a truth. No Christian will admit that any amount of heroism displayed by a Mormon is sufficient to show that Joseph Smith was an inspired prophet. All the courage and culture, all the poetry and art of ancient Greece do not even tend to establish the truth of any myth. The testimony of the dying, concerning some other world, or in regard to the supernatural, cannot be any better than that of the living. In the early days of Christian experience an intrepid faith was regarded as a testimony in favor of the Church. No doubt in the arms of death many a one went back and died in the lap of the old faith. After awhile Christians got to dying and clinging to their faith; and then it was that Christians began to say: "No man can die serenely without clinging to the cross." According to the theologians, God has always punished the dying who did not happen to believe in Him. As long as men did nothing except to render their fellow-men wretched, God maintained the strictest neutrality, but when some honest man expressed a doubt, as to the Jewish Scriptures, or prayed to the wrong God, or the right God, then the real God leaped like a wounded tiger upon this dying man, and from his body tore a wretched soul. There is no recorded instances where the uplifted hand of murder has been paralyzed, or the innocent have been shielded by God. Thousands of crimes are committed every day and God has no time to prevent them. (Applause.) He is too busy numbering hairs and matching sparrows: He is listening for blasphemy; He is looking for persons who laugh at priests; He is watching professors in college who begin to doubt the geology of Moses or the astronomy of Joshua. All kinds of criminals, except infidels, meet death with reasonable serenity. As a rule, there is nothing in the death of a pirate to cast discredit upon his profession. The murderer upon the scaffold smilingly exhorts the multitude to meet him in Heaven. The Emperor Constantine, who lifted Christianity into power, murdered his wife and oldest sons. Now and then, in the history of the world, there has been a man of genius, a man of intellectual honesty. These men have denounced the superstition of their day. They were honest enough to tell their thoughts. Some of them died naturally in their beds, but it would not do for the Church to admit that they died peaceably; that would show that religion was not necessary in the last moments. The first grave, the first cathedral; the first corpse was the first priest. If there was no death in the world there would be no superstition. The Church has taken great pains to show that the last moments of all infidels have been infinitely wretched. Upon this point Catholics and Protestants have always stood together. They are no longer men; they have become hyenas; they dig open graves. They devour the dead. It is an auto-de-fé presided over by God and his angels. These men believed in the accountability of men in the practice of virtue and justice. They believed in liberty, but they did not believe in the inspiration of the Bible. That was their crime. In order to show that infidels died overwhelmingly with remorse and fear they have generally selected from all the infidels since the days of Christ until now, five men, — the Emperor Julian, Bruno, Diderot, David Hume, and Thomas Paine.

They forgot that Christ himself was not a Christian; that He did what He could to tear down the religion of His day; that He held the temple in contempt. I like Him because He held the old Jewish religion in contempt; because he had sense enough to say that doctrine was not true. In vain have their calumniators been called upon to prove their statements. They simply charge it, they simply relate it, but that is no evidence. The Emperor Julian did what he could to prevent Christians from destroying each other. He held pomp and pride in contempt. In battle with the Persians he was mortally wounded. Feeling that he had but a short time to live, he spent his last hour in discussing with his friends the immortality of the soul. He declared that he was satisfied with his conduct, and that he had no remorse to express for any act he had ever done.

The first great infidel was Giordhna Bruno. He was born in the year of grace 1550. he was a Dominican friar, — Catholic, — and afterwards he changed his mind. The reason he changed was because he had a mind. (Applause.) He was a lover of nature, and said to the poor hermits in their caves, to the poor monks in their monasteries, to the poor nuns in their cells, "Come out in the glad fields; come and breathe fresh, free air; come and enjoy all the beauty there is in this world. There is no God who can be made happier by your being miserable; there is no god who delights to see upon the human face the tears of pain, of grief, of agony; come out and enjoy all there is of human life; enjoy progress, enjoy thought, enjoy being somebody and belonging to yourself." (Applause.) He revolted at the idea of transubstantiation; he revolted at the idea of that the eternal God could be in a wafer. (Laughter). He revolted at the idea that you could make the trinity out of dough,-- bake God in an oven as you would a biscuit. (Laughter.) I should think he would have revolted.

The idea of a man devouring the Creator of the Universe by swallowing a piece of bread. (Laughter). And yet that is just as sensible as any of it. Those who, when smitten on one cheek turn the other, threatened to kill this man. He fled from his native land and was a vagabond in nearly every nation of Europe. He declared that he fought not what men really believed, but what they pretended to believe, and, do you know, that is the business I am in? (Laughter.) I am simply saying what other people think; I am furnishing clothes for their children, I am putting on exhibition their offspring, and they like to hear it, they like to see it. We have passed midnight in the history of this world. Bruno was driven from his native country because he taught the rotation of the earth; you can see what a dangerous man he must have been in a well-regulated monarchy. (Laughter.) You see he had found a fact, and a fact has the same effect upon religion that dynamite has upon a Russian Czar. A fellow with a new fact was suspected and arrested, and they always thought they could destroy it by burning him, but they never did. All the fires of martyrdom never destroyed one truth; all the churches of the world have never made one lie true. (Applause.) Germany and France would not tolerate Bruno. According to the Christian system this world was the center of everything. The stars were made out of what little God happened to have left when He got the world done. (Laughter.) God lived up in the sky, and they said this earth must rest upon something, and finally science passed its hand clear under, and there was nothing. It was self-existent in infinite space. Then the church began to say they didn't say it was flat (laughter) — not so awful flat,—it was kind of rounding. (Laughter). According to the ancient Christians, God lived from all eternity, and never worked but six days in His whole life, and then had the impudence to tell us to be industrious. (Laughter.) I heard of a man going to California over the plains, and there was a clergyman on board and he had a great deal to say, and finally he fell in conversation with the forty-niner, and the latter said to the clergyman, “Do you believe that God made this world in six days?” “Yes, I do.” They were then going along the Humboldt. Says he, “Don't you think He could put in another day to advantage right around here?” (Laughter.) Bruno went to England and delivered lectures at Oxford. He found that there was nothing taught there but superstition, and so called Oxford the "wisdom of learning." Then they told him they didn't want him any more. He went back to Italy, where there was a kind of fascination that drew him back to the very doors of the Inquisition. He was arrested for teaching that there were other worlds, and that stars are suns around which revolve other planets. He was in prison for six years. During those six years Galileo was teaching mathematics; six years in a dungeon, and then he was tried, denounced by the Inquisition, excommunicated, condemned by brute force pushed upon his knees while he received the benediction of the Church, and on the 16th of February, in the year of our Lord 1600, he was burned at the stake. He believed that the world is animated by an intelligent soul, the cause of force, but not of matter, that matter and force have existed from eternity; that this force lives in all things, even in such as appear not to live, in the rock as much as in the man; that matter is the mother of forms and the grace of forms, that the matter and force together constitute God. He was a pantheist,--that is to say, he was an atheist. He had the courage to die for what he believed to be right. The murder of Bruno will never, in my judgment, be completely and perfectly revenged until the city of Rome shall be swept every vestige of priests and pope — (applause); until from the shapeless ruin of St. Peter's, the crumbled Vatican and the fallen cross of Rome, rises a monument sacred to the philosopher, the benefactor, and the martyr—Bruno. (Applause).

Voltaire was born in 1694. When he was born, the natural was about the only thing that the Church did not believe in. Monks sold amulets, and the priests cured in the name of the Church. The worship of the Devil was actually established, which today is the religion of China. They say, "God is good; He won't bother you: Joss is the one." They offer him gifts, and try to soften his heart; so in the Middle ages the poor people tried to see if they could not get a short cut, and trade directly with the Devil, instead of going round-about through the Church. In these days witnesses were cross-examined with instruments of torture. Voltaire did more for human liberty than any other man who ever lived or died. He appealed to the common sense of mankind,--he held up the great contradictions of the sacred Scriptures in a way that no man once having read him could forget. For one, I thank Voltaire for the liberty I am now enjoying this moment. How small a man a priest looked when he pointed his finger at him; how contemptible a King. Toward the last of May, 1778, it was whispered in Paris that Voltaire was dying. He expired with the most perfect tranquility. There have been constructed more shameless lies about the death of this great and wonderful man, compared with who all of his calumniators, living or dead, were but dust and vermin. (Applause.) From his throne at the foot of the Alps he pointed the finger of scorn at every hypocrite in Europe. he was the pioneer of his century.

In 1771, in Scotland, David Hume was born. Scotch Presbyterianism is the worst form of religion that has ever been produced. (Laughter.) The Scotch Kirk had all the faults of the Church of Rome, without a redeeming feature.

The Church hated music, despised painting, abhorred statuary, and held architecture in contempt. Anything touched with humanity, with the weakness of love, with the dimple of joy, was detested by the Scotch Kirk. God was to be feared; God was infinitely practical, no nonsense about God. They used to preach four times a day. They preached on Friday before the Sunday upon which they partook of the sacrament, and then on Saturday; four sermons on Sunday, and two or three on Monday to sober up on. (Laughter.) They were bigoted and heartless. One case will illustrate. In the beginning of this nineteenth century a boy 17 years of age was indicted at Edinburgh for blasphemy. He had given it as his opinion that Moses had learned magic in Egypt, and had fooled the Jews. (Laughter.) They proved that on two or three occasions, when he was real cold, he jocularly remarked that he wished he was in Hell, so that he could warm up. (Laughter.) He was tried, convicted, and sentenced to be hanged. He recanted; he even wrote that he believed the whole business, and that he just said it for pure devilment. It made no difference. They hung him, and his bruised and bleeding corpse was denied to his own mother, who came and besought them to let her take her boy home. That was Scotch Presbyterianism. If the Devil had been let loose in Scotland he would have improved that country at that time. (Laughter.) David Hume was one of the few Scotchmen who was not owned by the church. He had the courage to examine things for himself, and to give his conclusion to the world. His life was unstained by an unjust act. He did not, like Abraham turn a woman from his door with his child in her arms. (Applause.) He did not like King David, murder a man that he might steal his wife. (Applause.) He didn't believe in Scotch Presbyterianism. I don't see how any good men ever did. Just think of going to the day of judgment, if there is one, and standing up before God and admitting without a blush that you have lived and died a Scotch Presbyterian. (Laughter.) I would expect the next sentence would be, “Depart ye, cursed in everlasting fire.” (Laughter.) Hume took the ground that a miracle could not be used as evidence until you had proved the miracle. Of course that excited the Church. Why? Because they could not prove one of them. How are you going to prove a miracle? Who saw it, and who would know a devil if he did see him? (Laughter.) Hume insisted that at the bottom of all good is something useful; that after all, human happiness was the great object, end, and aim of life; that virtue was not a termagant, with sunken cheeks and frightful eyes, but was the most beautiful thing in the world, and would strew your path with flowers from the cradle to the grave. When he died they gave an account of how he suffered. They knew that the horror of death would fall upon him, and that God would get his revenge. But his attending physician said that his death was the most serenest and most perfectly tranquil of any he had ever seen. Adam Smith said he was as near perfect as the frailty incident to humanity would allow human being to be. The next is Benedict Spinoza, a Jew, born at Amsterdam in 1632. He studied theology, and asked the rabbis too many questions, and talked too much about what he called reason and finally he was excommunicated from the synagogue and became an outcast at the age of 24, without friends. Cursed, anathematized, bearing upon his forehead the mark of Cain, he undertook to solve the problem of the universe. To him the universe was one. The infinite embraced the all. That all was God. He was right, the universe is all there is, and if God does not exist in the universe He exists nowhere. The idea of putting some little Jewish Jehovah outside the universe, as if to say tat from an eternity of idleness He woke up one morning and thought He would make something. (Laughter.) The propositions of Spinoza are as luminous as the stars, and his demonstrations, each one of them, is a Gibraltar, behind which logic sits laughing at all the sophistries of theological thought. (Applause.) In every relation of life he was just, true, gentle, patient, loving, affectionate. he died in 1677. In his life of 44 years he had climbed to the very highest alpine of human thought. He was a great and splendid man, an intellectual hero, one of the benefactors, one of the Titans of our race. (Applause.) And now I will say a few words about our infidels. We had three, to say the least,--Paine, Franklin and Jefferson. (Applause.) In their day the colonies were filled with superstition and the Puritans with the spirit of persecution. Law, savage, ignorant and malignant, had been passed in every colony for the purpose of destroying intellectual liberty. Manly freedom was unknown. The toleration act of Maryland tolerated only chickens, not thinkers, not investigators. It tolerated faith not brains. The charity of Roger Williams was not extended to one who denied the Bible. Let me show you how we have advanced. Suppose you took every man and woman out of the penitentiary in New England and shipped them to a new country, where men before had never trod, and told them to make a government, and constitution, and a code of laws for themselves. I say to-night that they would make a better constitution and a better code of laws than any that were made in any of the original thirteen colonies of the United States. (Applause.) Not that they are better men, not that they are more honest, but that they have got more sense. They have been touched with the dawn of eternal day of liberty that will finally come to this world. They would have more respect for others' rights than they had at that time. But the Churches were jealous of each other, and we got a constitution without religion in it from the mutual jealousies of the Church and from the genius of men like Paine, Franklin and Jefferson. (Applause.) We are indebted to them for a constitution without a God in it. They knew that if you put God in there, an infinite God, there wouldn't be any room for the people. (Laughter.) Our fathers retired Jehovah from Politics. (Laughter.) Our fathers, under the directions and leadership of those infidels, said, “All power comes from the consent of the governed.” (Applause.) George Washington wanted to establish a Church by law in Virginia. Thomas Jefferson prevented it. (Applause.) Under the guaranty of liberty of conscience which was given, our legislature has improved, and it will not be many years before all laws touching liberty of conscience, excepting it may be in the state of Delaware (laughter) will be blotted out, and when that time comes we or our children may thank the infidels of 1776. The Church never pretended that Franklin died in fear. Franklin wrote no books against the Bible. He thought it was useless to cast the pearls of thought before the swine of his generation. Jefferson was a statesman. He was the author of the Declaration of Independence, founder of a university, father of a political body, President of the United States, a statesman and a philosopher. He was too powerful for the Churches of his day. Paine attacked the Trinity and the Bible both. He had done these things openly. His arguments were so good that his reputation got bad. (Laughter). I want you to recollect to-night that he was the first man who wrote these words: "The United States of America." (Applause). I want you to know to-night that he was the first man who suggested the Federal Constitution. I want you to know that he did more for the actual separation from Great Britain than any man that ever lived. (Applause.) I want you to know that he did as much for liberty with his pen as any soldier did with his sword. (Applause). I want you to know that during the Revolution his Crisis was the pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day. I want you to know that his Common Sense was the one star in the horizon of despotism. I want you to know that he did as much as any living man to give our free flag to the free air. (Applause.) He was not content to waste all his energies here. When the volcano covered Europe with the shreds of robes and the broken fragments of thrones, Paine went to France. He was elected by four constituencies. He had the courage to vote against the death of Louis, and was imprisoned. He wrote to Washington, the President, and asked him to interfere. Washington threw the letter in the waste basket of forgetfulness. When Paine was finally released, he gave his opinion of George Washington, and under such circumstances, I say, a man can be pardoned for having said even unjust things. (Applause.) The eighteenth century was crowning its gray hairs with the wreaths of progress, and Thomas Paine said: “I will do something to liberate mankind from superstition.”

He wrote the “Age of Reason.” For his good he wrote it too soon; for ours not a day too quick. (Applause.) From that moment he was a despised and calumniated man. When he came back to this country he could not safely walk the streets for fear of being mobbed. Under the Constitution he had suggested, his rights were not safe; under the flag that he had helped give to heaven, with which he had enriched the air, his liberty was not safe. Is it not a disgrace to us all that the lies that have been told about him, are a perpetual disgrace? I tell you that upon the grave of Thomas Paine the Churches of America have sacrificed their reputation for veracity. (Laughter.) Who can hate a man with a creed, “I believe in one God and no more, and I hope for immortality; I believe in the equality of man, and that religious duty consists in doing justice, in doing mercy, and in endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy. It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be faithful to himself. One good schoolmaster is worth a thousand priests. Man has no property in man, and the key to Heaven is in the keeping of no saint.” (Applause.) Grand, splendid, brave man! with some faults, with many virtues; the world is better because he lived,--and, if Thomas Paine had not lived, I could not have delivered this lecture here to-night. (Applause.) Did all the priests of Rome increase the mental wealth of man as much as Bruno? Did all the priests of France do as great a work for the civilization of this world as Diderot and Voltaire? Did all the ministers of Scotland add as much to the sum of human knowledge as David Hume? Have all the clergymen, monks, friars, ministers, priests, Bishops, Cardinals, and Popes from the day of Pentecost to the last election done as much for the human liberty as Thomas Paine? (Applause). What would the world be now if infidels had never been? Infidels have been the flower of all this world. Recollect, by infidels I mean every man who has made an intellectual advance. (Laughter.) By orthodox I mean a gentleman who is petrified in his mind, whopping around intellectually, simply to save the funeral expenses of his soul. (Laughter.) Infidels are the creditors of all the years to come. They have made this world fit to live in, and without them the human brain would be as empty as the chronicles soon will be. (Laughter.) Unless they preach something that the people want to hear, it is not a crime to benefit our fellow men intellectually. The churches point to their decayed saints, and their crumbled Popes, and say, "Do you know more than all the ministers that ever lived? And without the slightest egotism or blush I say, yes, and the name of Humboldt outweighs them all. The men who stand in the front rank, then men who know most of the secrets of nature, the men who know most are to-day the advanced infidels of this world. I have lived long enough to see the brand of intellectual inferiority on every orthodox brain. (Applause.)

The Great Infidels

The Times some time since published a series of papers, under the general caption of "Modern Thinkers," which have been collected and published in book form, with an introduction by Col. Robert G. Ingersoll. This introduction, with the author's preface, is published below. Grouped under the names of diverse and unlike schools of thought, the book presents virtually the successive postulates whose assertion and defense constitute the history of progress toward a social science during the past hundred years. The preface and introduction state who the leaders are. The essay on Swedenborg is, however, a brief history of the historical origin of some of the most vital beliefs in Christianity. That on Adam Smith is a condensed history of a political economy from Quesnay to Cary. That on Thomas Paine is an analysis of the function which the revolutionary spirit performs in developing civilization.


THIS book is both a product and a proof of the extent to which, in America, the daily press, owing to its greater wealth, circulation and enterprise, is performing for the people, as rapidly as the demand arises, the function which in Europe is performed by the reviews--viz., that of supplying discussions of the more abstract elements of politics and sociology, and rendering the reading public familiar to some extent with the philosophic systems of leading thinkers. The articles embraced in this volume were written for the Chicago Times, at the request of Mr. Story, its editor, and published in its Saturday edition, which has a circulation of some 60,000 copies, before being collected in book form. Most of them attracted very general attention, and letters of criticism, commendation and response came in to them from the most distant and unexpected quarters of the globe, as well as from points near at hand. One request for their publication in book form comes from a German residing in Egypt; another from a Frenchman in Quebec. The fact that the most experienced, enterprising and successful daily journalist now living should open his columns to expositions of current philosophic and sociological systems, requiring so much space, and that they should be widely read and preserved by those who have read them in this form, indicates that there is an increasing demand on the part of the public for thought that is independent of any and all forms of theological bias. The people demand to know, not merely what seers and prophets, oracles and men, acting under some form of hysterical infatuation or supernatural frenzy, have taught, for there is always a liability that these may be lunatics, but also what the calm scholars and rigid investigators, who were favored with no divine afflatus, have thought concerning man, his origin, duty and destiny. For, while a few of the latter, like Newton and Comte, have suffered from cerebral disease brought on by stress of mental labor, even those differ from seers like Swedenborg and Mahomet, in the fact that we are not indebted to their disease for their revelations. Philosophers as well as prophets may be the subjects of catalepsy or of lunacy; but a marked distinction still reigns, if the latter, like Mahomet, commune with angels only while foaming at the mouth, while the former, like Comte, elaborate their philosophic systems only after all signs of mental distress have disappeared.

No attempt has been made in the following volume to collect the views of merely speculative philosophers or metaphysicians -- those who undertake to consider the nature of knowledge, of being, or consciousness, of ideas, or of the sources of any of these. It has designedly nothing to say of Bacon, Descartes, Locke, Hume, Reid, Stewart, Hamilton, or any of the German metaphysicians from Spinoza to Hegel. It aims only to present a few of the leading thinkers upon social science; upon the great questions arising out of the evils that afflict society, and the supposed means of scientifically and philosophically counteracting them. It endeavors, however, to elucidate the systems of each more constructively and sympathetically than is usually done in histories of philosophy.

Swedenborg thought society would derive its greatest salvation from an entire renovation of the accepted creeds of Christianity. Spiritualizing what had become materialized and converting hell from a lake of flame into a love of self, and heaven from a jeweled city into an amiable character, he then adhered to the spiritualized word, thus obtained or created, as the most potent means of renovating society through the purification of its individual members. Though his means were theological, his end was social.

Adam Smith thought wealth, industry, division of labor, the introduction of money and freedom of exchange, to be the great progressive forces in society, though for eighteen centuries Christianity had been compelled, by the narrow social views which attended its origin, to decry wealth, and the love and pursuit of it as the source of all misery. Dr. Smith founded a school of economists whose views as to the method of counteracting the evils of society are none the less hostile to those of the sermon on the mount, from the fact that the economical writers seldom so much as deign to notice the hostility.

Jeremy Bentham discovered that crime was not an impulse of the devil, but a result of imperfect development, and taught mankind that the reform of many of our evils lay in governing men less and teaching them more. Both Smith and Bentham were as eminent positive scientific philosophers as if they had sat under the teachings of Auguste Comte.

Thomas Paine was the representative critic, destroyer and revolutionist of his period, but his end at all times was such a reconstruction of society as would prevent the building up of an aristocratic governing class, by keeping the wheel of popular elections in perpetual revolution. His political ideas corresponded more closely with the actual form and structure of the American government than those of any of his contemporaries. This entitles him to a front rank as a social philosopher.

Charles Fourier and Herbert Spencer have made sociology their chief end and aim. Ernst Haeckel put in a scientific form the evidence of the spontaneous evolution of man, the individual, from the lower forms of life, thus knocking the last prop that sustained the toleological and supernatural theories of the evolution of society. He who writes a scientific genesis for man begins the true history and philosophy of society at its actual beginning. According to Haeckel, the child begins in the womb, where human society begins in its true Adam --viz., in a cell clothed in protoplasm. All the subsequent growth arises out of adaptation to its environment and heredity. The great powers, therefore, which make up progress are tact and talent. Tact is that which adapts each life to its environment, from the mote that basks in the sunbeam, to the millionaire that controls a railway. Talent is the growth which each life underwent in its parent, the original inheritance of caliber, vitality and force with which offsprings are born into this world. All creation, including the creation of society, is the evolution, by material forms, of these two innate powers, equally present in a worm and in a Webster; the extent and complexity of the environment upon which they act growing always with the diversity and complexity of the mechanism through which they act.

Auguste Comte could not have fitly closed the theological and metaphysical periods in his own person had he not by example boldly taught the world that the business of god-making was a legitimate branch of human industry. It was philosophically impossible for any man to imagine a god that would not be a product of human imagination. But Comte, as an ambitious and scientific manufacturer of Deity, could not be content with taking some fraction, or attribute, or type of humanity, whether Jewish, Greek or Roman, for his idol, but must embrace in one comprehensive act of worship the entire stock, whatever it might inventory. Comte attempted to substitute sociology for theology, sociolatry for idolatry, and sociocracy for democracy, plutocracy and ecclesiocracy.

Although but a century has passed since Swedenborg, Bentham, Adam Smith and Thomas Paine taught, the political ideas of the three last have passed into the creed of the common people, and the theologians of the present day would be extremely glad to compromise on Swedenborg's view of the Word, if they could thereby rescue it from its impending utter extinction as a power over human thought. The tendency of society for half a century past has rapidly been toward a complete realization of many of the social theories, both of Fourier and Comte, unlike as their views are in their details. Spencer and Haeckel expound evolution amidst the applause of the generation that hears them, with the assurance that all theological expositions, having already been banished from scientific minds, cannot long dwell in the popular mind.

To this state of facts the question that comes up from every quarter is, "What are you going to give us in place of the idols and myths you are destroying?" And to this the great thinkers answer, in substance, "We will give you the patience that is content to assume to know only that which human faculties have the capacity to reduce to knowledge. We will give you the knowledge which does all that has ever been done to adorn, bless, ennoble human life. If we should discover any fact concerning another life, we will give it to you as freely as we would give those concerning this life. We will give you all that the educated and scientific men of the world ever believed, vis., the accumulated results of all observation, experiment and comparison. We will impose upon you no guesses which nature has endowed us with no faculties for verifying."

"It took two hundred years," says Condorcet, "for Archimedes' and Apollonius' investigations in mathematics and astronomy to so perfect the science of navigation as to save the sailor from shipwreck." But when the science was perfected, it totally superseded the efforts of the human mind to control, through prayers and sacrifices, that divine mind which controlled the seas and the winds, or to secure safety for the ship by exerting a supernatural influence over its environment. So long as prayer strove to adapt the seas to the ship it went down. When science adapted the ship to the seas it sailed on. It cost a like period of study before chemists discovered that the basilisk which haunted cellars, which was invisible, but which killed all whom it looked upon, was carbonic acid gas. But when this was discovered the basilisk's dreadful eye was no longer fatal. The world is still filled with invisible basilisks, invisible save as knowledge makes them visible, but killing their millions. Epidemic diseases, cruel and false social theories, vast social wrongs and oppressions, great theological wastes of wealth relatively to no purpose, compared with the good it might effect, are among these basilisks. Incantations have been chanted over them, but they still kill. Anathemas and prayers have failed to exterminate them. Slowly but surely the world's great thinkers are exterminating them, for what they think to-day forms the creed of educated men to-morrow, and of all men on the day after.


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 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 "disprized 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 fact, 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 he had seen a beetle in a dream 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 lateral 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 would 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 lateral 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 be instantly changed to mercy's melting tones and the murderer'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 thy 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 an effect, make a new inspired Bible for himself and throw the old away. If his mind is narrow, lf 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 in sanity the prey of visions, the deceivers of others and of themselves. All will admit that Swedenborg was a man of great intellect, of vast requirements, 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, having in the twilight of reason and the dawn of insanity, he regarded every fact as a patched and ragged garment with a lining of costly 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 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 rage has never been, and never will be, deserving of a martyr. Some time we may see that justic 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 the 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 overestimate 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 slavery. He has shown that the "will of God" is not a rule for human conduct, that morality is not a cold 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 republic based upon the equal rights of man, the best thing that can be done is to destroy 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 that 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," or "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 just man to write these words, "The United States of America". He was the just 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 his 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 waste basket 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 devoured
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 grace of Thomas Paine the churches 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 defense 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 he 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 services of others, on any large scale, in the absence of money, is by force, which is slavery Money, by constituting a medium in which he 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 has 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 labor 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 Aladdin's magic ring.

Adam Smith wrote upon the wealth of nations, whale Charles Fourier labored for the happiness of mankind. In this country few seem to understand communism. While here it may be regarded as vacuous idleness, armed with the assassin's knife and the incendiary torch, in Europe it is a different thing. There 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 stall have occupied the throne. Socialism perceives that Germany has been enslaved by victory, whale 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 cooperation 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 advantage of combined effort and the immense economy of cooperation, 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 find 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 tenderest 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 He1vetius, 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 farmed 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 it was Puffendorf who said that slavery was originally founded on contract. To which Voltaire replied "If my lord Puffendorf 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.

Many scientists have favored the theologians. They have admitted that these 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 at has played the role of a "poor relation," and accepted, while setting 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 Ernest Haeckel, who may be said to have not only demonstrate 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 and 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 be existed from eternity, all generation must have been spontaneous. and the simplest organisms must have been 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, at 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 the 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 capable 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 Diety is a master, and man a serf, and this relation is inconsistent with true progress. The universe ought to be a true 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 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 set 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 or entities nor the result of such relations, but it stands for the fact that the same causes under the same conditions, eternally have, 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 assertions.

The designer of the toleologist, the just cause of 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 on 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, sustaining original thought, will hasten the period of that blessed time.

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