The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Works of Robert G. Ingersoll, Volume VIII.

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Title: The Works of Robert G. Ingersoll, Volume VIII.

Author: Robert Green Ingersoll

Release date: January 25, 2007 [eBook #20447]
Most recently updated: May 30, 2007

Language: English

Credits: Produced by An Anonymous volunteer


Produced by An Anonymous volunteer

Transcriber's note:

Footnotes that describe the subject or circumstances of the interview are placed immediately after its title, or where they occur in the narrative. Other footnotes are at the end of the interview.

  The digraph "ae" has been spelled out for clarity. "Employe", used
  throughout with no accent, has been replaced by "employee".
  "Buechner" appeared with the umlaut in the original.

  Typographical and grammatical errors and misspellings have been
  corrected, but 19th-century variants have been retained. Question
  marks have been added where required.

LoC call number: BL2720.A2

[Frontispiece: v8.jpg]
  "With daughters' babes upon his knees,
   the white hair mingling with the gold

Dresden Edition

THE WORKS OF Robert G. Ingersoll












POLITICS AND GEN. GRANT, Indianapolis Journal





POLITICAL, Washington Post

RELIGION IN POLITICS, New York Evening Express


THE POLITICAL OUTLOOK, Cincinnati Commercial



A REPLY TO THE REV. MR. LANSING, New Haven Sunday Union



GUITEAU AND HIS CRIME, Washington Sunday Gazette

DISTRICT SUFFRAGE, Washington Capital



THE INTERVIEWER, New York Morning Journal



THE CIVIL RIGHTS BILL, Washington National Republican






THE OATH QUESTION, London Secular Review






BLASPHEMY, Philadelphia Press


INGERSOLL CATECHISED, San Francisco San Franciscan

BLAINE'S DEFEAT, Topeka Commonwealth

BLAINE'S DEFEAT, Louisville Commercial


RELIGIOUS PREJUDICE, New York Mail and Express

CLEVELAND AND HIS CABINET, New York Mail and Express




MY BELIEF, Philadelphia Times

SOME LIVE TOPICS, New York Truth Seeker



THE LABOR QUESTION, Cincinnati Enquirer


PROHIBITION, Boston Evening Traveler




REPLY TO THE REV. B. F. MORSE, New York Herald

INGERSOLL ON McGLYNN, Brooklyn Citizen




THE CHURCH AND THE STATE, New York Dramatic Mirror






THE MILLS BILL, New York Press



SECULARISM, Toronto Secular Thought






LIBERALS AND LIBERALISM, Toronto Secular Thought

POPE LEO XIII., New York Herald


THE WEST AND SOUTH, Indianapolis Journal


SHAKESPEARE AND BACON, Minneapolis Tribune


CREEDS, New York Morning Advertiser



MISSIONARIES, Cleveland Press


MUST RELIGION GO? New York Evening Advertiser



AUTHORS, Kansas City Star

INEBRIETY, Unpublished


TOLSTOY AND LITERATURE, Buffalo Evening Express

WOMAN IN POLITICS, New York Advertiser

SPIRITUALISM, St. Louis Globe-Democrat

PLAYS AND PLAYERS, New York Dramatic Mirror

WOMAN, A Fragment






  AND THE CHURCH, New York Herald

WOMAN AND HER DOMAIN, Grand Rapids Democrat

PROFESSOR SWING, Chicago Inter-Ocean



SPIRITUALISM, New York Journal



VIVISECTION, New York Evening Telegram

DIVORCE, New York Herald


A VISIT TO SHAW'S GARDEN, St. Louis Republic



A REPLY TO THE REV. L. A. BANKS, Cleveland Plain Dealer

CUBA—ZOLA AND THEOSOPHY, Louisville Courier-Journal






EXPANSION AND TRUSTS, Philadelphia North American



Question. Colonel, are your views of religion based upon the Bible?

Answer. I regard the Bible, especially the Old Testament, the same as I do most other ancient books, in which there is some truth, a great deal of error, considerable barbarism and a most plentiful lack of good sense.

Question. Have you found any other work, sacred or profane, which you regard as more reliable?

Answer. I know of no book less so, in my judgment.

Question. You have studied the Bible attentively, have you not?

Answer. I have read the Bible. I have heard it talked about a good deal, and am sufficiently well acquainted with it to justify my own mind in utterly rejecting all claims made for its divine origin.

Question. What do you base your views upon?

Answer. On reason, observation, experience, upon the discoveries in science, upon observed facts and the analogies properly growing out of such facts. I have no confidence in anything pretending to be outside, or independent of, or in any manner above nature.

Question. According to your views, what disposition is made of man after death?

Answer. Upon that subject I know nothing. It is no more wonderful that man should live again than he now lives; upon that question I know of no evidence. The doctrine of immortality rests upon human affection. We love, therefore we wish to live.

Question. Then you would not undertake to say what becomes of man after death?

Answer. If I told or pretended to know what becomes of man after death, I would be as dogmatic as are theologians upon this question. The difference between them and me is, I am honest. I admit that I do not know.

Question. Judging by your criticism of mankind, Colonel, in your recent lecture, you have not found his condition very satisfactory?

Answer. Nature, outside of man, so far as I know, is neither cruel nor merciful. I am not satisfied with the present condition of the human race, nor with the condition of man during any period of which we have any knowledge. I believe, however, the condition of man is improved, and this improvement is due to his own exertions. I do not make nature a being. I do not ascribe to nature intentions.

Question. Is your theory, Colonel, the result of investigation of the subject?

Answer. No one can control his own opinion or his own belief. My belief was forced upon me by my surroundings. I am the product of all circumstances that have in any way touched me. I believe in this world. I have no confidence in any religion promising joys in another world at the expense of liberty and happiness in this. At the same time, I wish to give others all the rights I claim for myself.

Question. If I asked for proofs for your theory, what would you furnish?

Answer. The experience of every man who is honest with himself, every fact that has been discovered in nature. In addition to these, the utter and total failure of all religionists in all countries to produce one particle of evidence showing the existence of any supernatural power whatever, and the further fact that the people are not satisfied with their religion. They are continually asking for evidence. They are asking it in every imaginable way. The sects are continually dividing. There is no real religious serenity in the world. All religions are opponents of intellectual liberty. I believe in absolute mental freedom. Real religion with me is a thing not of the head, but of the heart; not a theory, not a creed, but a life.

Question. What punishment, then, is inflicted upon man for his crimes and wrongs committed in this life?

Answer. There is no such thing as intellectual crime. No man can commit a mental crime. To become a crime it must go beyond thought.

Question. What punishment is there for physical crime?

Answer. Such punishment as is necessary to protect society and for the reformation of the criminal.

Question. If there is only punishment in this world, will not some escape punishment?

Answer. I admit that all do not seem to be punished as they deserve. I also admit that all do not seem to be rewarded as they deserve; and there is in this world, apparently, as great failures in matter of reward as in matter of punishment. If there is another life, a man will be happier there for acting according to his highest ideal in this. But I do not discern in nature any effort to do justice.

The Post, Washington, D. C., 1878.


Question. I see, Colonel, that in an interview published this morning, Mrs. Van Cott (the revivalist), calls you "a poor barking dog." Do you know her personally?

Answer. I have never met or seen her.

Question. Do you know the reason she applied the epithet?

Answer. I suppose it to be the natural result of what is called vital piety; that is to say, universal love breeds individual hatred.

Question. Do you intend making any reply to what she says?

Answer. I have written her a note of which this is a copy:

Buffalo, Feb. 24th, 1878. MRS. VAN COTT;

My dear Madam:—Were you constrained by the love of Christ to call a man who has never injured you "a poor barking dog?" Did you make this remark as a Christian, or as a lady? Did you say these words to illustrate in some faint degree the refining influence upon women of the religion you preach?

What would you think of me if I should retort, using your language, changing only the sex of the last word?

I have the honor to remain,

Yours truly,


Question. Well, what do you think of the religious revival system generally?

Answer. The fire that has to be blown all the time is a poor thing to get warm by. I regard these revivals as essentially barbaric. I think they do no good, but much harm, they make innocent people think they are guilty, and very mean people think they are good.

Question. What is your opinion concerning women as conductors of these revivals?

Answer. I suppose those engaged in them think they are doing good. They are probably honest. I think, however, that neither men nor women should be engaged in frightening people into heaven. That is all I wish to say on the subject, as I do not think it worth talking about.

The Express, Buffalo, New York, Feb., 1878.


Question. What did you do on your European trip, Colonel?

Answer. I went with my family from New York to Southampton, England, thence to London, and from London to Edinburgh. In Scotland I visited every place where Burns had lived, from the cottage where he was born to the room where he died. I followed him from the cradle to the coffin. I went to Stratford-upon-Avon for the purpose of seeing all that I could in any way connected with Shakespeare; next to London, where we visited again all the places of interest, and thence to Paris, where we spent a couple of weeks in the Exposition.

Question. And what did you think of it?

Answer. So far as machinery—so far as the practical is concerned, it is not equal to ours in Philadelphia; in art it is incomparably beyond it. I was very much gratified to find so much evidence in favor of my theory that the golden age in art is in front of us; that mankind has been advancing, that we did not come from a perfect pair and immediately commence to degenerate. The modern painters and sculptors are far better and grander than the ancient. I think we excel in fine arts as much as we do in agricultural implements. Nothing pleased me more than the painting from Holland, because they idealized and rendered holy the ordinary avocations of life. They paint cottages with sweet mothers and children; they paint homes. They are not much on Ariadnes and Venuses, but they paint good women.

Question. What did you think of the American display?

Answer. Our part of the Exposition is good, but nothing to what is should and might have been, but we bring home nearly as many medals as we took things. We lead the world in machinery and in ingenious inventions, and some of our paintings were excellent.

Question. Colonel, crossing the Atlantic back to America, what do you think of the Greenback movement?

Answer. In regard to the Greenback party, in the first place, I am not a believer in miracles. I do not believe that something can be made out of nothing. The Government, in my judgment, cannot create money; the Government can give its note, like an individual, and the prospect of its being paid determines its value. We have already substantially resumed. Every piece of property that has been shrinking has simply been resuming. We expended during the war—not for the useful, but for the useless, not to build up, but to destroy—at least one thousand million dollars. The Government was an enormous purchaser; when the war ceased the industries of the country lost their greatest customer. As a consequence there was a surplus of production, and consequently a surplus of labor. At last we have gotten back, and the country since the war has produced over and above the cost of production, something near the amount that was lost during the war. Our exports are about two hundred million dollars more than our imports, and this is a healthy sign. There are, however, five or six hundred thousand men, probably, out of employment; as prosperity increases this number will decrease. I am in favor of the Government doing something to ameliorate the condition of these men. I would like to see constructed the Northern and Southern Pacific railroads; this would give employment at once to many thousands, and homes after awhile to millions. All the signs of the times to me are good. The wretched bankrupt law, at last, is wiped from the statute books, and honest people in a short time can get plenty of credit. This law should have been repealed years before it was. It would have been far better to have had all who have gone into bankruptcy during these frightful years to have done so at once.

Question. What will be the political effect of the Greenback movement?

Answer. The effect in Maine has been to defeat the Republican party. I do not believe any party can permanently succeed in the United States that does not believe in and advocate actual money. I want to see the greenback equal with gold the world round. A money below par keeps the people below par. No man can possibly be proud of a country that is not willing to pay its debts. Several of the States this fall may be carried by the Greenback party, but if I have a correct understanding of their views, that party cannot hold any State for any great length of time. But all the men of wealth should remember that everybody in the community has got, in some way, to be supported. I want to see them so that they can support themselves by their own labor. In my judgment real prosperity will begin with actual resumption, because confidence will then return. If the workingmen of the United States cannot make their living, cannot have the opportunity to labor, they have got to be supported in some way, and in any event, I want to see a liberal policy inaugurated by the Government. I believe in improving rivers and harbors.

I do not believe the trans-continental commerce of this country should depend on one railroad. I want new territories opened. I want to see American steamships running to all the great ports of the world. I want to see our flag flying on all the seas and in all the harbors. We have the best country, and, in my judgment, the best people in the world, and we ought to be the most prosperous nation on the earth.

Question. Then you only consider the Greenback movement a temporary thing?

Answer. Yes; I do not believe that there is anything permanent in anything that is not sound, that has not a perfectly sound foundation, and I mean sound, sound in every sense of that word. It must be wise and honest. We have plenty of money; the trouble is to get it. If the Greenbackers will pass a law furnishing all of us with collaterals, there certainly would be no trouble about getting the money. Nothing can demonstrate more fully the plentifulness of money than the fact that millions of four per cent. bonds have been taken in the United States. The trouble is, business is scarce.

Question. But do you not think the Greenback movement will help the Democracy to success in 1880?

Answer. I think the Greenback movement will injure the Republican party much more than the Democratic party. Whether that injury will reach as far as 1880 depends simply upon one thing. If resumption—in spite of all the resolutions to the contrary— inaugurates an era of prosperity, as I believe and hope it will, then it seems to me that the Republican party will be as strong in the North as in its palmiest days. Of course I regard most of the old issues as settled, and I make this statement simply because I regard the financial issue as the only living one.

Of course, I have no idea who will be the Democratic candidate, but I suppose the South will be solid for the Democratic nominee, unless the financial question divides that section of the country.

Question. With a solid South do you not think the Democratic nominee will stand a good chance?

Answer. Certainly, he will stand the best chance if the Democracy is right on the financial question; if it will cling to its old idea of hard money, he will. If the Democrats will recognize that the issues of the war are settled, then I think that party has the best chance.

Question. But if it clings to soft money?

Answer. Then I think it will be beaten, if by soft money it means the payment of one promise with another.

Question. You consider Greenbackers inflationists, do you not?

Answer. I suppose the Greenbackers to be the party of inflation. I am in favor of inflation produced by industry. I am in favor of the country being inflated with corn, with wheat, good houses, books, pictures, and plenty of labor for everybody. I am in favor of being inflated with gold and silver, but I do not believe in the inflation of promise, expectation and speculation. I sympathize with every man who is willing to work and cannot get it, and I sympathize to that degree that I would like to see the fortunate and prosperous taxed to support his unfortunate brother until labor could be found.

The Greenback party seems to think credit is just as good as gold. While the credit lasts this is so; but the trouble is, whenever it is ascertained that the gold is gone or cannot be produced the credit takes wings. The bill of a perfectly solvent bank may circulate for years. Now, because nobody demands the gold on that bill it doesn't follow that the bill would be just as good without any gold behind it. The idea that you can have the gold whenever you present the bill gives it its value. To illustrate: A poor man buys soup tickets. He is not hungry at the time of purchase, and will not be for some hours. During those hours the Greenback gentlemen argue that there is no use of keeping any soup on hand with which to redeem these tickets, and from this they further argue that if they can be good for a few hours without soup, why not forever? And they would be, only the holder gets hungry. Until he is hungry, of course, he does not care whether any soup is on hand or not, but when he presents his ticket he wants his soup, and the idea that he can have the soup when he does present the ticket gives it its value. And so I regard bank notes, without gold and silver, as of the same value as tickets without soup.

The Post, Washington, D. C., 1878.


Question. What do you think of the Pre-Millennial Conference that was held in New York City recently?

Answer. Well, I think that all who attended it were believers in the Bible, and any one who believes in prophecies and looks to their fulfillment will go insane. A man that tries from Daniel's ram with three horns and five tails and his deformed goats to ascertain the date of the second immigration of Christ to this world is already insane. It all shows that the moment we leave the realm of fact and law we are adrift on the wide and shoreless sea of theological speculation.

Question. Do you think there will be a second coming?

Answer. No, not as long as the church is in power. Christ will never again visit this earth until the Freethinkers have control. He will certainly never allow another church to get hold of him. The very persons who met in New York to fix the date of his coming would despise him and the feeling would probably be mutual. In his day Christ was an Infidel, and made himself unpopular by denouncing the church as it then existed. He called them liars, hypocrites, thieves, vipers, whited sepulchres and fools. From the description given of the church in that day, I am afraid that should he come again, he would be provoked into using similar language. Of course, I admit there are many good people in the church, just as there were some good Pharisees who were opposed to the crucifixion.

The Express, Buffalo, New York, Nov. 4th, 1878.


Question. Colonel, to start with, what do you think of the solid South?

Answer. I think the South is naturally opposed to the Republican party; more, I imagine, to the name, than to the personnel of the organization. But the South has just as good friends in the Republican party as in the Democratic party. I do not think there are any Republicans who would not rejoice to see the South prosperous and happy. I know of none, at least. They will have to get over the prejudices born of isolation. We lack direct and constant communication. I do not recollect having seen a newspaper from the Gulf States for a long time. They, down there, may imagine that the feeling in the North is the same as during the war. But it certainly is not. The Northern people are anxious to be friendly; and if they can be, without a violation of their principles, they will be. Whether it be true or not, however, most of the Republicans of the North believe that no Republican in the South is heartily welcome in that section, whether he goes there from the North, or is a Southern man. Personally, I do not care anything about partisan politics. I want to see every man in the United States guaranteed the right to express his choice at the ballot-box, and I do not want social ostracism to follow a man, no matter how he may vote. A solid South means a solid North. A hundred thousand Democratic majority in South Carolina means fifty thousand Republican majority in New York in 1880. I hope the sections will never divide, simply as sections. But if the Republican party is not allowed to live in the South, the Democratic party certainly will not be allowed to succeed in the North. I want to treat the people of the South precisely as though the Rebellion had never occurred. I want all that wiped from the slate of memory, and all I ask of the Southern people is to give the same rights to the Republicans that we are willing to give to them and have given to them.

Question. How do you account for the results of the recent elections?

Answer. The Republican party won the recent election simply because it was for honest money, and it was in favor of resumption. And if on the first of January next, we resume all right, and maintain resumption, I see no reason why the Republican party should not succeed in 1880. The Republican party came into power at the commencement of the Rebellion, and necessarily retained power until its close; and in my judgment, it will retain power so long as in the horizon of credit there is a cloud of repudiation as large as a man's hand.

Question. Do you think resumption will work out all right?

Answer. I do. I think that on the first of January the greenback will shake hands with gold on an equality, and in a few days thereafter will be worth just a little bit more. Everything has resumed, except the Government. All the property has resumed, all the lands, bonds and mortgages and stocks. All these things resumed long ago—that is to say, they have touched the bottom. Now, there is no doubt that the party that insists on the Government paying all its debts will hold control, and no one will get his hand on the wheel who advocates repudiation in any form. There is one thing we must do, though. We have got to put more silver in our dollars. I do not think you can blame the New York banks—any bank —for refusing to take eighty-eight cents for a dollar. Neither can you blame any depositor who puts gold in the bank for demanding gold in return. Yes, we must have in the silver dollar a dollar's worth of silver.

The Commercial, Cincinnati, Ohio, November, 1878.


Question. Colonel, what do you think of the course the Mayor has pursued toward you in attempting to stop your lecture?

Answer. I know very little except what I have seen in the morning paper. As a general rule, laws should be enforced or repealed; and so far as I am personally concerned, I shall not so much complain of the enforcing of the law against Sabbath breaking as of the fact that such a law exists. We have fallen heir to these laws. They were passed by superstition, and the enlightened people of to-day should repeal them. Ministers should not expect to fill their churches by shutting up other places. They can only increase their congregations by improving their sermons. They will have more hearers when they say more worth hearing. I have no idea that the Mayor has any prejudice against me personally and if he only enforces the law, I shall have none against him. If my lectures were free the ministers might have the right to object, but as I charge one dollar admission and they nothing, they ought certainly be able to compete with me.

Question. Don't you think it is the duty of the Mayor, as chief executive of the city laws, to enforce the ordinances and pay no attention to what the statutes say?

Answer. I suppose it to be the duty of the Mayor to enforce the ordinance of the city and if the ordinance of the city covers the same ground as the law of the State, a conviction under the ordinance would be a bar to prosecution under the State law.

Question. If the ordinance exempts scientific, literary and historical lectures, as it is said it does, will not that exempt you?

Answer. Yes, all my lectures are historical; that is, I speak of many things that have happened. They are scientific because they are filled with facts, and they are literary of course. I can conceive of no address that is neither historical nor scientific, except sermons. They fail to be historical because they treat of things that never happened and they are certainly not scientific, as they contain no facts.

Question. Suppose they arrest you what will you do?

Answer. I will examine the law and if convicted will pay the fine, unless I think I can reverse the case by appeal. Of course I would like to see all these foolish laws wiped from the statute books. I want the law so that everybody can do just as he pleases on Sunday, provided he does not interfere with the rights of others. I want the Christian, the Jew, the Deist and the Atheist to be exactly equal before the law. I would fight for the right of the Christian to worship God in his own way just as quick as I would for the Atheist to enjoy music, flowers and fields. I hope to see the time when even the poor people can hear the music of the finest operas on Sunday. One grand opera with all its thrilling tones, will do more good in touching and elevating the world than ten thousand sermons on the agonies of hell.

Question. Have you ever been interfered with before in delivering Sunday lectures?

Answer. No, I postponed a lecture in Baltimore at the request of the owners of a theatre because they were afraid some action might be taken. That is the only case. I have delivered lectures on Sunday in the principal cities of the United States, in New York, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, San Francisco, Cincinnati and many other places. I lectured here last winter; it was on Sunday and I heard nothing of its being contrary to law. I always supposed my lectures were good enough to be delivered on the most sacred days.

The Leader, Pittsburg, Pa., October 27, 1879.

[* The manager of the theatre, where Col. Ingersoll lectured, was fined fifty dollars which Col. Ingersoll paid.]


Question. What do you think about the recent election, and what will be its effect upon political matters and the issues and candidates of 1880?

Answer. I think the Republicans have met with this almost universal success on account, first, of the position taken by the Democracy on the currency question; that is to say, that party was divided, and was willing to go in partnership with anybody, whatever their doctrines might be, for the sake of success in that particular locality. The Republican party felt it of paramount importance not only to pay the debt, but to pay it in that which the world regards as money. The next reason for the victory is the position assumed by the Democracy in Congress during the called session. The threats they then made of what they would do in the event that the executive did not comply with their demands, showed that the spirit of the party had not been chastened to any considerable extent by the late war. The people of this country will not, in my judgment, allow the South to take charge of this country until they show their ability to protect the rights of citizens in their respective States.

Question. Then, as you regard the victories, they are largely due to a firm adherence to principle, and the failure of the Democratic party is due to their abandonment of principle, and their desire to unite with anybody and everything, at the sacrifice of principle, to attain success?

Answer. Yes. The Democratic party is a general desire for office without organization. Most people are Democrats because they hate something, most people are Republicans because they love something.

Question. Do you think the election has brought about any particular change in the issues that will be involved in the campaign of 1880?

Answer. I think the only issue is who shall rule the country.

Question. Do you think, then, the question of State Rights, hard or soft money and other questions that have been prominent in the campaign are practically settled, and so regarded by the people?

Answer. I think the money question is, absolutely. I think the question of State Rights is dead, except that it can still be used to defeat the Democracy. It is what might be called a convenient political corpse.

Question. Now, to leave the political field and go to the religious at one jump—since your last visit here much has been said and written and published to the effect that a great change, or a considerable change at least, had taken place in your religious, or irreligious views. I would like to know if that is so?

Answer. The only change that has occurred in my religious views is the result of finding more and more arguments in favor of my position, and, as a consequence, if there is any difference, I am stronger in my convictions than ever before.

Question. I would like to know something of the history of your religious views?

Answer. I may say right here that the Christian idea that any God can make me his friend by killing mine is about a great mistake as could be made. They seem to have the idea that just as soon as God kills all the people that a person loves, he will then begin to love the Lord. What drew my attention first to these questions was the doctrine of eternal punishment. This was so abhorrent to my mind that I began to hate the book in which it was taught. Then, in reading law, going back to find the origin of laws, I found one had to go but a little way before the legislator and priest united. This led me to a study of a good many of the religions of the world. At first I was greatly astonished to find most of them better than ours. I then studied our own system to the best of my ability, and found that people were palming off upon children and upon one another as the inspired word of God a book that upheld slavery, polygamy and almost every other crime. Whether I am right or wrong, I became convinced that the Bible is not an inspired book; and then the only question for me to settle was as to whether I should say what I believed or not. This really was not the question in my mind, because, before even thinking of such a question, I expressed my belief, and I simply claim that right and expect to exercise it as long as I live. I may be damned for it in the next world, but it is a great source of pleasure to me in this.

Question. It is reported that you are the son of a Presbyterian minister?

Answer. Yes, I am the son of a New School Presbyterian minister.

Question. About what age were you when you began this investigation which led to your present convictions?

Answer. I cannot remember when I believed the Bible doctrine of eternal punishment. I have a dim recollection of hating Jehovah when I was exceedingly small.

Question. Then your present convictions began to form themselves while you were listening to the teachings of religion as taught by your father?

Answer. Yes, they did.

Question. Did you discuss the matter with him?

Answer. I did for many years, and before he died he utterly gave up the idea that this life is a period of probation. He utterly gave up the idea of eternal punishment, and before he died he had the happiness of believing that God was almost as good and generous as he was himself.

Question. I suppose this gossip about a change in your religious views arose or was created by the expression used at your brother's funeral, "In the night of death hope sees a star and listening love can hear the rustle of a wing"?

Answer. I never willingly will destroy a solitary human hope. I have always said that I did not know whether man was or was not immortal, but years before my brother died, in a lecture entitled "The Ghosts," which has since been published, I used the following words: "The idea of immortality, that like a sea has ebbed and flowed in the human heart, with its countless waves of hope and fear, beating against the shores and rocks of time and fate, was not born of any book, nor of any creed, nor of any religion. It was born of human affection, and it will continue to ebb and flow beneath the mists and clouds of doubt and darkness as long as love kisses the lips of death. It is the rainbow—Hope, shining upon the tears of grief."

Question. The great objection to your teaching urged by your enemies is that you constantly tear down, and never build up?

Answer. I have just published a little book entitled, "Some Mistakes of Moses," in which I have endeavored to give most of the arguments I have urged against the Pentateuch in a lecture I delivered under that title. The motto on the title page is, "A destroyer of weeds, thistles and thorns is a benefactor, whether he soweth grain or not." I cannot for my life see why one should be charged with tearing down and not rebuilding simply because he exposes a sham, or detects a lie. I do not feel under any obligation to build something in the place of a detected falsehood. All I think I am under obligation to put in the place of a detected lie is the detection. Most religionists talk as if mistakes were valuable things and they did not wish to part with them without a consideration. Just how much they regard lies worth a dozen I do not know. If the price is reasonable I am perfectly willing to give it, rather than to see them live and give their lives to the defence of delusions. I am firmly convinced that to be happy here will not in the least detract from our happiness in another world should we be so fortunate as to reach another world; and I cannot see the value of any philosophy that reaches beyond the intelligent happiness of the present. There may be a God who will make us happy in another world. If he does, it will be more than he has accomplished in this. I suppose that he will never have more than infinite power and never have less than infinite wisdom, and why people should expect that he should do better in another world than he has in this is something that I have never been able to explain. A being who has the power to prevent it and yet who allows thousands and millions of his children to starve; who devours them with earthquakes; who allows whole nations to be enslaved, cannot in my judgment be implicitly be depended upon to do justice in another world.

Question. How do the clergy generally treat you?

Answer. Well, of course there are the same distinctions among clergymen as among other people. Some of them are quite respectable gentlemen, especially those with whom I am not acquainted. I think that since the loss of my brother nothing could exceed the heartlessness of the remarks made by the average clergyman. There have been some noble exceptions, to whom I feel not only thankful but grateful; but a very large majority have taken this occasion to say most unfeeling and brutal things. I do not ask the clergy to forgive me, but I do request that they will so act that I will not have to forgive them. I have always insisted that those who love their enemies should at least tell the truth about their friends, but I suppose, after all, that religion must be supported by the same means as those by which it was founded. Of course, there are thousands of good ministers, men who are endeavoring to make the world better, and whose failure is no particular fault of their own. I have always been in doubt as to whether the clergy were a necessary or an unnecessary evil.

Question. I would like to have a positive expression of your views as to a future state?

Answer. Somebody asked Confucius about another world, and his reply was: "How should I know anything about another world when I know so little of this?" For my part, I know nothing of any other state of existence, either before or after this, and I have never become personally acquainted with anybody that did. There may be another life, and if there is, the best way to prepare for it is by making somebody happy in this. God certainly cannot afford to put a man in hell who has made a little heaven in this world. I propose simply to take my chances with the rest of the folks, and prepare to go where the people I am best acquainted with will probably settle. I cannot afford to leave the great ship and sneak off to shore in some orthodox canoe. I hope there is another life, for I would like to see how things come out in the world when I am dead. There are some people I would like to see again, and hope there are some who would not object to seeing me; but if there is no other life I shall never know it. I do not remember a time when I did not exist; and if, when I die, that is the end, I shall not know it, because the last thing I shall know is that I am alive, and if nothing is left, nothing will be left to know that I am dead; so that so far as I am concerned I am immortal; that is to say, I cannot recollect when I did not exist, and there never will be a time when I shall remember that I do not exist. I would like to have several millions of dollars, and I may say that I have a lively hope that some day I may be rich, but to tell you the truth I have very little evidence of it. Our hope of immortality does not come from any religion, but nearly all religions come from that hope. The Old Testament, instead of telling us that we are immortal, tells us how we lost immortality. You will recollect that if Adam and Eve could have gotten to the Tree of Life, they would have eaten of its fruit and would have lived forever; but for the purpose of preventing immortality God turned them out of the Garden of Eden, and put certain angels with swords or sabres at the gate to keep them from getting back. The Old Testament proves, if it proves anything—which I do not think it does—that there is no life after this; and the New Testament is not very specific on the subject. There were a great many opportunities for the Saviour and his apostles to tell us about another world, but they did not improve them to any great extent; and the only evidence, so far as I know, about another life is, first, that we have no evidence; and, secondly, that we are rather sorry that we have not, and wish we had. That is about my position.

Question. According to your observation of men, and your reading in relation to the men and women of the world and of the church, if there is another world divided according to orthodox principles between the orthodox and heterodox, which of the two that are known as heaven and hell would contain, in your judgment, the most good society?

Answer. Since hanging has got to be a means of grace, I would prefer hell. I had a thousand times rather associate with the Pagan philosophers than with the inquisitors of the Middle Ages. I certainly should prefer the worst man in Greek or Roman history to John Calvin; and I can imagine no man in the world that I would not rather sit on the same bench with than the Puritan fathers and the founders of orthodox churches. I would trade off my harp any minute for a seat in the other country. All the poets will be in perdition, and the greatest thinkers, and, I should think, most of the women whose society would tend to increase the happiness of man; nearly all the painters, nearly all the sculptors, nearly all the writers of plays, nearly all the great actors, most of the best musicians, and nearly all the good fellows—the persons who know stories, who can sing songs, or who will loan a friend a dollar. They will mostly all be in that country, and if I did not live there permanently, I certainly would want it so I could spend my winter months there. But, after all, what I really want to do is to destroy the idea of eternal punishment. That doctrine subverts all ideas of justice. That doctrine fills hell with honest men, and heaven with intellectual and moral paupers. That doctrine allows people to sin on credit. That doctrine allows the basest to be eternally happy and the most honorable to suffer eternal pain. I think of all doctrines it is the most infinitely infamous, and would disgrace the lowest savage; and any man who believes it, and has imagination enough to understand it, has the heart of a serpent and the conscience of a hyena.

Question. Your objective point is to destroy the doctrine of hell, is it?

Answer. Yes, because the destruction of that doctrine will do away with all cant and all pretence. It will do away with all religious bigotry and persecution. It will allow every man to think and to express his thought. It will do away with bigotry in all its slimy and offensive forms.

Chicago Tribune, November 14, 1879.


Question. Some people have made comparisons between the late Senators O. P. Morton and Zach. Chandler. What did you think of them, Colonel?

Answer. I think Morton had the best intellectual grasp of a question of any man I ever saw. There was an infinite difference between the two men. Morton's strength lay in proving a thing; Chandler's in asserting it. But Chandler was a strong man and no hypocrite.

Question. Have you any objection to being interviewed as to your ideas of Grant, and his position before the people?

Answer. I have no reason for withholding my views on that or any other subject that is under public discussion. My idea is that Grant can afford to regard the presidency as a broken toy. It would add nothing to his fame if he were again elected, and would add nothing to the debt of gratitude which the people feel they owe him. I do not think he will be a candidate. I do not think he wants it. There are men who are pushing him on their own account. Grant was a great soldier. He won the respect of the civilized world. He commanded the largest army that ever fought for freedom, and to make him President would not add a solitary leaf to the wreath of fame already on his brow; and should he be elected, the only thing he could do would be to keep the old wreath from fading.

I do not think his reputation can ever be as great in any direction as in the direction of war. He has made his reputation and has lived his great life. I regard him, confessedly, as the best soldier the Anglo-Saxon blood has produced. I do not know that it necessarily follows because he is a great soldier he is great in other directions. Probably some of the greatest statesmen in the world would have been the worst soldiers.

Question. Do you regard him as more popular now than ever before?

Answer. I think that his reputation is certainly greater and higher than when he left the presidency, and mainly because he has represented this country with so much discretion and with such quiet, poised dignity all around the world. He has measured himself with kings, and was able to look over the heads of every one of them. They were not quite as tall as he was, even adding the crown to their original height. I think he represented us abroad with wonderful success. One thing that touched me very much was, that at a reception given him by the workingmen of Birmingham, after he had been received by royalty, he had the courage to say that that reception gave him more pleasure than any other. He has been throughout perfectly true to the genius of our institutions, and has not upon any occasion exhibited the slightest toadyism. Grant is a man who is not greatly affected by either flattery or abuse.

Question. What do you believe to be his position in regard to the presidency?

Answer. My own judgment is that he does not care. I do not think he has any enemies to punish, and I think that while he was President he certainly rewarded most of his friends.

Question. What are your views as to a third term?

Answer. I have no objection to a third term on principle, but so many men want the presidency that it seems almost cruel to give a third term to anyone.

Question. Then, if there is no objection to a third term, what about a fourth?

Answer. I do not know that that could be objected to, either. We have to admit, after all, that the American people, or at least a majority of them, have a right to elect one man as often as they please. Personally, I think it should not be done unless in the case of a man who is prominent above the rest of his fellow-citizens, and whose election appears absolutely necessary. But I frankly confess I cannot conceive of any political situation where one man is a necessity. I do not believe in the one-man-on-horseback idea, because I believe in all the people being on horseback.

Question. What will be the effect of the enthusiastic receptions that are being given to General Grant?

Answer. I think these ovations show that the people are resolved not to lose the results of the great victories of the war, and that they make known this determination by their attention to General Grant. I think that if he goes through the principal cities of this country the old spirit will be revived everywhere, and whether it makes him President or not the result will be to make the election go Republican. The revival of the memories of the war will bring the people of the North together as closely as at any time since that great conflict closed, not in the spirit of hatred, or malice or envy, but in generous emulation to preserve that which was fairly won. I do not think there is any hatred about it, but we are beginning to see that we must save the South ourselves, and that that is the only way we can save the nation.

Question. But suppose they give the same receptions in the South?

Answer. So much the better.

Question. Is there any split in the solid South?

Answer. Some of the very best people in the South are apparently disgusted with following the Democracy any longer, and would hail with delight any opportunity they could reasonably take advantage of to leave the organization, if they could do so without making it appear that they were going back on Southern interests, and this opportunity will come when the South becomes enlightened, and sees that it has no interests except in common with the whole country. That I think they are beginning to see.

Question. How do you like the administration of President Hayes?

Answer. I think its attitude has greatly improved of late. There are certain games of cards—pedro, for instance, where you can not only fail to make something, but be set back. I think that Hayes's veto messages very nearly got him back to the commencement of the game—that he is now almost ready to commence counting, and make some points. His position before the country has greatly improved, but he will not develop into a dark horse. My preference is, of course, still for Blaine.

Question. Where do you think it is necessary the Republican candidate should come from to insure success?

Answer. Somewhere out of Ohio. I think it will go to Maine, and for this reason: First of all, Blaine is certainly a competent man of affairs, a man who knows what to do at the time; and then he has acted in such a chivalric way ever since the convention at Cincinnati, that those who opposed him most bitterly, now have for him nothing but admiration. I think John Sherman is a man of decided ability, but I do not believe the American people would make one brother President, while the other is General of the Army. It would be giving too much power to one family.

Question. What are your conclusions as to the future of the Democratic party?

Answer. I think the Democratic party ought to disband. I think they would be a great deal stronger disbanded, because they would get rid of their reputation without decreasing.

Question. But if they will not disband?

Answer. Then the next campaign depends undoubtedly upon New York and Indiana. I do not see how they can very well help nominating a man from Indiana, and by that I mean Hendricks. You see the South has one hundred and thirty-eight votes, all supposed to be Democratic; with the thirty-five from New York and fifteen from Indiana they would have just three to spare. Now, I take it, that the fifteen from Indiana are just about as essential as the thirty- five from New York. To lack fifteen votes is nearly as bad as being thirty-five short, and so far as drawing salary is concerned it is quite as bad. Mr. Hendricks ought to know that he holds the key to Indiana, and that there cannot be any possibility of carrying this State for Democracy without him. He has tried running for the vice-presidency, which is not much of a place anyhow—I would about as soon be vice-mother-in-law—and my judgment is that he knows exactly the value of his geographical position. New York is divided to that degree that it would be unsafe to take a candidate from that State; and besides, New York has become famous for furnishing defeated candidates for the Democracy. I think the man must come from Indiana.

Question. Would the Democracy of New York unite on Seymour?

Answer. You recollect what Lincoln said about the powder that had been shot off once. I do not remember any man who has once made a race for the presidency and been defeated ever being again nominated.

Question. What about Bayard and Hancock as candidates?

Answer. I do not see how Bayard could possibly carry Indiana, while his own State is too small and too solidly Democratic. My idea of Bayard is that he has not been good enough to be popular, and not bad enough to be famous. The American people will never elect a President from a State with a whipping-post. As to General Hancock, you may set it down as certain that the South will never lend their aid to elect a man who helped to put down the Rebellion. It would be just the same as the effort to elect Greeley. It cannot be done. I see, by the way, that I am reported as having said that David Davis, as the Democratic candidate, could carry Illinois. I did say that in 1876, he could have carried it against Hayes; but whether he could carry Illinois in 1880 would depend altogether upon who runs against him. The condition of things has changed greatly in our favor since 1876.

The Journal, Indianapolis, Ind., November, 1879.


Question. You have traveled about this State more or less, lately, and have, of course, observed political affairs here. Do you think that Senator Logan will be able to deliver this State to the Grant movement according to the understood plan?

Answer. If the State is really for Grant, he will, and if it is not, he will not. Illinois is as little "owned" as any State in this Union. Illinois would naturally be for Grant, other things being equal, because he is regarded as a citizen of this State, and it is very hard for a State to give up the patronage naturally growing out of the fact that the President comes from that State.

Question. Will the instructions given to delegates be final?

Answer. I do not think they will be considered final at all; neither do I think they will be considered of any force. It was decided at the last convention, in Cincinnati, that the delegates had a right to vote as they pleased; that each delegate represented the district of the State that sent him. The idea that a State convention can instruct them as against the wishes of their constituents smacks a little too much of State sovereignty. The President should be nominated by the districts of the whole country, and not by massing the votes by a little chicanery at a State convention, and every delegate ought to vote what he really believes to be the sentiment of his constituents, irrespective of what the State convention may order him to do. He is not responsible to the State convention, and it is none of the State convention's business. This does not apply, it may be, to the delegates at large, but to all the others it certainly must apply. It was so decided at the Cincinnati convention, and decided on a question arising about this same Pennsylvania delegation.

Question. Can you guess as to what the platform in going to contain?

Answer. I suppose it will be a substantial copy of the old one. I am satisfied with the old one with one addition. I want a plank to the effect that no man shall be deprived of any civil or political right on account of his religious or irreligious opinions. The Republican party having been foremost in freeing the body ought to do just a little something now for the mind. After having wasted rivers of blood and treasure uncounted, and almost uncountable, to free the cage, I propose that something ought to be done for the bird. Every decent man in the United States would support that plank. People should have a right to testify in courts, whatever their opinions may be, on any subject. Justice should not shut any door leading to truth, and as long as just views neither affect a man's eyesight or his memory, he should be allowed to tell his story. And there are two sides to this question, too. The man is not only deprived of his testimony, but the commonwealth is deprived of it. There should be no religious test in this country for office; and if Jehovah cannot support his religion without going into partnership with a State Legislature, I think he ought to give it up.

Question. Is there anything new about religion since you were last here?

Answer. Since I was here I have spoken in a great many cities, and to-morrow I am going to do some missionary work at Milwaukee. Many who have come to scoff have remained to pray, and I think that my labors are being greatly blessed, and all attacks on me so far have been overruled for good. I happened to come in contact with a revival of religion, and I believe what they call an "outpouring" at Detroit, under the leadership of a gentleman by the name of Pentecost. He denounced me as God's greatest enemy. I had always supposed that the Devil occupied that exalted position, but it seems that I have, in some way, fallen heir to his shoes. Mr. Pentecost also denounced all business men who would allow any advertisements or lithographs of mine to hang in their places of business, and several of these gentlemen thus appealed to took the advertisements away. The result of all this was that I had the largest house that ever attended a lecture in Detroit. Feeling that ingratitude is a crime, I publicly returned thanks to the clergy for the pains they had taken to give me an audience. And I may say, in this connection, that if the ministers do God as little good as they do me harm, they had better let both of us alone. I regard them as very good, but exceedingly mistaken men. They do not come much in contact with the world, and get most of their views by talking with the women and children of their congregations. They are not permitted to mingle freely with society. They cannot attend plays nor hear operas. I believe some of them have ventured to minstrel shows and menageries, where they confine themselves strictly to the animal part of the entertainment. But, as a rule, they have very few opportunities of ascertaining what the real public opinion is. They read religious papers, edited by gentlemen who know as little about the world as themselves, and the result of all this is that they are rather behind the times. They are good men, and would like to do right if they only knew it, but they are a little behind the times. There is an old story told of a fellow who had a post-office in a small town in North Carolina, and he being the only man in the town who could read, a few people used to gather in the post-office on Sunday, and he would read to them a weekly paper that was published in Washington. He commenced always at the top of the first column and read right straight through, articles, advertisements, and all, and whenever they got a little tired of reading he would make a mark of red ochre and commence at that place the next Sunday. The result was that the papers came a great deal faster than he read them, and it was about 1817 when they struck the war of 1812. The moment they got to that, every one of them jumped up and offered to volunteer. All of which shows that they were patriotic people, but a little show, and somewhat behind the times.

Question. How were you pleased with the Paine meeting here, and its results?

Answer. I was gratified to see so many people willing at last to do justice to a great and a maligned man. Of course I do not claim that Paine was perfect. All I claim is that he was a patriot and a political philosopher; that he was a revolutionist and an agitator; that he was infinitely full of suggestive thought, and that he did more than any man to convince the people of American not only that they ought to separate from Great Britain, but that they ought to found a representative government. He has been despised simply because he did not believe the Bible. I wish to do what I can to rescue his name from theological defamation. I think the day has come when Thomas Paine will be remembered with Washington, Franklin and Jefferson, and that the American people will wonder that their fathers could have been guilty of such base ingratitude.

Chicago Times, February 8, 1880.


Question. Have you read the replies of the clergy to your recent lecture in this city on "What Must we do to be Saved?" and if so what do you think of them?

Answer. I think they dodge the point. The real point is this: If salvation by faith is the real doctrine of Christianity, I asked on Sunday before last, and I still ask, why didn't Matthew tell it? I still insist that Mark should have remembered it, and I shall always believe that Luke ought, at least, to have noticed it. I was endeavoring to show that modern Christianity has for its basis an interpolation. I think I showed it. The only gospel on the orthodox side is that of John, and that was certainly not written, or did not appear in its present form, until long after the others were written.

I know very well that the Catholic Church claimed during the Dark Ages, and still claims, that references had been made to the gospels by persons living in the first, second, and third centuries; but I believe such manuscripts were manufactured by the Catholic Church. For many years in Europe there was not one person in twenty thousand who could read and write. During that time the church had in its keeping the literature of our world. They interpolated as they pleased. They created. They destroyed. In other words, they did whatever in their opinion was necessary to substantiate the faith.

The gentlemen who saw fit to reply did not answer the question, and I again call upon the clergy to explain to the people why, if salvation depends upon belief on the Lord Jesus Christ, Matthew didn't mention it. Some one has said that Christ didn't make known this doctrine of salvation by belief or faith until after his resurrection. Certainly none of the gospels were written until after his resurrection; and if he made that doctrine known after his resurrection, and before his ascension, it should have been in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, as well as in John.

The replies of the clergy show that they have not investigated the subject; that they are not well acquainted with the New Testament. In other words, they have not read it except with the regulation theological bias.

There is one thing I wish to correct here. In an editorial in the Tribune it was stated that I had admitted that Christ was beyond and above Buddha, Zoroaster, Confucius, and others. I did not say so. Another point was made against me, and those who made it seemed to think it was a good one. In my lecture I asked why it was that the disciples of Christ wrote in Greek, whereas, if fact, they understood only Hebrew. It is now claimed that Greek was the language of Jerusalem at that time; that Hebrew had fallen into disuse; that no one understood it except the literati and the highly educated. If I fell into an error upon this point it was because I relied upon the New Testament. I find in the twenty-first chapter of the Acts an account of Paul having been mobbed in the city of Jerusalem; that he was protected by a chief captain and some soldiers; that, while upon the stairs of the castle to which he was being taken for protection, he obtained leave from the captain to speak unto the people. In the fortieth verse of that chapter I find the following:

"And when he had given him license, Paul stood on the stairs and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying,"

And then follows the speech of Paul, wherein he gives an account of his conversion. It seems a little curious to me that Paul, for the purpose of quieting a mob, would speak to that mob in an unknown language. If I were mobbed in the city of Chicago, and wished to defend myself with an explanation, I certainly would not make that explanation in Choctaw, even if I understood that tongue. My present opinion is that I would speak in English; and the reason I would speak in English is because that language is generally understood in this city, and so I conclude from the account in the twenty-first chapter of the Acts that Hebrew was the language of Jerusalem at that time, or Paul would not have addressed the mob in that tongue.

Question. Did you read Mr. Courtney's answer?

Answer. I read what Mr. Courtney read from others, and think some of his quotations very good; and have no doubt that the authors will feel complimented by being quoted. There certainly is no need of my answering Dr. Courtney; sometime I may answer the French gentlemen from whom he quoted.

Question. But what about there being "belief" in Matthew?

Answer. Mr. Courtney says that certain people were cured of diseases on account of faith. Admitting that mumps, measles, and whooping-cough could be cured in that way, there is not even a suggestion that salvation depended upon a like faith. I think he can hardly afford to rely upon the miracles of the New Testament to prove his doctrine. There is one instance in which a miracle was performed by Christ without his knowledge; and I hardly think that even Mr. Courtney would insist that any faith could have been great enough for that. The fact is, I believe that all these miracles were ascribed to Christ long after his death, and that Christ never, at any time or place, pretended to have any supernatural power whatever. Neither do I believe that he claimed any supernatural origin. He claimed simply to be a man; no less, no more. I do not believe Mr. Courtney is satisfied with his own reply.

Question. And now as to Prof. Swing?

Answer. Mr. Swing has been out of the orthodox church so long that he seems to have forgotten the reasons for which he left it. I do not believe there is an orthodox minister in the city of Chicago who will agree with Mr. Swing that salvation by faith is no longer preached. Prof. Swing seems to think it of no importance who wrote the gospel of Matthew. In this I agree with him. Judging from what he said there is hardly difference enough of opinion between us to justify a reply on his part. He, however, makes one mistake. I did not in the lecture say one word about tearing down churches. I have no objection to people building all the churches they wish. While I admit it is a pretty sight to see children on a morning in June going through the fields to the country church, I still insist that the beauty of that sight does not answer the question how it is that Matthew forgot to say anything about salvation through Christ. Prof. Swing is a man of poetic temperament, but this is not a poetic question.

Question. How did the card of Dr. Thomas strike you?

Answer. I think the reply of Dr. Thomas is in the best possible spirit. I regard him to-day as the best intellect in the Methodist denomination. He seems to have what is generally understood as a Christian spirit. He has always treated me with perfect fairness, and I should have said long ago many grateful things, had I not feared I might hurt him with his own people. He seems to be by nature a perfectly fair man; and I know of no man in the United States for whom I have a profounder respect. Of course, I don't agree with Dr. Thomas. I think in many things he is mistaken. But I believe him to be perfectly sincere. There is one trouble about him—he is growing; and this fact will no doubt give great trouble to many of his brethren. Certain Methodist hazel-brush feel a little uneasy in the shadow of this oak. To see the difference between him and some others, all that is necessary is to read his reply, and then read the remarks made at the Methodist ministers' meeting on the Monday following. Compared with Dr. Thomas, they are as puddles by the sea. There is the same difference that there is between sewers and rivers, cesspools and springs.

Question. What have you to say to the remarks of the Rev. Dr. Jewett before the Methodist ministers' meeting?

Answer. I think Dr. Jewett is extremely foolish. I did not say that I would commence suit against a minister for libel. I can hardly conceive of a proceeding that would be less liable to produce a dividend. The fact about it is, that the Rev. Mr. Jewett seems to think anything true that he hears against me. Mr. Jewett is probably ashamed of what he said by this time. He must have known it to be entirely false. It seems to me by this time even the most bigoted should lose their confidence in falsehood. Of course there are times when a falsehood well told bridges over quite a difficulty, but in the long run you had better tell the truth, even if you swim the creek. I am astonished that these ministers were willing to exhibit their wounds to the world. I supposed of course I would hit some, but I had no idea of wounding so many.

Question. Mr. Crafts stated that you were in the habit of swearing in company and before your family?

Answer. I often swear. In other words, I take the name of God in vain; that is to say, I take it without any practical thing resulting from it, and in that sense I think most ministers are guilty of the same thing. I heard an old story of a clergyman who rebuked a neighbor for swearing, to whom the neighbor replied, "You pray and I swear, but as a matter of fact neither of us means anything by it." As to the charge that I am in the habit of using indecent language in my family, no reply is needed. I am willing to leave that question to the people who know us both. Mr. Crafts says he was told this by a lady. This cannot by any possibility be true, for no lady will tell a falsehood. Besides, if this woman of whom he speaks was a lady, how did she happen to stay where obscene language was being used? No lady ever told Mr. Crafts any such thing. It may be that a lady did tell him that I used profane language. I admit that I have not always spoken of the Devil in a respectful way; that I have sometimes referred to his residence when it was not a necessary part of the conversation, and that a divers times I have used a good deal of the terminology of the theologian when the exact words of the scientist might have done as well. But if by swearing is meant the use of God's name in vain, there are very few preachers who do not swear more than I do, if by "in vain" is meant without any practical result. I leave Mr. Crafts to cultivate the acquaintance of the unknown lady, knowing as I do, that after they have talked this matter over again they will find that both have been mistaken.

I sincerely regret that clergymen who really believe that an infinite God is on their side think it necessary to resort to such things to defeat one man. According to their idea, God is against me, and they ought to have confidence in this infinite wisdom and strength to suppose that he could dispose of one man, even if they failed to say a word against me. Had you not asked me I should have said nothing to you on these topics. Such charges cannot hurt me. I do not believe it possible for such men to injure me. No one believes what they say, and the testimony of such clergymen against an Infidel is no longer considered of value. I believe it was Goethe who said, "I always know that I am traveling when I hear the dogs bark."

Question. Are you going to make a formal reply to their sermons?

Answer. Not unless something better is done than has been. Of course, I don't know what another Sabbath may bring forth. I am waiting. But of one thing I feel perfectly assured; that no man in the United States, or in the world, can account for the fact, if we are to be saved only by faith in Christ, that Matthew forgot it, that Luke said nothing about it, and that Mark never mentioned it except in two passages written by another person. Until that is answered, as one grave-digger says to the other in "Hamlet," I shall say, "Ay, tell me that and unyoke." In the meantime I wish to keep on the best terms with all parties concerned. I cannot see why my forgiving spirit fails to gain their sincere praise.

Chicago Tribune, September 30, 1880.


Question. Do you really think, Colonel, that the country has just passed through a crisis?

Answer. Yes; there was a crisis and a great one. The question was whether a Northern or Southern idea of the powers and duties of the Federal Government was to prevail. The great victory of yesterday means that the Rebellion was not put down on the field of war alone, but that we have conquered in the realm of thought. The bayonet has been justified by argument. No party can ever succeed in this country that even whispers "State Sovereignty." That doctrine has become odious. The sovereignty of the State means a Government without power, and citizens without protection.

Question. Can you see any further significance in the present Republican victory other than that the people do not wish to change the general policy of the present administration?

Answer. Yes; the people have concluded that the lips of America shall be free. There never was free speech at the South, and there never will be until the people of that section admit that the Nation is superior to the State, and that all citizens have equal rights. I know of hundreds who voted the Republican ticket because they regarded the South as hostile to free speech. The people were satisfied with the financial policy of the Republicans, and they feared a change. The North wants honest money—gold and silver. The people are in favor of honest votes, and they feared the practices of the Democratic party. The tissue ballot and shotgun policy made them hesitate to put power in the hands of the South. Besides, the tariff question made thousands and thousands of votes. As long as Europe has slave labor, and wherever kings and priests rule, the laborer will be substantially a slave. We must protect ourselves. If the world were free, trade would be free, and the seas would be the free highways of the world. The great objects of the Republican party are to preserve all the liberty we have, protect American labor, and to make it the undisputed duty of the Government to protect every citizen at home and abroad.

Question. What do you think was the main cause of the Republican sweep?

Answer. The wisdom of the Republicans and the mistakes of the Democrats. The Democratic party has for twenty years underrated the intelligence, the patriotism and the honesty of the American people. That party has always looked upon politics as a trade, and success as the last act of a cunning trick. It has had no principles, fixed or otherwise. It has always been willing to abandon everything but its prejudices. It generally commences where it left off and then goes backward. In this campaign English was a mistake, Hancock was another. Nothing could have been more incongruous than yoking a Federal soldier with a peace-at-any-price Democrat. Neither could praise the other without slandering himself, and the blindest partisan could not like them both. But, after all, I regard the military record of English as fully equal to the views of General Hancock on the tariff. The greatest mistake that the Democratic party made was to suppose that a campaign could be fought and won by slander. The American people like fair play and they abhor ignorant and absurd vituperation. The continent knew that General Garfield was an honest man; that he was in the grandest sense a gentleman; that he was patriotic, profound and learned; that his private life was pure; that his home life was good and kind and true, and all the charges made and howled and screeched and printed and sworn to harmed only those who did the making and the howling, the screeching and the swearing. I never knew a man in whose perfect integrity I had more perfect confidence, and in less than one year even the men who have slandered him will agree with me.

Question. How about that "personal and confidential letter"? (The Morey letter.)

Answer. It was as stupid, as devilish, as basely born as godfathered. It is an exploded forgery, and the explosion leaves dead and torn upon the field the author and his witnesses.

Question. Is there anything in the charge that the Republican party seeks to change our form of government by gradual centralization?

Answer. Nothing whatever. We want power enough in the Government to protect, not to destroy, the liberties of the people. The history of the world shows that burglars have always opposed an increase of the police.

New York Herald, November 5, 1880.


[* The sensation created by the speech of the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher at the Academy of Music, in Brooklyn, when he uttered a brilliant eulogy of Col. Robert Ingersoll and publicly shook hands with him has not yet subsided. A portion of the religious world is thoroughly stirred up at what it considers a gross breach of orthodox propriety. This feeling is especially strong among the class of positivists who believe that

  "An Atheist's laugh's a poor exchange
   For Deity offended."

Many believe that Mr. Beecher is at heart in full sympathy and accord with Ingersoll's teachings, but has not courage enough to say so at the sacrifice of his pastoral position. The fact that these two men are the very head and front of their respective schools of thought makes the matter an important one. The denouncement of the doctrine of eternal punishment, followed by the scene at the Academy, has about it an aroma of suggestiveness that might work much harm without an explanation. Since Colonel Ingersoll's recent attack upon the personnel of the clergy through the "Shorter Catechism" the pulpit has been remarkably silent regarding the great atheist. "Is the keen logic and broad humanity of Ingersoll converting the brain and heart of Christendom?" was recently asked. Did the hand that was stretched out to him on the stage of the Academy reach across the chasm which separates orthodoxy from infidelity?

Desiring to answer the last question if possible, a Herald reporter visited Mr. Beecher and Colonel Ingersoll to learn their opinion of each other. Neither of the gentlemen was aware that the other was being interviewed.]

Question. What is your opinion of Mr. Beecher?

Answer. I regard him as the greatest man in any pulpit of the world. He treated me with a generosity that nothing can exceed. He rose grandly above the prejudices supposed to belong to his class, and acted as only a man could act without a chain upon his brain and only kindness in his heart.

I told him that night that I congratulated the world that it had a minister with an intellectual horizon broad enough and a mental sky studded with stars of genius enough to hold all creeds in scorn that shocked the heart of man. I think that Mr. Beecher has liberalized the English-speaking people of the world.

I do not think he agrees with me. He holds to many things that I most passionately deny. But in common, we believe in the liberty of thought.

My principal objections to orthodox religion are two—slavery here and hell hereafter. I do not believe that Mr. Beecher on these points can disagree with me. The real difference between us is— he says God, I say Nature. The real agreement between us is—we both say—Liberty.

Question. What is his forte?

Answer. He is of a wonderfully poetic temperament. In pursuing any course of thought his mind is like a stream flowing through the scenery of fairyland. The stream murmurs and laughs while the banks grow green and the vines blossom.

His brain is controlled by his heart. He thinks in pictures. With him logic means mental melody. The discordant is the absurd.

For years he has endeavored to hide the dungeon of orthodoxy with the ivy of imagination. Now and then he pulls for a moment the leafy curtain aside and is horrified to see the lizards, snakes, basilisks and abnormal monsters of the orthodox age, and then he utters a great cry, the protest of a loving, throbbing heart.

He is a great thinker, a marvelous orator, and, in my judgment, greater and grander than any creed of any church.

Besides all this, he treated me like a king. Manhood is his forte, and I expect to live and die his friend.


Question. What is your opinion of Colonel Ingersoll?

Answer. I do not think there should be any misconception as to my motive for indorsing Mr. Ingersoll. I never saw him before that night, when I clasped his hand in the presence of an assemblage of citizens. Yet I regard him as one of the greatest men of this age.

Question. Is his influence upon the world good or otherwise?

Answer. I am an ordained clergyman and believe in revealed religion. I am, therefore, bound to regard all persons who do not believe in revealed religion as in error. But on the broad platform of human liberty and progress I was bound to give him the right hand of fellowship. I would do it a thousand times over. I do not know Colonel Ingersoll's religious views precisely, but I have a general knowledge of them. He has the same right to free thought and free speech that I have. I am not that kind of a coward who has to kick a man before he shakes hands with him. If I did so I would have to kick the Methodists, Roman Catholics and all other creeds. I will not pitch into any man's religion as an excuse for giving him my hand. I admire Ingersoll because he is not afraid to speak what he honestly thinks, and I am only sorry that he does not think as I do. I never heard so much brilliancy and pith put into a two hour speech as I did on that night. I wish my whole congregation had been there to hear it. I regret that there are not more men like Ingersoll interested in the affairs of the nation. I do not wish to be understood as indorsing skepticism in any form.

New York Herald, November 7, 1880.


Question. Is it true, as rumored, that you intend to leave Washington and reside in New York?

Answer. No, I expect to remain here for years to come, so far as I can now see. My present intention is certainly to stay here during the coming winter.

Question. Is this because you regard Washington as the pleasantest and most advantageous city for a residence?

Answer. Well, in the first place, I dislike to move. In the next place, the climate is good. In the third place, the political atmosphere has been growing better of late, and when you consider that I avoid one dislike and reap the benefits of two likes, you can see why I remain.

Question. Do you think that the moral atmosphere will improve with the political atmosphere?

Answer. I would hate to say that this city is capable of any improvement in the way of morality. We have a great many churches, a great many ministers, and, I believe, some retired chaplains, so I take it that the moral tone of the place could hardly be bettered. One majority in the Senate might help it. Seriously, however, I think that Washington has as high a standard of morality as any city in the Union. And it is one of the best towns in which to loan money without collateral in the world.

Question. Do you know this from experience?

Answer. This I have been told [was the solemn answer.]

Question. Do you think that the political features of the incoming administration will differ from the present?

Answer. Of course, I have no right to speak for General Garfield. I believe his administration will be Republican, at the same time perfectly kind, manly, and generous. He is a man to harbor no resentment. He knows that it is the duty of statesmanship to remove causes of irritation rather then punish the irritated.

Question. Do I understand you to imply that there will be a neutral policy, as it were, towards the South?

Answer. No, I think that there will be nothing neutral about it. I think that the next administration will be one-sided—that is, it will be on the right side. I know of no better definition for a compromise than to say it is a proceeding in which hypocrites deceive each other. I do not believe that the incoming administration will be neutral in anything. The American people do not like neutrality. They would rather a man were on the wrong side than on neither. And, in my judgment, there is no paper so utterly unfair, malicious and devilish, as one that claims to be neutral. No politician is as bitter as a neutral politician. Neutrality is generally used as a mask to hide unusual bitterness. Sometimes it hides what it is—nothing. It always stands for hollowness of head or bitterness of heart, sometimes for both. My idea is—and that is the only reason I have the right to express it—that General Garfield believes in the platform adopted by the Republican party. He believes in free speech, in honest money, in divorce of church and state, and he believes in the protection of American citizens by the Federal Government wherever the flag flies. He believes that the Federal Government is as much bound to protect the citizen at home as abroad. I believe he will do the very best he can to carry these great ideas into execution and make them living realities in the United States. Personally, I have no hatred toward the Southern people. I have no hatred toward any class. I hate tyranny, no matter whether it is South or North; I hate hypocrisy, and I hate above all things, the spirit of caste. If the Southern people could only see that they gained as great a victory in the Rebellion as the North did, and some day they will see it, the whole question would be settled. The South has reaped a far greater benefit from being defeated than the North has from being successful, and I believe some day the South will be great enough to appreciate that fact. I have always insisted that to be beaten by the right is to be a victor. The Southern people must get over the idea that they are insulted simply because they are out-voted, and they ought by this time to know that the Republicans of the North, not only do not wish them harm, but really wish them the utmost success.

Question. But has the Republican party all the good and the Democratic all the bad?

Answer. No, I do not think that the Republican party has all the good, nor do I pretend that the Democratic party has all the bad; though I may say that each party comes pretty near it. I admit that there are thousands of really good fellows in the Democratic party, and there are some pretty bad people in the Republican party. But I honestly believe that within the latter are most of the progressive men of this country. That party has in it the elements of growth. It is full of hope. It anticipates. The Democratic party remembers. It is always talking about the past. It is the possessor of a vast amount of political rubbish, and I really believe it has outlived its usefulness. I firmly believe that your editor, Mr. Hutchings, could start a better organization, if he would only turn his attention to it. Just think for a moment of the number you could get rid of by starting a new party. A hundred names will probably suggest themselves to any intelligent Democrat, the loss of which would almost insure success. Some one has said that a tailor in Boston made a fortune by advertising that he did not cut the breeches of Webster's statue. A new party by advertising that certain men would not belong to it, would have an advantage in the next race.

Question. What, in your opinion, were the causes which led to the Democratic defeat?

Answer. I think the nomination of English was exceedingly unfortunate. Indiana, being an October State, the best man in that State should have been nominated either for President or Vice- President. Personally, I know nothing of Mr. English, but I have the right to say that he was exceedingly unpopular. That was mistake number one. Mistake number two was putting a plank in the platform insisting upon a tariff for revenue only. That little word "only" was one of the most frightful mistakes ever made by a political party. That little word "only" was a millstone around the neck of the entire campaign. The third mistake was Hancock's definition of the tariff. It was exceedingly unfortunate, exceedingly laughable, and came just in the nick of time. The fourth mistake was the speech of Wade Hampton, I mean the speech that the Republican papers claim he made. Of course I do not know, personally, whether it was made or not. If made, it was a great mistake. Mistake number five was made in Alabama, where they refused to allow a Greenbacker to express his opinion. That lost the Democrats enough Greenbackers to turn the scale in Maine, and enough in Indiana to change that election. Mistake number six was in the charges made against General Garfield. They were insisted upon, magnified and multiplied until at last the whole thing assumed the proportions of a malicious libel. This was a great mistake, for the reason that a number of Democrats in the United States had most heartily and cordially indorsed General Garfield as a man of integrity and great ability. Such indorsements had been made by the leading Democrats of the North and South, among them Governor Hendricks and many others I might name. Jere Black had also certified to the integrity and intellectual grandeur of General Garfield, and when afterward he certified to the exact contrary, the people believed that it was a persecution. The next mistake, number seven, was the Chinese letter. While it lost Garfield California, Nevada, and probably New Jersey, it did him good in New York. This letter was the greatest mistake made, because a crime is greater than a mistake. These, in my judgment, are the principal mistakes made by the Democratic party in the campaign. Had McDonald been on the ticket the result might have been different, or had the party united on some man in New York, satisfactory to the factions, it might have succeeded. The truth, however, is that the North to-day is Republican, and it may be that had the Democratic party made no mistakes whatever the result would have been the same. But that mistakes were made is now perfectly evident to the blindest partisan. If the ticket originally suggested, Seymour and McDonald, had been nominated on an unobjectionable platform, the result might have been different. One of the happiest days in my life was the day on which the Cincinnati convention did not nominate Seymour and did nominate English. I regard General Hancock as a good soldier, but not particularly qualified to act as President. He has neither the intellectual training nor the experience to qualify him for that place.

Question. You have doubtless heard of a new party, Colonel. What is your idea in regard to it?

Answer. I have heard two or three speak of a new party to be called the National party, or National Union party, but whether there is anything in such a movement I have no means of knowing. Any party in opposition to the Republican, no matter what it may be called, must win on a new issue, and that new issue will determine the new party. Parties cannot be made to order. They must grow. They are the natural offspring of national events. They must embody certain hopes, they must gratify, or promise to gratify, the feelings of a vast number of people. No man can make a party, and if a new party springs into existence it will not be brought forth to gratify the wishes of a few, but the wants of the many. It has seemed to me for years that the Democratic party carried too great a load in the shape of record; that its autobiography was nearly killing it all the time, and that if it could die just long enough to assume another form at the resurrection, just long enough to leave a grave stone to mark the end of its history, to get a cemetery back of it, that it might hope for something like success. In other words, that there must be a funeral before there can be victory. Most of its leaders are worn out. They have become so accustomed to defeat that they take it as a matter of course; they expect it in the beginning and seem unconsciously to work for it. There must be some new ideas, and this only can happen when the party as such has been gathered to its fathers. I do not think that the advice of Senator Hill will be followed. He is willing to kill the Democratic party in the South if we will kill the Republican party in the North. This puts me in mind of what the rooster said to the horse: "Let us agree not to step on each other's feet."

Question. Your views of the country's future and prospects must naturally be rose colored?

Answer. Of course, I look at things through Republican eyes and may be prejudiced without knowing it. But it really seems to me that the future is full of great promise. The South, after all, is growing more prosperous. It is producing more and more every year, until in time it will become wealthy. The West is growing almost beyond the imagination of a speculator, and the Eastern and Middle States are much more than holding their own. We have now fifty millions of people and in a few years will have a hundred. That we are a Nation I think is now settled. Our growth will be unparalleled. I myself expect to live to see as many ships on the Pacific as on the Atlantic. In a few years there will probably be ten millions of people living along the Rocky and Sierra Mountains. It will not be long until Illinois will find her market west of her. In fifty years this will be the greatest nation on the earth, and the most populous in the civilized world. China is slowly awakening from the lethargy of centuries. It will soon have the wants of Europe, and America will supply those wants. This is a nation of inventors and there is more mechanical ingenuity in the United States than on the rest of the globe. In my judgment this country will in a short time add to its customers hundreds of millions of the people of the Celestial Empire. So you see, to me, the future is exceedingly bright. And besides all this, I must not forget the thing that is always nearest my heart. There is more intellectual liberty in the United States to-day than ever before. The people are beginning to see that every citizen ought to have the right to express himself freely upon every possible subject. In a little while, all the barbarous laws that now disgrace the statute books of the States by discriminating against a man simply because he is honest, will be repealed, and there will be one country where all citizens will have and enjoy not only equal rights, but all rights. Nothing gratifies me so much as the growth of intellectual liberty. After all, the true civilization is where every man gives to every other, every right that he claims for himself.

The Post, Washington, D. C., November 14, 1880.


Question. How do you regard the present political situation?

Answer. My opinion is that the ideas the North fought for upon the field have at last triumphed at the ballot-box. For several years after the Rebellion was put down the Southern ideas traveled North. We lost West Virginia, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York and a great many congressional districts in other States. We lost both houses of Congress and every Southern State. The Southern ideas reached their climax in 1876. In my judgment the tide has turned, and hereafter the Northern idea is going South. The young men are on the Republican side. The old Democrats are dying. The cradle is beating the coffin. It is a case of life and death, and life is ahead. The heirs outnumber the administrators.

Question. What kind of a President will Garfield make?

Answer. My opinion is that he will make as good a President as this nation ever had. He is fully equipped. He is a trained statesman. He has discussed all the great questions that have arisen for the last eighteen years, and with great ability. He is a thorough scholar, a conscientious student, and takes an exceedingly comprehensive survey of all questions. He is genial, generous and candid, and has all the necessary qualities of heart and brain to make a great President. He has no prejudices. Prejudice is the child and flatterer of ignorance. He is firm, but not obstinate. The obstinate man wants his own way; the firm man stands by the right. Andrew Johnson was obstinate—Lincoln was firm.

Question. How do you think he will treat the South?

Answer. Just the same as the North. He will be the President of the whole country. He will not execute the laws by the compass, but according to the Constitution. I do not speak for General Garfield, nor by any authority from his friends. No one wishes to injure the South. The Republican party feels in honor bound to protect all citizens, white and black. It must do this in order to keep its self-respect. It must throw the shield of the Nation over the weakest, the humblest and the blackest citizen. Any other course is suicide. No thoughtful Southern man can object to this, and a Northern Democrat knows that it is right.

Question. Is there a probability that Mr. Sherman will be retained in the Cabinet?

Answer. I have no knowledge upon that question, and consequently have nothing to say. My opinion about the Cabinet is, that General Garfield is well enough acquainted with public men to choose a Cabinet that will suit him and the country. I have never regarded it as the proper thing to try and force a Cabinet upon a President. He has the right to be surrounded by his friends, by men in whose judgment and in whose friendship he has the utmost confidence, and I would no more think of trying to put some man in the Cabinet that I would think of signing a petition that a man should marry a certain woman. General Garfield will, I believe, select his own constitutional advisers, and he will take the best he knows.

Question. What, in your opinion, is the condition of the Democratic party at present?

Answer. It must get a new set of principles, and throw away its prejudices. It must demonstrate its capacity to govern the country by governing the States where it is in power. In the presence of rebellion it gave up the ship. The South must become Republican before the North will willingly give it power; that is, the great ideas of nationality are greater than parties, and if our flag is not large enough to protect every citizen, we must add a few more stars and stripes. Personally I have no hatreds in this matter. The present is not only the child of the past, but the necessary child. A statesman must deal with things as they are. He must not be like Gladstone, who divides his time between foreign wars and amendments to the English Book of Common Prayer.

Question. How do you regard the religious question in politics?

Answer. Religion is a personal matter—a matter that each individual soul should be allowed to settle for itself. No man shod in the brogans of impudence should walk into the temple of another man's soul. While every man should be governed by the highest possible considerations of the public weal, no one has the right to ask for legal assistance in the support of his particular sect. If Catholics oppose the public schools I would not oppose them because they are Catholics, but because I am in favor of the schools. I regard the public school as the intellectual bread of life. Personally I have no confidence in any religion that can be demonstrated only to children. I suspect all creeds that rely implicitly on mothers and nurses. That religion is the best that commends itself the strongest to men and women of education and genius. After all, the prejudices of infancy and the ignorance of the aged are a poor foundation for any system of morals or faith. I respect every honest man, and I think more of a liberal Catholic than of an illiberal Infidel. The religious question should be left out of politics. You might as well decide questions of art and music by a ward caucus as to govern the longings and dreams of the soul by law. I believe in letting the sun shine whether the weeds grow or not. I can never side with Protestants if they try to put Catholics down by law, and I expect to oppose both of these until religious intolerance is regarded as a crime.

Question. Is the religious movement of which you are the chief exponent spreading?

Answer. There are ten times as many Freethinkers this year as there were last. Civilization is the child of free thought. The new world has drifted away from the rotting wharf of superstition. The politics of this country are being settled by the new ideas of individual liberty; and parties and churches that cannot accept the new truths must perish. I want it perfectly understood that I am not a politician. I believe in liberty and I want to see the time when every man, woman and child will enjoy every human right.

The election is over, the passions aroused by the campaign will soon subside, the sober judgment of the people will, in my opinion, indorse the result, and time will indorse the indorsement.

The Evening Express, New York City, November 19, 1880.


Question. You have seen some accounts of the recent sermon of Dr. Tyng on "Miracles," I presume, and if so, what is your opinion of the sermon, and also what is your opinion of miracles?

Answer. From an orthodox standpoint, I think the Rev. Dr. Tyng is right. If miracles were necessary eighteen hundred years ago, before scientific facts enough were known to overthrow hundreds and thousands of passages in the Bible, certainly they are necessary now. Dr. Tyng sees clearly that the old miracles are nearly worn out, and that some new ones are absolutely essential. He takes for granted that, if God would do a miracle to found his gospel, he certainly would do some more to preserve it, and that it is in need of preservation about now is evident. I am amazed that the religious world should laugh at him for believing in miracles. It seems to me just as reasonable that the deaf, dumb, blind and lame, should be cured at Lourdes as at Palestine. It certainly is no more wonderful that the law of nature should be broken now than that it was broken several thousand years ago. Dr. Tyng also has this advantage. The witnesses by whom he proves these miracles are alive. An unbeliever can have the opportunity of cross- examination. Whereas, the miracles in the New Testament are substantiated only by the dead. It is just as reasonable to me that blind people receive their sight in France as that devils were made to vacate human bodies in the holy land.

For one I am exceedingly glad that Dr. Tyng has taken this position. It shows that he is a believer in a personal God, in a God who is attending a little to the affairs of this world, and in a God who did not exhaust his supplies in the apostolic age. It is refreshing to me to find in this scientific age a gentleman who still believes in miracles. My opinion is that all thorough religionists will have to take the ground and admit that a supernatural religion must be supernaturally preserved.

I have been asking for a miracle for several years, and have in a very mild, gentle and loving way, taunted the church for not producing a little one. I have had the impudence to ask any number of them to join in a prayer asking anything they desire for the purpose of testing the efficiency of what is known as supplication. They answer me by calling my attention to the miracles recorded in the New Testament. I insist, however, on a new miracle, and, personally, I would like to see one now. Certainly, the Infinite has not lost his power, and certainly the Infinite knows that thousands and hundreds of thousands, if the Bible is true, are now pouring over the precipice of unbelief into the gulf of hell. One little miracle would save thousands. One little miracle in Pittsburg, well authenticated, would do more good than all the preaching ever heard in this sooty town. The Rev. Dr. Tyng clearly sees this, and he has been driven to the conclusion, first, that God can do miracles; second, that he ought to, third, that he has. In this he is perfectly logical. After a man believes the Bible, after he believes in the flood and in the story of Jonah, certainly he ought not to hesitate at a miracle of to-day. When I say I want a miracle, I mean by that, I want a good one. All the miracles recorded in the New Testament could have been simulated. A fellow could have pretended to be dead, or blind, or dumb, or deaf. I want to see a good miracle. I want to see a man with one leg, and then I want to see the other leg grow out.

I would like to see a miracle like that performed in North Carolina. Two men were disputing about the relative merits of the salve they had for sale. One of the men, in order to demonstrate that his salve was better than any other, cut off a dog's tail and applied a little of the salve to the stump, and, in the presence of the spectators, a new tail grew out. But the other man, who also had salve for sale, took up the piece of tail that had been cast away, put a little salve at the end of that, and a new dog grew out, and the last heard of those parties they were quarrelling as to who owned the second dog. Something like that is what I call a miracle.

Question. What do you believe about the immortality of the soul? Do you believe that the spirit lives as an individual after the body is dead?

Answer. I have said a great many times that it is no more wonderful that we should live again than that we do live. Sometimes I have thought it not quite so wonderful for the reason that we have a start. But upon that subject I have not the slightest information. Whether man lives again or not I cannot pretend to say. There may be another world and there may not be. If there is another world we ought to make the best of it after arriving there. If there is not another world, or if there is another world, we ought to make the best of this. And since nobody knows, all should be permitted to have their opinions, and my opinion is that nobody knows.

If we take the Old Testament for authority, man is not immortal. The Old Testament shows man how he lost immortality. According to Genesis, God prevented man from putting forth his hand and eating of the Tree of Life. It is there stated, had he succeeded, man would have lived forever. God drove him from the garden, preventing him eating of this tree, and in consequence man became mortal; so that if we go by the Old Testament we are compelled to give up immortality. The New Testament has but little on the subject. In one place we are told to seek for immortality. If we are already immortal, it is hard to see why we should go on seeking for it. In another place we are told that they who are worthy to obtain that world and the resurrection of the dead, are not given in marriage. From this one would infer there would be some unworthy to be raised from the dead. Upon the question of immortality, the Old Testament throws but little satisfactory light. I do not deny immortality, nor would I endeavor to shake the belief of anybody in another life. What I am endeavoring to do is to put out the fires of hell. If we cannot have heaven without hell, I am in favor of abolishing heaven. I do not want to go to heaven if one soul is doomed to agony. I would rather be annihilated.

My opinion of immortality is this:

First.—I live, and that of itself is infinitely wonderful.

Second.—There was a time when I was not, and after I was not, I was. Third.—Now that I am, I may be again; and it is no more wonderful that I may be again, if I have been, than that I am, having once been nothing. If the churches advocated immortality, if they advocated eternal justice, if they said that man would be rewarded and punished according to deeds; if they admitted that some time in eternity there would be an opportunity given to lift up souls, and that throughout all the ages the angels of progress and virtue would beckon the fallen upward; and that some time, and no matter how far away they might put off the time, all the children of men would be reasonably happy, I never would say a solitary word against the church, but just as long as they preach that the majority of mankind will suffer eternal pain, just so long I shall oppose them; that is to say, as long as I live.

Question. Do you believe in a God; and, if so, what kind of a God?

Answer. Let me, in the first place, lay a foundation for an answer.

First.—Man gets all food for thought through the medium of the senses. The effect of nature upon the senses, and through the senses upon the brain, must be natural. All food for thought, then, is natural. As a consequence of this, there can be no supernatural idea in the human brain. Whatever idea there is must have been a natural product. If, then, there is no supernatural idea in the human brain, then there cannot be in the human brain an idea of the supernatural. If we can have no idea of the supernatural, and if the God of whom you spoke is admitted to be supernatural, then, of course, I can have no idea of him, and I certainly can have no very fixed belief on any subject about which I have no idea.

There may be a God for all I know. There may be thousands of them. But the idea of an infinite Being outside and independent of nature is inconceivable. I do not know of any word that would explain my doctrine or my views upon the subject. I suppose Pantheism is as near as I could go. I believe in the eternity of matter and in the eternity of intelligence, but I do not believe in any Being outside of nature. I do not believe in any personal Deity. I do not believe in any aristocracy of the air. I know nothing about origin or destiny. Between these two horizons I live, whether I wish to or not, and must be satisfied with what I find between these two horizons. I have never heard any God described that I believe in. I have never heard any religion explained that I accept. To make something out of nothing cannot be more absurd than that an infinite intelligence made this world, and proceeded to fill it with crime and want and agony, and then, not satisfied with the evil he had wrought, made a hell in which to consummate the great mistake.

Question. Do you believe that the world, and all that is in it came by chance?

Answer. I do not believe anything comes by chance. I regard the present as the necessary child of a necessary past. I believe matter is eternal; that it has eternally existed and eternally will exist. I believe that in all matter, in some way, there is what we call force; that one of the forms of force is intelligence. I believe that whatever is in the universe has existed from eternity and will forever exist.

Secondly.—I exclude from my philosophy all ideas of chance. Matter changes eternally its form, never its essence. You cannot conceive of anything being created. No one can conceive of anything existing without a cause or with a cause. Let me explain; a thing is not a cause until an effect has been produced; so that, after all, cause and effect are twins coming into life at precisely the same instant, born of the womb of an unknown mother. The Universe in the only fact, and everything that ever has happened, is happening, or will happen, are but the different aspects of the one eternal fact.

The Dispatch, Pittsburg, Pa., December 11, 1880.


Question. What phases will the Southern question assume in the next four years?

Answer. The next Congress should promptly unseat every member of Congress in whose district there was not a fair and honest election. That is the first hard work to be done. Let notice, in this way, be given to the whole country, that fraud cannot succeed. No man should be allowed to hold a seat by force or fraud. Just as soon as it is understood that fraud is useless it will be abandoned. In that way the honest voters of the whole country can be protected.

An honest vote settles the Southern question, and Congress has the power to compel an honest vote, or to leave the dishonest districts without representation. I want this policy adopted, not only in the South, but in the North. No man touched or stained with fraud should be allowed to hold his seat. Send such men home, and let them stay there until sent back by honest votes. The Southern question is a Northern question, and the Republican party must settle it for all time. We must have honest elections, or the Republic must fall. Illegal voting must be considered and punished as a crime.

Taking one hundred and seventy thousand as the basis of representation, the South, through her astounding increase of colored population, gains three electoral votes, while the North and East lose three. Garfield was elected by the thirty thousand colored votes cast in New York.

Question. Will the negro continue to be the balance of power, and if so, will it inure to his benefit?

Answer. The more political power the colored man has the better he will be treated, and if he ever holds the balance of power he will be treated as well as the balance of our citizens. My idea is that the colored man should stand on an equality with the white before the law; that he should honestly be protected in all his rights; that he should be allowed to vote, and that his vote should be counted. It is a simple question of honesty. The colored people are doing well; they are industrious; they are trying to get an education, and, on the whole, I think they are behaving fully as well as the whites. They are the most forgiving people in the world, and about the only real Christians in our country. They have suffered enough, and for one I am on their side. I think more of honest black people than of dishonest whites, to say the least of it.

Question. Do you apprehend any trouble from the Southern leaders in this closing session of Congress, in attempts to force pernicious legislation?

Answer. I do not. The Southern leaders know that the doctrine of State Sovereignty is dead. They know that they cannot depend upon the Northern Democrat, and they know that the best interests of the South can only be preserved by admitting that the war settled the questions and ideas fought for and against. They know that this country is a Nation, and that no party can possibly succeed that advocates anything contrary to that. My own opinion is that most of the Southern leaders are heartily ashamed of the course pursued by their Northern friends, and will take the first opportunity to say so.

Question. In what light do you regard the Chinaman?

Answer. I am opposed to compulsory immigration, or cooley or slave immigration. If Chinamen are sent to this country by corporations or companies under contracts that amount to slavery or anything like it or near it, then I am opposed to it. But I am not prepared to say that I would be opposed to voluntary immigration. I see by the papers that a new treaty has been agreed upon that will probably be ratified and be satisfactory to all parties. We ought to treat China with the utmost fairness. If our treaty is wrong, amend it, but do so according to the recognized usage of nations. After what has been said and done in this country I think there is very little danger of any Chinaman voluntarily coming here. By this time China must have an exceedingly exalted opinion of our religion, and of the justice and hospitality born of our most holy faith.

Question. What is your opinion of making ex-Presidents Senators for life?

Answer. I am opposed to it. I am against any man holding office for life. And I see no more reason for making ex-Presidents Senators, than for making ex-Senators Presidents. To me the idea is preposterous. Why should ex-Presidents be taken care of? In this country labor is not disgraceful, and after a man has been President he has still the right to be useful. I am personally acquainted with several men who will agree, in consideration of being elected to the presidency, not to ask for another office during their natural lives. The people of this country should never allow a great man to suffer. The hand, not of charity, but of justice and generosity, should be forever open to those who have performed great public service.

But the ex-Presidents of the future may not all be great and good men, and bad ex-Presidents will not make good Senators. If the nation does anything, let it give a reasonable pension to ex- Presidents. No man feels like giving pension, power, or place to General Grant simply because he was once President, but because he was a great soldier, and led the armies of the nation to victory. Make him a General, and retire him with the highest military title. Let him grandly wear the laurels he so nobly won, and should the sky at any time be darkened with a cloud of foreign war, this country will again hand him the sword. Such a course honors the nation and the man.

Question. Are we not entering upon the era of our greatest prosperity?

Answer. We are just beginning to be prosperous. The Northern Pacific Railroad is to be completed. Forty millions of dollars have just been raised by that company, and new States will soon be born in the great Northwest. The Texas Pacific will be pushed to San Diego, and in a few years we will ride in a Pullman car from Chicago to the City of Mexico. The gold and silver mines are yielding more and more, and within the last ten years more than forty million acres of land have been changed from wilderness to farms. This country is beginning to grow. We have just fairly entered upon what I believe will be the grandest period of national development and prosperity. With the Republican party in power; with good money; with unlimited credit; with the best land in the world; with ninety thousand miles of railway; with mountains of gold and silver; with hundreds of thousands of square miles of coal fields; with iron enough for the whole world; with the best system of common schools; with telegraph wires reaching every city and town, so that no two citizens are an hour apart; with the telephone, that makes everybody in the city live next door, and with the best folks in the world, how can we help prospering until the continent is covered with happy homes?

Question. What do you think of civil service reform?

Answer. I am in favor of it. I want such civil service reform that all the offices will be filled with good and competent Republicans. The majority should rule, and the men who are in favor of the views of the majority should hold the offices. I am utterly opposed to the idea that a party should show its liberality at the expense of its principles. Men holding office can afford to take their chances with the rest of us. If they are Democrats, they should not expect to succeed when their party is defeated. I believe that there are enough good and honest Republicans in this country to fill all the offices, and I am opposed to taking any Democrats until the Republican supply is exhausted.

Men should not join the Republican party to get office. Such men are contemptible to the last degree. Neither should a Republican administration compel a man to leave the party to get a Federal appointment. After a great battle has been fought I do not believe that the victorious general should reward the officers of the conquered army. My doctrine is, rewards for friends.

The Commercial, Cincinnati, Ohio, December 6, 1880.


Question. Mr. Beecher is here. Have you seen him?

Answer. No, I did not meet Mr. Beecher. Neither did I hear him lecture. The fact is, that long ago I made up my mind that under no circumstances would I attend any lecture or other entertainment given at Lincoln Hall. First, because the hall has been denied me, and secondly, because I regard it as extremely unsafe. The hall is up several stories from the ground, and in case of the slightest panic, in my judgment, many lives would be lost. Had it not been for this, and for the fact that the persons owning it imagined that because they had control, the brick and mortar had some kind of holy and sacred quality, and that this holiness is of such a wonderful character that it would not be proper for a man in that hall to tell his honest thoughts, I would have heard him.

Question. Then I assume that you and Mr. Beecher have made up?

Answer. There is nothing to be made up for so far as I know. Mr. Beecher has treated me very well, and, I believe, a little too well for his own peace of mind. I have been informed that some members of Plymouth Church felt exceedingly hurt that their pastor should so far forget himself as to extend the right hand of fellowship to one who differs from him upon what they consider very essential points in theology. You see I have denied with all my might, a great many times, the infamous doctrine of eternal punishment. I have also had the temerity to suggest that I did not believe that a being of infinite justice and mercy was the author of all that I find in the Old Testament. As, for instance, I have insisted that God never commanded anybody to butcher women or to cut the throats of prattling babes. These orthodox gentlemen have rushed to the rescue of Jehovah by insisting that he did all these horrible things. I have also maintained that God never sanctioned or upheld human slavery; that he never would make one child to own and beat another.

I have also expressed some doubts as to whether this same God ever established the institution of polygamy. I have insisted that the institution is simply infamous; that it destroys the idea of home; that it turns to ashes the most sacred words in our language, and leaves the world a kind of den in which crawl the serpents of selfishness and lust. I have been informed that after Mr. Beecher had treated me kindly a few members of his congregation objected, and really felt ashamed that he had so forgotten himself. After that, Mr. Beecher saw fit to give his ideas of the position I had taken. In this he was not exceedingly kind, nor was his justice very conspicuous. But I cared nothing about that, not the least. As I have said before, whenever Mr. Beecher says a good thing I give him credit. Whenever he does an unfair or unjust thing I charge it to the account of his religion. I have insisted, and I still insist, that Mr. Beecher is far better than his creed. I do not believe that he believes in the doctrine of eternal punishment. Neither do I believe that he believes in the literal truth of the Scriptures. And, after all, if the Bible is not true, it is hardly worth while to insist upon its inspiration. An inspired lie is not better than an uninspired one. If the Bible is true it does not need to be inspired. If it is not true, inspiration does not help it. So that after all it is simply a question of fact. Is it true? I believe Mr. Beecher stated that one of my grievous faults was that I picked out the bad things in the Bible. How an infinitely good and wise God came to put bad things in his book Mr. Beecher does not explain. I have insisted that the Bible is not inspired, and, in order to prove that, have pointed out such passages as I deemed unworthy to have been written even by a civilized man or a savage. I certainly would not endeavor to prove that the Bible is uninspired by picking out its best passages. I admit that there are many good things in the Bible. The fact that there are good things in it does not prove its inspiration, because there are thousands of other books containing good things, and yet no one claims they are inspired. Shakespeare's works contain a thousand times more good things than the Bible, but no one claims he was an inspired man. It is also true that there are many bad things in Shakespeare—many passages which I wish he had never written. But I can excuse Shakespeare, because he did not rise absolutely above his time. That is to say, he was a man; that is to say, he was imperfect. If anybody claimed now that Shakespeare was actually inspired, that claim would be answered by pointing to certain weak or bad or vulgar passages in his works. But every Christian will say that it is a certain kind of blasphemy to impute vulgarity or weakness to God, as they are all obliged to defend the weak, the bad and the vulgar, so long as they insist upon the inspiration of the Bible. Now, I pursued the same course with the Bible that Mr. Beecher has pursued with me. Why did he want to pick out my bad things? Is it possible that he is a kind of vulture that sees only the carrion of another? After all, has he not pursued the same method with me that he blames me for pursuing in regard to the Bible? Of course he must pursue that method. He could not object to me and then point out passages that were not objectionable. If he found fault he had to find faults in order to sustain his ground. That is exactly what I have done with Scriptures—nothing more and nothing less. The reason I have thrown away the Bible is that in many places it is harsh, cruel, unjust, coarse, vulgar, atrocious, infamous. At the same time, I admit that it contains many passages of an excellent and splendid character —many good things, wise sayings, and many excellent and just laws.

But I would like to ask this: Suppose there were no passages in the Bible except those upholding slavery, polygamy and wars of extermination; would anybody then claim that it was the word of God? I would like to ask if there is a Christian in the world who would not be overjoyed to find that every one of these passages was an interpolation? I would also like to ask Mr. Beecher if he would not be greatly gratified to find that after God had written the Bible the Devil had got hold of it, and interpolated all these passages about slavery, polygamy, the slaughter of women and babes and the doctrine of eternal punishment? Suppose, as a matter of fact, the Devil did get hold of it; what part of the Bible would Mr. Beecher pick out as having been written by the Devil? And if he picks out these passages could not the Devil answer him by saying, "You, Mr. Beecher, are like a vulture, a kind of buzzard, flying through the tainted air of inspiration, and pouncing down upon the carrion. Why do you not fly like a dove, and why do you not have the innocent ignorance of the dove, so that you could light upon a carcass and imagine that you were surrounded by the perfume of violets?" The fact is that good things in a book do not prove that it is inspired, but the presence of bad things does prove that it is not.

Question. What was the real difficulty between you and Moses, Colonel, a man who has been dead for thousands of years?

Answer. We never had any difficulty. I have always taken pains to say that Moses had nothing to do with the Pentateuch. Those books, in my judgment, were written several centuries after Moses had become dust in his unknown sepulchre. No doubt Moses was quite a man in his day, if he ever existed at all. Some people say that Moses is exactly the same as "law-giver;" that is to say, as Legislature, that is to say as Congress. Imagine somebody in the future as regarding the Congress of the United States as one person! And then imagine that somebody endeavoring to prove that Congress was always consistent. But, whether Moses lived or not makes but little difference to me. I presume he filled the place and did the work that he was compelled to do, and although according to the account God had much to say to him with regard to the making of altars, tongs, snuffers and candlesticks, there is much left for nature still to tell. Thinking of Moses as a man, admitting that he was above his fellows, that he was in his day and generation a leader, and, in a certain narrow sense, a patriot, that he was the founder of the Jewish people; that he found them barbarians and endeavored to control them by thunder and lightning, and found it necessary to pretend that he was in partnership with the power governing the universe; that he took advantage of their ignorance and fear, just as politicians do now, and as theologians always will, still, I see no evidence that the man Moses was any nearer to God than his descendants, who are still warring against the Philistines in every civilized part of the globe. Moses was a believer in slavery, in polygamy, in wars of extermination, in religious persecution and intolerance and in almost everything that is now regarded with loathing, contempt and scorn. The Jehovah of whom he speaks violated, or commands the violation of at least nine of the Ten Commandments he gave. There is one thing, however, that can be said of Moses that cannot be said of any person who now insists that he was inspired, and that is, he was in advance of his time.

Question. What do you think of the Buckner Bill for the colonization of the negroes in Mexico?

Answer. Where does Mr. Buckner propose to colonize the white people, and what right has he to propose the colonization of six millions of people? Should we not have other bills to colonize the Germans, the Swedes, the Irish, and then, may be, another bill to drive the Chinese into the sea? Where do we get the right to say that the negroes must emigrate?

All such schemes will, in my judgment, prove utterly futile. Perhaps the history of the world does not give an instance of the emigration of six millions of people. Notwithstanding the treatment that Ireland has received from England, which may be designated as a crime of three hundred years, the Irish still love Ireland. All the despotism in the world will never crush out of the Irish heart the love of home—the adoration of the old sod. The negroes of the South have certainly suffered enough to drive them into other countries; but after all, they prefer to stay where they were born. They prefer to live where their ancestors were slaves, where fathers and mothers were sold and whipped; and I don't believe it will be possible to induce a majority of them to leave that land. Of course, thousands may leave, and in process of time millions may go, but I don't believe emigration will ever equal their natural increase. As the whites of the South become civilized the reason for going will be less and less.

I see no reason why the white and black men cannot live together in the same land, under the same flag. The beauty of liberty is you cannot have it unless you give it away, and the more you give away the more you have. I know that my liberty is secure only because others are free.

I am perfectly willing to live in a country with such men as Frederick Douglass and Senator Bruce. I have always preferred a good, clever black man to a mean white man, and I am of the opinion that I shall continue in that preference. Now, if we could only have a colonization bill that would get rid of all the rowdies, all the rascals and hypocrites, I would like to see it carried out, thought some people might insist that it would amount to a repudiation of the national debt and that hardly enough would be left to pay the interest. No, talk as we will, the colored people helped to save this Nation. They have been at all times and in all places the friends of our flag; a flag that never really protected them. And for my part, I am willing that they should stand forever beneath that flag, the equal in rights of all other people. Politically, if any black men are to be sent away, I want it understood that each one is to be accompanied by a Democrat, so that the balance of power, especially in New York, will not be disturbed.

Question. I notice that leading Republican newspapers are advising General Garfield to cut loose from the machine in politics; what do you regard as the machine?

Answer. All defeated candidates regard the persons who defeated them as constituting a machine, and always imagine that there is some wicked conspiracy at the bottom of the machine. Some of the recent reformers regard the people who take part in the early stages of a political campaign—who attend caucuses and primaries, who speak of politics to their neighbors, as members and parts of the machine, and regard only those as good and reliable American citizens who take no part whatever, simply reserving the right to grumble after the work has been done by others. Not much can be accomplished in politics without an organization, and the moment an organization is formed, and, you might say, just a little before, leading spirits will be developed. Certain men will take the lead, and the weaker men will in a short time, unless they get all the loaves and fishes, denounce the whole thing as a machine, and, to show how thoroughly and honestly they detest the machine in politics, will endeavor to organize a little machine themselves. General Garfield has been in politics for many years. He knows the principal men in both parties. He knows the men who have not only done something, but who are capable of doing something, and such men will not, in my opinion, be neglected. I do not believe that General Garfield will do any act calculated to divide the Republican party. No thoroughly great man carries personal prejudice into the administration of public affairs. Of course, thousands of people will be prophesying that this man is to be snubbed and another to be paid; but, in my judgment, after the 4th of March most people will say that General Garfield has used his power wisely and that he has neither sought nor shunned men simply because he wished to pay debts—either of love or hatred.

—Washington correspondent, Brooklyn Eagle, January 31, 1881.


Question. Now that a lull has come in politics, I thought I would come and see what is going on in the religious world?

Answer. Well, from what little I learn, there has not been much going on during the last year. There are five hundred and twenty- six Congregational Churches in Massachusetts, and two hundred of these churches have not received a new member for an entire year, and the others have scarcely held their own. In Illinois there are four hundred and eighty-three Presbyterian Churches, and they have now fewer members than they had in 1879, and of the four hundred and eighty-three, one hundred and eighty-three have not received a single new member for twelve months. A report has been made, under the auspices of the Pan-Presbyterian Council, to the effect that there are in the whole world about three millions of Presbyterians. This is about one-fifth of one per cent. of the inhabitants of the world. The probability is that of the three million nominal Presbyterians, not more than two or three hundred thousand actually believe the doctrine, and of the two or three hundred thousand, not more than five or six hundred have any true conception of what the doctrine is. As the Presbyterian Church has only been able to induce one-fifth of one per cent. of the people to even call themselves Presbyterians, about how long will it take, at this rate, to convert mankind? The fact is, there seems to be a general lull along the entire line, and just at present very little is being done by the orthodox people to keep their fellow-citizens out of hell.

Question. Do you really think that the orthodox people now believe in the old doctrine of eternal punishment, and that they really think there is a kind of hell that our ancestors so carefully described?

Answer. I am afraid that the old idea is dying out, and that many Christians are slowly giving up the consolations naturally springing from the old belief. Another terrible blow to the old infamy is the fact that in the revised New Testament the word Hades has been substituted. As nobody knows exactly what Hades means, it will not be quite so easy to frighten people at revivals by threatening them with something that they don't clearly understand. After this, when the impassioned orator cries out that all the unconverted will be sent to Hades, the poor sinners, instead of getting frightened, will begin to ask each other what and where that is. It will take many years of preaching to clothe that word in all the terrors and horrors, pains, and penalties and pangs of hell. Hades is a compromise. It is a concession to the philosophy of our day. It is a graceful acknowledgment to the growing spirit of investigation, that hell, after all, is a barbaric mistake. Hades is the death of revivals. It cannot be used in song. It won't rhyme with anything with the same force that hell does. It is altogether more shadowy than hot. It is not associated with brimstone and flame. It sounds somewhat indistinct, somewhat lonesome, a little desolate, but not altogether uncomfortable. For revival purposes, Hades is simply useless, and few conversions will be made in the old way under the revised Testament.

Question. Do you really think that the church is losing ground?

Answer. I am not, as you probably know, connected with any orthodox organization, and consequently have to rely upon them for my information. If they can be believed, the church is certainly in an extremely bad condition. I find that the Rev. Dr. Cuyler, only a few days ago, speaking of the religious condition of Brooklyn —and Brooklyn, you know, has been called the City of Churches— states that the great mass of that Christian city was out of Christ, and that more professing Christians went to the theatre than to the prayer meeting. This, certainly, from their standpoint, is a most terrible declaration. Brooklyn, you know, is one of the great religious centres of the world—a city in which nearly all the people are engaged either in delivering or in hearing sermons; a city filled with the editors of religious periodicals; a city of prayer and praise; and yet, while prayer meetings are free, the theatres, with the free list entirely suspended, catch more Christians than the churches; and this happens while all the pulpits thunder against the stage, and the stage remains silent as to the pulpit. At the same meeting in which the Rev. Dr. Cuyler made his astounding statements the Rev. Mr. Pentecost was the bearer of the happy news that four out of five persons living in the city of Brooklyn were going down to hell with no God and with no hope. If he had read the revised Testament he would have said "Hades," and the effect of the statement would have been entirely lost. If four-fifths of the people of that great city are destined to eternal pain, certainly we cannot depend upon churches for the salvation of the world. At the meeting of the Brooklyn pastors they were in doubt as to whether they should depend upon further meetings, or upon a day of fasting and prayer for the purpose of converting the city.

In my judgment, it would be much better to devise ways and means to keep a good many people from fasting in Brooklyn. If they had more meat, they could get along with less meeting. If fasting would save a city, there are always plenty of hungry folks even in that Christian town. The real trouble with the church of to-day is, that it is behind the intelligence of the people. Its doctrines no longer satisfy the brains of the nineteenth century; and if the church proposes to hold its power, it must lose its superstitions. The day of revivals is gone. Only the ignorant and unthinking can hereafter be impressed by hearing the orthodox creed. Fear has in it no reformatory power, and the more intelligent the world grows the more despicable and contemptible the doctrine of eternal misery will become. The tendency of the age is toward intellectual liberty, toward personal investigation. Authority is no longer taken for truth. People are beginning to find that all the great and good are not dead—that some good people are alive, and that the demonstrations of to-day are fully equal to the mistaken theories of the past.

Question. How are you getting along with Delaware?

Answer. First rate. You know I have been wondering where Comegys came from, and at last I have made the discovery. I was told the other day by a gentleman from Delaware that many years ago Colonel Hazelitt died; that Colonel Hazelitt was an old Revolutionary officer, and that when they were digging his grave they dug up Comegys. Back of that no one knows anything of his history. The only thing they know about him certainly, is, that he has never changed one of his views since he was found, and that he never will. I am inclined to think, however, that he lives in a community congenial to him. For instance, I saw in a paper the other day that within a radius of thirty miles around Georgetown, Delaware, there are about two hundred orphan and friendless children. These children, it seems, were indentured to Delaware farmers by the managers of orphan asylums and other public institutions in and about Philadelphia. It is stated in the paper, that:

"Many of these farmers are rough task-masters, and if a boy fails to perform the work of an adult, he is almost certain to be cruelly treated, half starved, and in the coldest weather wretchedly clad. If he does the work, his life is not likely to be much happier, for as a rule he will receive more kicks than candy. The result in either case is almost certain to be wrecked constitutions, dwarfed bodies, rounded shoulders, and limbs crippled or rendered useless by frost or rheumatism. The principal diet of these boys is corn pone. A few days ago, Constable W. H. Johnston went to the house of Reuben Taylor, and on entering the sitting room his attention was attracted by the moans of its only occupant, a little colored boy, who was lying on the hearth in front of the fireplace. The boy's head was covered with ashes from the fire, and he did not pay the slightest attention to the visitor, until Johnston asked what made him cry. Then the little fellow sat up and drawing on old rag off his foot said, 'Look there.' The sight that met Johnston's eye was horrible beyond description. The poor boy's feet were so horribly frozen that the flesh had dropped off the toes until the bones protruded. The flesh on the sides, bottoms, and tops of his feet was swollen until the skin cracked in many places, and the inflamed flesh was sloughing off in great flakes. The frost-bitten flesh extended to his knees, the joints of which were terribly inflamed. The right one had already begun suppurating. This poor little black boy, covered with nothing but a cotton shirt, drilling pants, a pair of nearly worn out brogans and a battered old hat, on the morning of December 30th, the coldest day of the season, when the mercury was seventeen degrees below zero, in the face of a driving snow storm, was sent half a mile from home to protect his master's unshucked corn from the depredations of marauding cows and crows. He remained standing around in the snow until four o'clock, then he drove the cows home, received a piece of cold corn pone, and was sent out in the snow again to chop stove wood till dark. Having no bed, he slept that night in front of the fireplace, with his frozen feet buried in the ashes. Dr. C. H. Richards found it necessary to cut off the boy's feet as far back as the ankle and the instep."

This was but one case in several. Personally, I have no doubt that Mr. Reuben Taylor entirely agrees with Chief Justice Comegys on the great question of blasphemy, and probably nothing would so gratify Mr. Reuben Taylor as to see some man in a Delaware jail for the crime of having expressed an honest thought. No wonder that in the State of Delaware the Christ of intellectual liberty has been crucified between the pillory and the whipping-post. Of course I know that there are thousands of most excellent people in that State—people who believe in intellectual liberty, and who only need a little help—and I am doing what I can in that direction —to repeal the laws that now disgrace the statute book of that little commonwealth. I have seen many people from that State lately who really wish that Colonel Hazelitt had never died.

Question. What has the press generally said with regard to the action of Judge Comegys? Do they, so far as you know, justify his charge?

Answer. A great many papers having articles upon the subject have been sent to me. A few of the religious papers seem to think that the Judge did the best he knew, and there is one secular paper called the Evening News, published at Chester, Pa., that thinks "that the rebuke from so high a source of authority will have a most excellent effect, and will check religious blasphemers from parading their immoral creeds before the people." The editor of this paper should at once emigrate to the State of Delaware, where he properly belongs. He is either a native of Delaware, or most of his subscribers are citizens of that country; or, it may be that he is a lineal descendant of some Hessian, who deserted during the Revolutionary war. Most of the newspapers in the United States are advocates of mental freedom. Probably nothing on earth has been so potent for good as an untrammeled, fearless press. Among the papers of importance there is not a solitary exception. No leading journal in the United States can be found upon the side of intellectual slavery. Of course, a few rural sheets edited by gentlemen, as Mr. Greeley would say, "whom God in his inscrutable wisdom had allowed to exist," may be found upon the other side, and may be small enough, weak enough and mean enough to pander to the lowest and basest prejudices of their most ignorant subscribers. These editors disgrace their profession and exert about the same influence upon the heads as upon the pockets of their subscribers —that is to say, they get little and give less.

Question. Do you not think after all, the people who are in favor of having you arrested for blasphemy, are acting in accordance with the real spirit of the Old and New Testaments?

Answer. Of course, they act in exact accordance with many of the commands in the Old Testament, and in accordance with several passages in the New. At the same time, it may be said that they violate passages in both. If the Old Testament is true, and if it is the inspired word of God, of course, an Infidel ought not be allowed to live; and if the New Testament is true, an unbeliever should not be permitted to speak. There are many passages, though, in the New Testament, that should protect even an Infidel. Among them is this: "Do unto others as ye would that others should do unto you." But that is a passage that has probably had as little effect upon the church as any other in the Bible. So far as I am concerned, I am willing to adopt that passage, and I am willing to extend to every other human being every right that I claim for myself. If the churches would act upon this principle, if they would say—every soul, every mind, may think and investigate for itself; and around all, and over all, shall be thrown the sacred shield of liberty, I should be on their side.

Question. How do you stand with the clergymen, and what is their opinion of you and of your views?

Answer. Most of them envy me; envy my independence; envy my success; think that I ought to starve; that the people should not hear me; say that I do what I do for money, for popularity; that I am actuated by hatred of all that is good and tender and holy in human nature; think that I wish to tear down the churches, destroy all morality and goodness, and usher in the reign of crime and chaos. They know that shepherds are unnecessary in the absence of wolves, and it is to their interest to convince their sheep that they, the sheep, need protection. This they are willing to give them for half the wool. No doubt, most of these minsters are honest, and are doing what they consider their duty. Be this as it may, they feel the power slipping from their hands. They know that the idea is slowly growing that they are not absolutely necessary for the protection of society. They know that the intellectual world cares little for what they say, and that the great tide of human progress flows on careless of their help or hindrance. So long as they insist upon the inspiration of the Bible, they are compelled to take the ground that slavery was once a divine institution; they are forced to defend cruelties that would shock the heart of a savage, and besides, they are bound to teach the eternal horror of everlasting punishment.

They poison the minds of children; they deform the brain and pollute the imagination by teaching the frightful and infamous dogma of endless misery. Even the laws of Delaware shock the enlightened public of to-day. In that State they simply fine and imprison a man for expressing his honest thoughts; and yet, if the churches are right, God will damn a man forever for the same offence. The brain and heart of our time cannot be satisfied with the ancient creeds. The Bible must be revised again. Most of the creeds must be blotted out. Humanity must take the place of theology. Intellectual liberty must stand in every pulpit. There must be freedom in all the pews, and every human soul must have the right to express its honest thought.

—Washington correspondent, Brooklyn Eagle, March 19, 1881.


[* Rev. Isaac J. Lansing of Meriden, Conn., recently denounced Col. Robert G. Ingersoll from the pulpit of the Meriden Methodist Church, and had the Opera House closed against him. This led a Union reporter to show Colonel Ingersoll what Mr. Lansing had said and to interrogate him with the following result.]

Question. Did you favor the sending of obscene matter through the mails as alleged by the Rev. Mr. Lansing?

Answer. Of course not, and no honest man ever thought that I did. This charge is too malicious and silly to be answered. Mr. Lansing knows better. He has made this charge many times and he will make it again.

Question. Is it a fact that there are thousands of clergymen in the country whom you would fear to meet in fair debate?

Answer. No; the fact is I would like to meet them all in one. The pulpit is not burdened with genius. There a few great men engaged in preaching, but they are not orthodox. I cannot conceive that a Freethinker has anything to fear from the pulpit, except misrepresentation. Of course, there are thousands of ministers too small to discuss with—ministers who stand for nothing in the church—and with such clergymen I cannot afford to discuss anything. If the Presbyterians, or the Congregationalists, or the Methodists would select some man, and endorse him as their champion, I would like to meet him in debate. Such a man I will pay to discuss with me. I will give him most excellent wages, and pay all the expenses at the discussion besides. There is but one safe course for the ministers—they must assert. They must declare. They must swear to it and stick to it, but they must not try to reason.

Question. You have never seen Rev. Mr. Lansing. To the people of Meriden and thereabouts he is well-known. Judging from what has been told you of his utterances and actions, what kind of a man would you take him to be?

Answer. I would take him to be a Christian. He talks like one, and he acts like one. If Christianity is right, Lansing is right. If salvation depends upon belief, and if unbelievers are to be eternally damned, then an Infidel has no right to speak. He should not be allowed to murder the souls of his fellow-men. Lansing does the best he knows how. He thinks that God hates an unbeliever, and he tries to act like God. Lansing knows that he must have the right to slander a man whom God is to eternally damn.

Question. Mr. Lansing speaks of you as a wolf coming with fangs sharpened by three hundred dollars a night to tear the lambs of his flock. What do you say to that?

Answer. All I have to say is, that I often get three times that amount, and sometimes much more. I guess his lambs can take care of themselves. I am not very fond of mutton anyway. Such talk Mr. Lansing ought to be ashamed of. The idea that he is a shepherd —that he is on guard—is simply preposterous. He has few sheep in his congregation that know as little on the wolf question as he does. He ought to know that his sheep support him—his sheep protect him; and without the sheep poor Lansing would be devoured by the wolves himself.

Question. Shall you sue the Opera House management for breach of contract?

Answer. I guess not; but I may pay Lansing something for advertising my lecture. I suppose Mr. Wilcox (who controls the Opera House) did what he thought was right. I hear he is a good man. He probably got a little frightened and began to think about the day of judgment. He could not help it, and I cannot help laughing at him.

Question. Those in Meriden who most strongly oppose you are radical Republicans. Is it not a fact that you possess the confidence and friendship of some of the most respected leaders of that party?

Answer. I think that all the respectable ones are friends of mine. I am a Republican because I believe in the liberty of the body, and I am an Infidel because I believe in the liberty of the mind. There is no need of freeing cages. Let us free the birds. If Mr. Lansing knew me, he would be a great friend. He would probably annoy me by the frequency and length of his visits.

Question. During the recent presidential campaign did any clergymen denounce you for your teachings, that you are aware of?

Answer. Some did, but they would not if they had been running for office on the Republican ticket.

Question. What is most needed in our public men?

Answer. Hearts and brains.

Question. Would people be any more moral solely because of a disbelief in orthodox teaching and in the Bible as an inspired book, in your opinion?

Answer. Yes; if a man really believes that God once upheld slavery; that he commanded soldiers to kill women and babes; that he believed in polygamy; that he persecuted for opinion's sake; that he will punish forever, and that he hates an unbeliever, the effect in my judgment will be bad. It always has been bad. This belief built the dungeons of the Inquisition. This belief made the Puritan murder the Quaker, and this belief has raised the devil with Mr. Lansing.

Question. Do you believe there will ever be a millennium, and if so how will it come about?

Answer. It will probably start in Meriden, as I have been informed that Lansing is going to leave.

Question. Is there anything else bearing upon the question at issue or that would make good reading, that I have forgotten, that you would like to say?

Answer. Yes. Good-bye.

The Sunday Union, New Haven, Conn., April 10, 1881.


Question. What have you to say about the attack of Dr. Buckley on you, and your lecture?

Answer. I never heard of Dr. Buckley until after I had lectured in Brooklyn. He seems to think that it was extremely ill bred in me to deliver a lecture on the "Liberty of Man, Woman and Child," during Lent. Lent is just as good as any other part of the year, and no part can be too good to do good. It was not a part of my object to hurt the feelings of the Episcopalians and Catholics. If they think that there is some subtle relation between hunger and heaven, or that faith depends upon, or is strengthened by famine, or that veal, during Lent, is the enemy of virtue, or that beef breeds blasphemy, while fish feeds faith—of course, all this is nothing to me. They have a right to say that vice depends upon victuals, sanctity on soup, religion on rice and chastity on cheese, but they have no right to say that a lecture on liberty is an insult to them because they are hungry. I suppose that Lent was instituted in memory of the Savior's fast. At one time it was supposed that only a divine being could live forty days without food. This supposition has been overthrown.

It has been demonstrated by Dr. Tanner to be utterly without foundation. What possible good did it do the world for Christ to go without food for forty days? Why should we follow such an example? As a rule, hungry people are cross, contrary, obstinate, peevish and unpleasant. A good dinner puts a man at peace with all the world—makes him generous, good natured and happy. He feels like kissing his wife and children. The future looks bright. He wants to help the needy. The good in him predominates, and he wonders that any man was ever stingy or cruel. Your good cook is a civilizer, and without good food, well prepared, intellectual progress is simply impossible. Most of the orthodox creeds were born of bad cooking. Bad food produced dyspepsia, and dyspepsia produced Calvinism, and Calvinism is the cancer of Christianity. Oatmeal is responsible for the worst features of Scotch Presbyterianism. Half cooked beans account for the religion of the Puritans. Fried bacon and saleratus biscuit underlie the doctrine of State Rights. Lent is a mistake, fasting is a blunder, and bad cooking is a crime.

Question. It is stated that you went to Brooklyn while Beecher and Talmage were holding revivals, and that you did so for the purpose of breaking them up. How is this?

Answer. I had not the slightest idea of interfering with the revivals. They amounted to nothing. They were not alive enough to be killed. Surely one lecture could not destroy two revivals. Still, I think that if all the persons engaged in the revivals had spent the same length of time in cleaning the streets, the good result would have been more apparent. The truth is, that the old way of converting people will have to be abandoned. The Americans are getting hard to scare, and a revival without the "scare" is scarcely worth holding. Such maniacs as Hammond and the "Boy Preacher" fill asylums and terrify children. After saying what he has about hell, Mr. Beecher ought to know that he is not the man to conduct a revival. A revival sermon with hell left out—with the brimstone gone—with the worm that never dies, dead, and the Devil absent—is the broadest farce. Mr. Talmage believes in the ancient way. With him hell is a burning reality. He can hear the shrieks and groans. He is of that order of mind that rejoices in these things. If he could only convince others, he would be a great revivalist. He cannot terrify, he astonishes. He is the clown of the horrible—one of Jehovah's jesters. I am not responsible for the revival failure in Brooklyn. I wish I were. I would have the happiness of knowing that I had been instrumental in preserving the sanity of my fellow-men.

Question. How do you account for these attacks?

Answer. It was not so much what I said that excited the wrath of the reverend gentlemen as the fact that I had a great house. They contrasted their failure with my success. The fact is, the people are getting tired of the old ideas. They are beginning to think for themselves. Eternal punishment seems to them like eternal revenge. They see that Christ could not atone for the sins of others; that belief ought not to be rewarded and honest doubt punished forever; that good deeds are better than bad creeds, and that liberty is the rightful heritage of every soul.

Question. Were you an admirer of Lord Beaconsfield?

Answer. In some respects. He was on our side during the war, and gave it as his opinion that the Union would be preserved. Mr. Gladstone congratulated Jefferson Davis on having founded a new nation. I shall never forget Beaconsfield for his kindness, nor Gladstone for his malice. Beaconsfield was an intellectual gymnast, a political athlete, one of the most adroit men in the world. He had the persistence of his race. In spite of the prejudices of eighteen hundred years, he rose to the highest position that can be occupied by a citizen. During his administration England again became a Continental power and played her game of European chess. I have never regarded Beaconsfield as a man controlled by principle, or by his heart. He was strictly a politician. He always acted as though he thought the clubs were looking at him. He knew all the arts belonging to his trade. He would have succeeded anywhere, if by "succeeding" is meant the attainment of position and power. But after all, such men are splendid failures. They give themselves and others a great deal of trouble—they wear the tinsel crown of temporary success and then fade from public view. They astonish the pit, they gain the applause of the galleries, but when the curtain falls there is nothing left to benefit mankind. Beaconsfield held convictions somewhat in contempt. He had the imagination of the East united with the ambition of an Englishman. With him, to succeed was to have done right.

Question. What do you think of him as an author?

Answer. Most of his characters are like himself—puppets moved by the string of self-interest. The men are adroit, the women mostly heartless. They catch each other with false bait. They have great worldly wisdom. Their virtue and vice are mechanical. They have hearts like clocks—filled with wheels and springs. The author winds them up. In his novels Disraeli allows us to enter the greenroom of his heart. We see the ropes, the pulleys and the old masks. In all things, in politics and in literature, he was cold, cunning, accurate, able and successful. His books will, in a little while, follow their author to their grave. After all, the good will live longest.

—Washington correspondent, Brooklyn Eagle, April 24, 1881.


[* Ever since Colonel Ingersoll began the delivery of his lecture called The Great Infidels, the ministers of the country have made him the subject of special attack. One week ago last Sunday the majority of the leading ministers in New York made replies to Ingersoll's latest lecture. What he has to say to these replies will be found in a report of an interview with Colonel Ingersoll.

No man is harder to pin down for a long talk than the Colonel. He is so beset with visitors and eager office seekers anxious for help, that he can hardly find five minutes unoccupied during an entire day. Through the shelter of a private room and the guardianship of a stout colored servant, the Colonel was able to escape the crowd of seekers after his personal charity long enough to give some time to answer some of the ministerial arguments advanced against him in New York.]

Question. Have you seen the attacks made upon you by certain ministers of New York, published in the Herald last Sunday?

Answer. Yes, I read, or heard read, what was in Monday's Herald. I do not know that you could hardly call them attacks. They are substantially a repetition of what the pulpit has been saying for a great many hundred years, and what the pulpit will say just so long as men are paid for suppressing truth and for defending superstition. One of these gentlemen tells the lambs of his flock that three thousand men and a few women—probably with quite an emphasis on the word "Few"—gave one dollar each to hear their Maker cursed and their Savior ridiculed. Probably nothing is so hard for the average preacher to bear as the fact that people are not only willing to hear the other side, but absolutely anxious to pay for it. The dollar that these people paid hurt their feelings vastly more than what was said after they were in. Of course, it is a frightful commentary on the average intellect of the pulpit that a minister cannot get so large an audience when he preaches for nothing, as an Infidel can draw at a dollar a head. If I depended upon a contribution box, or upon passing a saucer that would come back to the stage enriched with a few five cent pieces, eight or ten dimes, and a lonesome quarter, these gentlemen would, in all probability, imagine Infidelity was not to be feared.

The churches were all open on that Sunday, and all could go who desired. Yet they were not full, and the pews were nearly as empty of people as the pulpit of ideas. The truth is, the story is growing old, the ideas somewhat moss-covered, and everything has a wrinkled and withered appearance. This gentleman says that these people went to hear their Maker cursed and their Savior ridiculed. Is it possible that in a city where so many steeples pierce the air, and hundreds of sermons are preached every Sunday, there are three thousand men, and a few women, so anxious to hear "their Maker cursed and their Savior ridiculed" that they are willing to pay a dollar each? The gentleman knew that nobody cursed anybody's Maker. He knew that the statement was utterly false and without the slightest foundation. He also knew that nobody had ridiculed the Savior of anybody, but, on the contrary, that I had paid a greater tribute to the character of Jesus Christ than any minister in New York has the capacity to do. Certainly it is not cursing the Maker of anybody to say that the God described in the Old Testament is not the real God. Certainly it is not cursing God to declare that the real God never sanctioned slavery or polygamy, or commanded wars of extermination, or told a husband to separate from his wife if she differed with him in religion. The people who say these things of God—if there is any God at all—do what little there is in their power, unwittingly of course, to destroy his reputation. But I have done something to rescue the reputation of the Deity from the slanders of the pulpit. If there is any God, I expect to find myself credited on the heavenly books for my defence of him. I did say that our civilization is due not to piety, but to Infidelity. I did say that every great reformer had been denounced as an Infidel in his day and generation. I did say that Christ was an Infidel, and that he was treated in his day very much as the orthodox preachers treat an honest man now. I did say that he was tried for blasphemy and crucified by bigots. I did say that he hated and despised the church of his time, and that he denounced the most pious people of Jerusalem as thieves and vipers. And I suggested that should he come again he might have occasion to repeat the remarks that he then made. At the same time I admitted that there are thousands and thousands of Christians who are exceedingly good people. I never did pretend that the fact that a man was a Christian even tended to show that he was a bad man. Neither have I ever insisted that the fact that a man is an Infidel even tends to show what, in other respects, his character is. But I always have said, and I always expect to say, that a Christian who does not believe in absolute intellectual liberty is a curse to mankind, and that an Infidel who does believe in absolute intellectual liberty is a blessing to this world. We cannot expect all Infidels to be good, nor all Christians to be bad, and we might make some mistakes even if we selected these people ourselves. It is admitted by the Christians that Christ made a great mistake when he selected Judas. This was a mistake of over eight per cent.

Chaplain Newman takes pains to compare some great Christians with some great Infidels. He compares Washington with Julian, and insists, I suppose, that Washington was a great Christian. Certainly he is not very familiar with the history of Washington, or he never would claim that he was particularly distinguished in his day for what is generally known as vital piety. That he went through the ordinary forms of Christianity nobody disputes. That he listened to sermons without paying any particular attention to them, no one will deny. Julian, of course, was somewhat prejudiced against Christianity, but that he was one of the greatest men of antiquity no one acquainted with the history of Rome can honestly dispute. When he was made emperor he found at the palace hundreds of gentlemen who acted as barbers, hair-combers, and brushers for the emperor. He dismissed them all, remarking that he was able to wash himself. These dismissed office-holders started the story that he was dirty in his habits, and a minister of the nineteenth century was found silly enough to believe the story. Another thing that probably got him into disrepute in that day, he had no private chaplains. As a matter of fact, Julian was forced to pretend that he was a Christian in order to save his life. The Christians of that day were of such a loving nature that any man who differed with them was forced to either fall a victim to their ferocity or seek safety in subterfuge. The real crime that Julian committed, and the only one that has burned itself into the very heart and conscience of the Christian world, is, that he transferred the revenues of the Christian churches to heathen priests. Whoever stands between a priest and his salary will find that he has committed the unpardonable sin commonly known as the sin against the Holy Ghost.

This gentleman also compares Luther with Voltaire. If he will read the life of Luther by Lord Brougham, he will find that in his ordinary conversation he was exceedingly low and vulgar, and that no respectable English publisher could be found who would soil paper with the translation. If he will take the pains to read an essay by Macaulay, he will find that twenty years after the death of Luther there were more Catholics than when he was born. And that twenty years after the death of Voltaire there were millions less than when he was born. If he will take just a few moments to think, he will find that the last victory of Protestantism was in Holland; that there has never been one since, and will never be another. If he would really like to think, and enjoy for a few moments the luxury of having an idea, let him ponder for a little while over the instructive fact that languages having their root in the Latin have generally been spoken in Catholic countries, and that those languages having their root in the ancient German are now mostly spoken by people of Protestant proclivities. It may occur to him, after thinking of this a while, that there is something deeper in the question than he has as yet perceived. Luther's last victory, as I said before, was in Holland; but the victory of Voltaire goes on from day to day. Protestantism is not holding its own with Catholicism, even in the United States. I saw the other day the statistics, I believe, of the city of Chicago, showing that, while the city had increased two or three hundred per cent., Protestantism had lagged behind at the rate of twelve per cent. I am willing for one, to have the whole question depend upon a comparison of the worth and work of Voltaire and Luther. It may be, too, that the gentleman forgot to tell us that Luther himself gave consent to a person high in office to have two wives, but prudently suggested to him that he had better keep it as still as possible. Luther was, also, a believer in a personal Devil. He thought that deformed children had been begotten by an evil spirit. On one occasion he told a mother that, in his judgment, she had better drown her child; that he had no doubt that the Devil was its father. This same Luther made this observation: "Universal toleration is universal error, and universal error is universal hell." From this you will see that he was an exceedingly good man, but mistaken upon many questions. So, too, he laughed at the Copernican system, and wanted to know if those fool astronomers could undo the work of God. He probably knew as little about science as the reverend gentleman does about history.

Question. Does he compare any other Infidels with Christians?

Answer. Oh, yes; he compares Lord Bacon with Diderot. I have never claimed that Diderot was a saint. I have simply insisted that he was a great man; that he was grand enough to say that "incredulity is the beginning of philosophy;" that he had sense enough to know that the God described by the Catholics and Protestants of his day was simply an impossible monster; and that he also had the brain to see that the little selfish heaven occupied by a few monks and nuns and idiots they had fleeced, was hardly worth going to; in other words, that he was a man of common sense, greatly in advance of his time, and that he did what he could to increase the sum of human enjoyment to the end that there might be more happiness in this world.

The gentleman compares him with Lord Bacon, and yet, if he will read the trials of that day—I think in the year 1620—he will find that the Christian Lord Bacon, the pious Lord Bacon, was charged with receiving pay for his opinions, and, in some instances, pay from both sides; that the Christian Lord Bacon, at first upon his honor as a Christian lord, denied the whole business; that afterward the Christian Lord Bacon, upon his honor as a Christian lord, admitted the truth of the whole business, and that, therefore, the Christian Lord Bacon was convicted and sentenced to pay a fine of forty thousand pounds, and rendered infamous and incapable of holding any office. Now, understand me, I do not think Bacon took bribes because he was a Christian, because there have been many Christian judges perfectly honest; but, if the statement of the reverend gentlemen of New York is true, his being a Christian did not prevent his taking bribes. And right here allow me to thank the gentleman with all my heart for having spoken of Lord Bacon in this connection. I have always admired the genius of Bacon, and have always thought of his fall with an aching heart, and would not now have spoken of his crime had not his character been flung in my face by a gentleman who asks his God to kill me for having expressed my honest thought.

The same gentleman compares Newton with Spinoza. In the first place, there is no ground of parallel. Newton was a very great man and a very justly celebrated mathematician. As a matter of fact, he is not celebrated for having discovered the law of gravitation. That was known for thousands of years before he was born; and if the reverend gentleman would read a little more he would find that Newton's discovery was not that there is such a law as gravitation, but that bodies attract each other "with a force proportional directly to the quantity of matter they contain, and inversely to the squares of their distances." I do not think he made the discoveries on account of his Christianity. Laplace was certainly in many respects as great a mathematician and astronomer, but he was not a Christian.

Descartes was certainly not much inferior to Newton as a mathematician, and thousands insist that he was his superior; yet he was not a Christian. Euclid, if I remember right, was not a Christian, and yet he had quite a turn for mathematics. As a matter of fact, Christianity got its idea of algebra from the Mohammedans, and, without algebra, astronomical knowledge of to-day would have been impossible. Christianity did not even invent figures. We got those from the Arabs. The very word "algebra" is Arabic. The decimal system, I believe, however, was due to a German, but whether he was a Christian or not, I do not know.

We find that the Chinese calculated eclipses long before Christ was born; and, exactness being the rule at that time, there is an account of two astronomers having been beheaded for failing to tell the coming of an eclipse to the minute; yet they were not Christians. There is another fact connected with Newton, and that is that he wrote a commentary on the Book of Revelation. The probability is that a sillier commentary was never written. It was so perfectly absurd and laughable that some one—I believe it was Voltaire—said that while Newton had excited the envy of the intellectual world by his mathematical accomplishments, it had gotten even with him the moment his commentaries were published. Spinoza was not a mathematician, particularly. He was a metaphysician, an honest thinker, whose influence is felt, and will be felt so long as these great questions have the slightest interest for the human brain.

He also compares Chalmers with Hume. Chalmers gained his notoriety from preaching what are known as the astronomical sermons, and, I suppose, was quite a preacher in his day.

But Hume was a thinker, and his works will live for ages after Mr. Chalmers' sermons will have been forgotten. Mr. Chalmers has never been prominent enough to have been well known by many people. He may have been an exceedingly good man, and derived, during his life, great consolation from a belief in the damnation of infants.

Mr. Newman also compares Wesley with Thomas Paine. When Thomas Paine was in favor of human liberty, Wesley was against it. Thomas Paine wrote a pamphlet called "Common Sense," urging the colonies to separate themselves from Great Britain. Wesley wrote a treatise on the other side. He was the enemy of human liberty; and if his advice could have been followed we would have been the colonies of Great Britain still. We never would have had a President in need of a private chaplain. Mr. Wesley had not a scientific mind. He preached a sermon once on the cause and cure of earthquakes, taking the ground that earthquakes were caused by sins, and that the only way to stop them was to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. He also laid down some excellent rules for rearing children, that is, from a Methodist standpoint. His rules amounted to about this:

  First. Never give them what they want.
  Second. Never give them what you intend to give them, at the time
    they want it.
  Third. Break their wills at the earliest possible moment.

Mr. Wesley made every family an inquisition, every father and mother inquisitors, and all the children helpless victims. One of his homes would give an exceedingly vivid idea of hell. At the same time, Mr. Wesley was a believer in witches and wizards, and knew all about the Devil. At his request God performed many miracles. On several occasions he cured his horse of lameness. On others, dissipated Mr. Wesley's headaches. Now and then he put off rain on account of a camp meeting, and at other times stopped the wind blowing at the special request of Mr. Wesley. I have no doubt that Mr. Wesley was honest in all this,—just as honest as he was mistaken. And I also admit that he was the founder of a church that does extremely well in new countries, and that thousands of Methodists have been exceedingly good men. But I deny that he ever did anything for human liberty. While Mr. Wesley was fighting the Devil and giving his experience with witches and wizards, Thomas Paine helped to found a free nation, helped to enrich the air with another flag. Wesley was right on one thing, though. He was opposed to slavery, and, I believe, called it the sum of all villainies. I have always been obliged to him for that. I do not think he said it because he was a Methodist; but Methodism, as he understood it, did not prevent his saying it, and Methodism as others understood it, did not prevent men from being slaveholders, did not prevent them from selling babes from mothers, and in the name of God beating the naked back of toil. I think, on the whole, Paine did more for the world than Mr. Wesley. The difference between an average Methodist and an average Episcopalian is not worth quarreling about. But the difference between a man who believes in despotism and one who believes in liberty is almost infinite. Wesley changed Episcopalians into Methodists; Paine turned lickspittles into men. Let it be understood, once for all, that I have never claimed that Paine was perfect. I was very glad that the reverend gentleman admitted that he was a patriot and the foe of tyrants; that he sympathized with the oppressed, and befriended the helpless; that he favored religious toleration, and that he weakened the power of the Catholic Church. I am glad that he made these admissions. Whenever it can be truthfully said of a man that he loved his country, hated tyranny, sympathized with the oppressed, and befriended the helpless, nothing more is necessary. If God can afford to damn such a man, such a man can afford to be damned. While Paine was the foe of tyrants, Christians were the tyrants. When he sympathized with the oppressed, the oppressed were the victims of Christians. When he befriended the helpless, the helpless were the victims of Christians. Paine never founded an inquisition; never tortured a human being; never hoped that anybody's tongue would be paralyzed, and was always opposed to private chaplains.

It might be well for the reverend gentleman to continue his comparisons, and find eminent Christians to put, for instance, along with Humboldt, the Shakespeare of science; somebody by the side of Darwin, as a naturalist; some gentleman in England to stand with Tyndall, or Huxley; some Christian German to stand with Haeckel and Helmholtz. May be he knows some Christian statesman that he would compare with Gambetta. I would advise him to continue his parallels.

Question. What have you to say of the Rev. Dr. Fulton?

Answer. The Rev. Dr. Fulton is a great friend of mine. I am extremely sorry to find that he still believes in a personal Devil, and I greatly regret that he imagines that this Devil has so much power that he can take possession of a human being and deprive God of their services. It is in sorrow and not in anger, that I find that he still believes in this ancient superstition. I also regret that he imagines that I am leading young men to eternal ruin. It occurs to me that if there is an infinite God, he ought not to allow anybody to lead young men to eternal ruin. If anything I have said, or am going to say, has a tendency to lead young men to eternal ruin, I hope that if there is a God with the power to prevent me, that he will use it. Dr. Fulton admits that in politics I am on the right side. I presume he makes this concession because he is a Republican. I am in favor of universal education, of absolute intellectual liberty. I am in favor, also, of equal rights to all. As I have said before we have spent millions and millions of dollars and rivers of blood to free the bodies of men; in other words, we have been freeing the cages. My proposition now is to give a little liberty to the birds. I am not willing to stop where a man can simply reap the fruit of his hand. I wish him, also, to enjoy the liberty of his brain. I am not against any truth in the New Testament. I did say that I objected to religion because it made enemies and not friends. The Rev. Dr. says that is one reason why he likes religion. Dr. Fulton tells me that the Bible is the gift of God to man. He also tells me that the Bible is true, and that God is its author. If the Bible is true and God is its author, then God was in favor of slavery four thousand years ago. He was also in favor of polygamy and religious intolerance. In other words, four thousand years ago he occupied the exact position the Devil is supposed to occupy now. If the Bible teaches anything it teaches man to enslave his brother, that is to say, if his brother is a heathen. The God of the Bible always hated heathens. Dr. Fulton also says that the Bible is the basis of all law. Yet, if the Legislature of New York would re-enact next winter the Mosaic code, the members might consider themselves lucky if they were not hung upon their return home. Probably Dr. Fulton thinks that had it not been for the Ten Commandments, nobody would ever have thought that stealing was wrong. I have always had an idea that men objected to stealing because the industrious did not wish to support the idle; and I have a notion that there has always been a law against murder, because a large majority of people have always objected to being murdered. If he will read his Old Testament with care, he will find that God violated most of his own commandments—all except that "Thou shalt worship no other God before me," and, may be, the commandment against work on the Sabbath day. With these two exceptions I am satisfied that God himself violated all the rest. He told his chosen people to rob the Gentiles; that violated the commandment against stealing. He said himself that he had sent out lying spirits; that certainly was a violation of another commandment. He ordered soldiers to kill men, women and babes; that was a violation of another. He also told them to divide the maidens among the soldiers; that was a substantial violation of another. One of the commandments was that you should not covet your neighbor's property. In that commandment you will find that a man's wife is put on an equality with his ox. Yet his chosen people were allowed not only to covet the property of the Gentiles, but to take it. If Dr. Fulton will read a little more, he will find that all the good laws in the Decalogue had been in force in Egypt a century before Moses was born. He will find that like laws and many better ones were in force in India and China, long before Moses knew what a bulrush was. If he will think a little while, he will find that one of the Ten Commandments, the one on the subject of graven images, was bad. The result of that was that Palestine never produced a painter, or a sculptor, and that no Jew became famous in art until long after the destruction of Jerusalem. A commandment that robs a people of painting and statuary is not a good one. The idea of the Bible being the basis of law is almost too silly to be seriously refuted. I admit that I did say that Shakespeare was the greatest man who ever lived; and Dr. Fulton says in regard to this statement, "What foolishness!" He then proceeds to insult his audience by telling them that while many of them have copies of Shakespeare's works in their houses, they have not read twenty pages of them. This fact may account for their attending his church and being satisfied with that sermon. I do not believe to-day that Shakespeare is more influential than the Bible, but what influence Shakespeare has, is for good. No man can read it without having his intellectual wealth increased. When you read it, it is not necessary to throw away your reason. Neither will you be damned if you do not understand it. It is a book that appeals to everything in the human brain. In that book can be found the wisdom of all ages. Long after the Bible has passed out of existence, the name of Shakespeare will lead the intellectual roster of the world. Dr. Fulton says there is not one work in the Bible that teaches that slavery or polygamy is right. He also states that I know it. If language has meaning—if words have sense, or the power to convey thought,—what did God mean when he told the Israelites to buy of the heathen round about, and that the heathen should be their bondmen and bondmaids forever?

What did God mean when he said, If a man strike his servant so he dies, he should not be punished, because his servant was his money? Passages like these can be quoted beyond the space that any paper is willing to give. Yet the Rev. Dr. Fulton denies that the Old Testament upholds slavery. I would like to ask him if the Old Testament is in favor of religious toleration? If God wrote the Old Testament and afterward came upon the earth as Jesus Christ, and taught a new religion, and the Jews crucified him, was this not in accordance with his own law, and was he not, after all, the victim of himself?

Question. What about the other ministers?

Answer. Well, I see in the Herald that some ten have said that they would reply to me. I have selected the two, simply because they came first. I think they are about as poor as any; and you know it is natural to attack those who are the easiest answered. All these ministers are now acting as my agents, and are doing me all the good they can by saying all the bad things about me they can think of. They imagine that their congregations have not grown, and they talk to them as though they were living in the seventeenth instead of the nineteenth century. The truth is, the pews are beyond the pulpit, and the modern sheep are now protecting the shepherds.

Question. Have you noticed a great change in public sentiment in the last three or four years?

Answer. Yes, I think there are ten times as many Infidels to- day as there were ten years ago. I am amazed at the great change that has taken place in public opinion. The churches are not getting along well. There are hundreds and hundreds who have not had a new member in a year. The young men are not satisfied with the old ideas. They find that the church, after all, is opposed to learning; that it is the enemy of progress; that it says to every young man, "Go slow. Don't allow your knowledge to puff you up. Recollect that reason is a dangerous thing. You had better be a little ignorant here for the sake of being an angel hereafter, than quite a smart young man and get damned at last." The church warns them against Humboldt and Darwin, and tells them how much nobler it is to come from mud than from monkeys; that they were made from mud. Every college professor is afraid to tell what he thinks, and every student detects the cowardice. The result is that the young men have lost confidence in the creeds of the day and propose to do a little thinking for themselves. They still have a kind of tender pity for the old folks, and pretend to believe some things they do not, rather than hurt grandmother's feelings. In the presence of the preachers they talk about the weather or other harmless subjects, for fear of bruising the spirit of their pastor. Every minister likes to consider himself as a brave shepherd leading the lambs through the green pastures and defending them at night from Infidel wolves. All this he does for a certain share of the wool. Others regard the church as a kind of social organization, as a good way to get into society. They wish to attend sociables, drink tea, and contribute for the conversion of the heathen. It is always so pleasant to think that there is somebody worse than you are, whose reformation you can help pay for. I find, too, that the young women are getting tired of the old doctrines, and that everywhere, all over this country, the power of the pulpit wanes and weakens. I find in my lectures that the applause is just in proportion to the radicalism of the thought expressed. Our war was a great educator, when the whole people of the North rose up grandly in favor of human liberty. For many years the great question of human rights was discussed from every stump. Every paper was filled with splendid sentiments. An application of those doctrines—doctrines born in war—will forever do away with the bondage of superstition. When man has been free in body for a little time, he will become free in mind, and the man who says, "I have a equal right with other men to work and reap the reward of my labor," will say, "I have, also, an equal right to think and reap the reward of my thought."

In old times there was a great difference between a clergyman and a layman. The clergyman was educated; the peasant was ignorant. The tables have been turned. The thought of the world is with the laymen. They are the intellectual pioneers, the mental leaders, and the ministers are following on behind, predicting failure and disaster, sighing for the good old times when their word ended discussion. There is another good thing, and that is the revision of the Bible. Hundreds of passages have been found to be interpolations, and future revisers will find hundreds more. The foundation crumbles. That book, called the basis of all law and civilization, has to be civilized itself. We have outgrown it. Our laws are better; our institutions grander; our objects and aims nobler and higher.

Question. Do many people write to you upon this subject; and what spirit do they manifest?

Answer. Yes, I get a great many anonymous letters—some letters in which God is asked to strike me dead, others of an exceedingly insulting character, others almost idiotic, others exceedingly malicious, and others insane, others written in an exceedingly good spirit, winding up with the information that I must certainly be damned. Others express wonder that God allowed me to live at all, and that, having made the mistake, he does not instantly correct it by killing me. Others prophesy that I will yet be a minister of the gospel; but, as there has never been any softening of the brain in our family, I imagine that the prophecy will never by fulfilled. Lately, on opening a letter and seeing that it is upon this subject, and without a signature, I throw it aside without reading. I have so often found them to be so grossly ignorant, insulting and malicious, that as a rule I read them no more.

Question. Of the hundreds of people who call upon you nearly every day to ask your help, do any of them ever discriminate against you on account of your Infidelity?

Answer. No one who has asked a favor of me objects to my religion, or, rather, to my lack of it. A great many people do come to me for assistance of one kind or another. But I have never yet asked a man or woman whether they were religious or not, to what church they belonged, or any questions upon the subject. I think I have done favors for persons of most denominations. It never occurs to me whether they are Christians or Infidels. I do not care. Of course, I do not expect that Christians will treat me the same as though I belonged to their church. I have never expected it. In some instances I have been disappointed. I have some excellent friends who disagree with me entirely upon the subject of religion. My real opinion is that secretly they like me because I am not a Christian, and those who do not like me envy the liberty I enjoy.

—New York correspondent, Chicago Times, May 29, 1881.


[* Our "Royal Bob" was found by The Gazette, in the gloaming of a delicious evening, during the past week, within the open portals of his friendly residence, dedicated by the gracious presence within to a simple and cordial hospitality, to the charms of friendship and the freedom of an abounding comradeship. With intellectual and untrammeled life, a generous, wise and genial host, whoever enters finds a welcome, seasoned with kindly wit and Attic humor, a poetic insight and a delicious frankness which renders an evening there a veritable symposium. The wayfarer who passes is charmed, and he who comes frequently, goes always away with delighted memories.

What matters it that we differ? such as he and his make our common life the sweeter. An hour or two spent in the attractive parlors of the Ingersoll homestead, amid that rare group, lends a newer meaning to the idea of home and a more secure beauty to the fact of family life. During the past exciting three weeks Colonel Ingersoll has been a busy man. He holds no office. No position could lend him an additional crown and even recognition is no longer necessary. But it has been well that amid the first fierce fury of anger and excitement, and the subsequent more bitter if not as noble outpouring of faction's suspicions and innuendoes, that so manly a man, so sagacious a counsellor, has been enabled to hold so positive a balance. Cabinet officers, legal functionaries, detectives, citizens—all have felt the wise, humane instincts, and the capacious brain of this marked man affecting and influencing for this fair equipoise and calmer judgment.

Conversing freely on the evening of this visit, Colonel Ingersoll, in the abundance of his pleasure at the White House news, submitted to be interviewed, and with the following result.]

Question. By-the-way, Colonel, you knew Guiteau slightly, we believe. Are you aware that it has been attempted to show that some money loaned or given him by yourself was really what he purchased the pistol with?

Answer. I knew Guiteau slightly; I saw him for the first time a few days after the inauguration. He wanted a consulate, and asked me to give him a letter to Secretary Blaine. I refused, on the ground that I didn't know him. Afterwards he wanted me to lend him twenty-five dollars, and I declined. I never loaned him a dollar in the world. If I had, I should not feel that I was guilty of trying to kill the President. On the principle that one would hold the man guilty who had innocently loaned the money with which he bought the pistol, you might convict the tailor who made his clothes. If he had had no clothes he would not have gone to the depot naked, and the crime would not have been committed. It is hard enough for the man who did lend him the money to lose that, without losing his reputation besides. Nothing can exceed the utter absurdity of what has been said upon this subject.

Question. How did Guiteau impress you and what have you remembered, Colonel, of his efforts to reply to your lectures?

Answer. I do not know that Guiteau impressed me in any way. He appeared like most other folks in search of a place or employment. I suppose he was in need. He talked about the same as other people, and claimed that I ought to help him because he was from Chicago. The second time he came to see me he said that he hoped I had no prejudice against him on account of what he had said about me. I told him that I never knew he had said anything against me. I suppose now that he referred to what he had said in his lectures. He went about the country replying to me. I have seen one or two of his lectures. He used about the same arguments that Mr. Black uses in his reply to my article in the North American Review, and denounced me in about the same terms. He is undoubtedly a man who firmly believes in the Old Testament, and has no doubt concerning the New. I understand that he puts in most of his time now reading the Bible and rebuking people who use profane language in his presence.

Question. You most certainly do not see any foundation for the accusations of preachers like Sunderland, Newman and Power, et al, that the teaching of a secular liberalism has had anything to do with the shaping of Guiteau's character or the actions of his vagabond life or the inciting to his murderous deeds?

Answer. I do not think that the sermon of Mr. Power was in good taste. It is utterly foolish to charge the "Stalwarts" with committing or inciting the crime against the life of the President. Ministers, though, as a rule, know but little of public affairs, and they always account for the actions of people they do not like or agree with, by attributing to them the lowest and basest motives. This is the fault of the pulpit—always has been, and probably always will be. The Rev. Dr. Newman of New York, tells us that the crime of Guiteau shows three things: First, that ignorant men should not be allowed to vote; second, that foreigners should not be allowed to vote; and third, that there should not be so much religious liberty.

It turns out, first, the Guiteau is not an ignorant man; second, that he is not a foreigner; and third, that he is a Christian. Now, because an intelligent American Christian tries to murder the President, this person says we ought to do something with ignorant foreigners and Infidels. This is about the average pulpit logic. Of course, all the ministers hate to admit the Guiteau was a Christian; that he belonged to the Young Men's Christian Association, or at least was generally found in their rooms; that he was a follower of Moody and Sankey, and probably instrumental in the salvation of a great many souls. I do not blame them for wishing to get rid of this record. What I blame them for is that they are impudent enough to charge the crime of Guiteau upon Infidelity. Infidels and Atheists have often killed tyrants. They have often committed crimes to increase the liberty of mankind; but the history of the world will not show an instance where an Infidel or an Atheist has assassinated any man in the interest of human slavery. Of course, I am exceedingly glad that Guiteau is not an Infidel. I am glad that he believes the Bible, glad that he has delivered lectures against what he calls Infidelity, and glad that he has been working for years with the missionaries and evangelists of the United States. He is a man of small brain, badly balanced. He believes the Bible to be the word of God. He believes in the reality of heaven and hell. He believes in the miraculous. He is surrounded by the supernatural, and when a man throws away his reason, of course no one can tell what he will do. He is liable to become a devotee or an assassin, a saint or a murderer; he may die in a monastery or in a penitentiary.

Question. According to your view, then, the species of fanaticism taught in sectarian Christianity, by which Guiteau was led to assert that Garfield dead would be better off then living—being in Paradise —is more responsible than office seeking or political factionalism for his deed?

Answer. Guiteau seemed to think that the killing of the President would only open the gates of Paradise to him, and that, after all, under such circumstances, murder was hardly a crime. This same kind of reasoning is resorted to in the pulpit to account for death. If Guiteau had succeeded in killing the President, hundreds of ministers would have said, "After all, it may be that the President has lost nothing; it may be that our loss is his eternal gain; and although it seems cruel that Providence should allow a man like him to be murdered, still, it may have been the very kindest thing that could have been done for him." Guiteau reasoned in this way, and probably convinced himself, judging from his own life, that this world was, after all, of very little worth. We are apt to measure others by ourselves. Of course, I do not think Christianity is responsible for this crime. Superstition may have been, in part —probably was. But no man believes in Christianity because he thinks it sanctions murder. At the same time, an absolute belief in the Bible sometimes produces the worst form of murder. Take that of Mr. Freeman, of Poeasset, who stabbed his little daughter to the heart in accordance with what he believed to be the command of God. This poor man imitated Abraham; and, for that matter, Jehovah himself. There have been in the history of Christianity thousands and thousands of such instances, and there will probably be many thousands more that have been and will be produced by throwing away our own reason and taking the word of some one else —often a word that we do not understand.

Question. What is your opinion as to the effect of praying for the recovery of the President, and have you any confidence that prayers are answered?

Answer. My opinion as to the value of prayer is well known. I take it that every one who prays for the President shows at least his sympathy and good will. Personally, I have no objection to anybody's praying. Those who think their prayers are answered should pray. For all who honestly believe this, and who honestly implore their Deity to watch over, protect, and save the life of the President, I have only the kindliest feelings.

It may be that a few will pray to be seen of men; but I suppose that most people on a subject like this are honest. Personally, I have not the slightest idea of the existence of the supernatural. Prayer may affect the person who prays. It may put him in such a frame of mind that he can better bear disappointment than if he had not prayed; but I cannot believe that there is any being who hears and answers prayer.

When we remember the earthquakes that have devoured, the pestilences that have covered the earth with corpses, and all the crimes and agonies that have been inflicted upon the good and weak by the bad and strong, it does not seem possible that anything can be accomplished by prayer. I do not wish to hurt the feelings of anyone, but I imagine that I have a right to my own opinion. If the President gets well it will be because the bullet did not strike an absolutely vital part; it will be because he has been well cared for; because he has had about him intelligent and skillful physicians, men who understood their profession. No doubt he has received great support from the universal expression of sympathy and kindness. The knowledge that fifty millions of people are his friends has given him nerve and hope. Some of the ministers, I see, think that God was actually present and deflected the ball. Another minister tells us that the President would have been assassinated in a church, but that God determined not to allow so frightful a crime to be committed in so sacred an edifice. All this sounds to me like perfect absurdity—simple noise. Yet, I presume that those who talk in this way are good people and believe what they say. Of course, they can give no reason why God did not deflect the ball when Lincoln was assassinated. The truth is, the pulpit first endeavors to find out the facts, and then to make a theory to fit them. Whoever believes in a special providence must, of necessity, by illogical and absurd; because it is impossible to make any theological theory that some facts will not contradict.

Question. Won't you give us, then, Colonel, your analysis of this act, and the motives leading to it?

Answer. I think Guiteau wanted an office and was refused. He became importunate. He was, substantially, put out of the White House. He became malicious. He made up his mind to be revenged. This, in my judgment, is the diagnosis of his case. Since he has been in jail he has never said one word about having been put out of the White House; he is lawyer enough to know he must not furnish any ground for malice. He is a miserable, malicious and worthless wretch, infinitely egotistical, imagines that he did a great deal toward the election of Garfield, and upon being refused the house a serpent of malice coiled in his heart, and he determined to be revenged. That is all!

Question. Do you, in any way, see any reason or foundation for the severe and bitter criticisms made against the Stalwart leaders in connection with this crime? As you are well known to be a friend of the administration, while not unfriendly to Mr. Conkling and those acting with him, would you mind giving the public your opinion on this point?

Answer. Of course, I do not hold Arthur, Conkling and Platt responsible for Guiteau's action. In the first excitement a thousand unreasonable things were said; and when passion has possession of the brain, suspicion is a welcome visitor.

I do not think that any friend of the administration really believes Conkling, Platt and Arthur responsible in the slightest degree. Conkling wished to prevent the appointment of Robertson. The President stood by his friend. One thing brought on another, Mr. Conkling petulantly resigned, and made the mistake of his life. There was a good deal of feeling, but, of course, no one dreamed that the wretch, Guiteau, was lying in wait for the President's life. In the first place, Guiteau was on the President's side, and was bitterly opposed to Conkling. Guiteau did what he did from malice and personal spite. I think the sermon preached last Sunday in the Campbellite Church was unwise, ill advised, and calculated to make enemies instead of friends. Mr. Conkling has been beaten. He has paid for the mistake he made. If he can stand it, I can; and why should there be any malice on the subject? Exceedingly good men have made mistakes, and afterward corrected them.

Question. Is it not true, Colonel Ingersoll, that the lesson of this deed is to point the real and overwhelming need of re-knitting and harmonizing the factions?

Answer. There is hardly enough faction left for "knitting." The party is in harmony now. All that is necessary is to stop talking. The people of this country care very little as to who holds any particular office. They wish to have the Government administered in accordance with certain great principles, and they leave the fields, the shops, and the stores once in four years, for the purpose of attending to that business. In the meantime, politicians quarrel about offices. The people go on. They plow fields, they build homes, they open mines, they enrich the world, they cover our country with prosperity, and enjoy the aforesaid quarrels. But when the time comes, these gentlemen are forgotten.

Principles take the place of politicians, and the people settle these questions for themselves.

Sunday Gazette, Washington, D. C., July 24, 1881.


Question. You have heretofore incidentally expressed yourself on the matter of local suffrage in the District of Columbia. Have you any objections to giving your present views of the question?

Answer. I am still in favor of suffrage in the District. The real trouble is, that before any substantial relief can be reached, there must be a change in the Constitution of the United States. The mere right to elect aldermen and mayors and policemen is of no great importance. It is a mistake to take all political power from the citizens of the District. Americans want to help rule the country. The District ought to have at least one Representative in Congress, and should elect one presidential elector. The people here should have a voice. They should feel that they are a part of this country. They should have the right to sue in all Federal courts, precisely as though they were citizens of a State. This city ought to have half a million of inhabitants. Thousands would come here every year from every part of the Union, were it not for the fact that they do not wish to become political nothings. They think that citizenship is worth something, and they preserve it by staying away from Washington. This city is a "flag of truce" where wounded and dead politicians congregate; the Mecca of failures, the perdition of claimants, the purgatory of seekers after place, and the heaven only of those who neither want nor do anything. Nothing is manufactured, no solid business is done in this city, and there never will be until energetic, thrifty people wish to make it their home, and they will not wish that until the people of the District have something like the rights and political prospects of other citizens. It is hard to see why the right to representation should be taken from citizens living in the Capital of the Nation. The believers in free government should believe in a free capital.

Question. Are there any valid reasons why the constitutional limitations to the elective franchise in the District of Columbia should not be removed by an amendment to that instrument?

Answer. I cannot imagine one. If our Government is founded upon a correct principle there can be no objection urged against suffrage in the District that cannot, with equal force, be urged against every part of the country. If freedom is dangerous here, it is safe nowhere. If a man cannot be trusted in the District, he is dangerous in the State. We do not trust the place where the man happens to be; we trust the man. The people of this District cannot remain in their present condition without becoming dishonored. The idea of allowing themselves to be governed by commissioners, in whose selection they have no part, is monstrous. The people here beg, implore, request, ask, pray, beseech, intercede, crave, urge, entreat, supplicate, memorialize and most humbly petition, but they neither vote nor demand. They are not allowed to enter the Temple of Liberty; they stay in the lobby or sit on the steps.

Question. They say Paris is France, because her electors or citizens control that municipality. Do you foresee any danger of centralization in the full enfranchisement of the citizens of Washington?

Answer. There was a time when the intelligence of France was in Paris. The country was besotted, ignorant, Catholic; Paris was alive, educated, Infidel, full of new theories, of passion and heroism. For two hundred years Paris was an athlete chained to a corpse. The corpse was the rest of France. It is different now, and the whole country is at last filling with light. Besides, Paris has two millions of people. It is filled with factories. It is not only the intellectual center, but the center of money and business as well. Let the Corps Legislatif meet anywhere, and Paris will continue to be in a certain splendid sense—France. Nothing like that can ever happen here unless you expect Washington to outstrip New York, Philadelphia and Chicago. If allowing the people of the District of Columbia to vote was the only danger to the Republic, I should be politically the happiest of men. I think it somewhat dangerous to deprive even one American citizen of the right to govern himself.

Question. Would you have Government clerks and officials appointed to office here given the franchise in the District? and should this, if given, include the women clerks?

Answer. Citizenship should be determined here as in the States. Clerks should not be allowed to vote unless their intention is to make the District their home. When I make a government I shall give one vote to each family. The unmarried should not be represented except by parents. Let the family be the unit of representation. Give each hearthstone a vote.

Question. How do you regard the opposition of the local clergy and of the Bourbon Democracy to enfranchising the citizens of the District?

Answer. I did not know that the clergy did oppose it. If, as you say, they do oppose it because they fear it will extend the liquor traffic, I think their reason exceedingly stupid. You cannot make men temperate by shutting up a few of the saloons and leaving others wide open. Intemperance must be met with other weapons. The church ought not to appeal to force. What would the clergy of Washington think should the miracle of Cana be repeated in their day? Had they been in that country, with their present ideas, what would they have said? After all there is a great deal of philosophy in the following: "Better have the whole world voluntarily drunk then sober on compulsion." Of course the Bourbons object. Objecting is the business of a Bourbon. He always objects. If he does not understand the question he objects because he does not, and if he does understand he objects because he does. With him the reason for objecting is the fact that he does.

Question. What effect, if any, would the complete franchise to our citizens have upon real estate and business in Washington?

Answer. If the people here had representation according to numbers—if the avenues to political preferment were open—if men here could take part in the real government of the country, if they could bring with them all their rights, this would be a great and splendid Capital. We ought to have here a University, the best in the world, a library second to none, and here should be gathered the treasures of American art. The Federal Government has been infinitely economical in the direction of information. I hope the time will come when our Government will give as much to educate two men as to kill one.

The Capital, Washington, D. C., December 18, 1881.


[* Robert G. Ingersoll rarely takes the trouble to answer critics. His recent address over the dead body of his friend John G. Mills has called forth a storm of denunciation from nearly every pulpit in the country. The writer called at the Colonel's office in New York Avenue yesterday and asked him to reply to some of the points made against him. Reluctantly he assented.]

Question. Have you seen the recent clerical strictures upon your doctrines?

Answer. There are always people kind enough to send me anything they have the slightest reason to think I do not care to read. They seem to be animated by a missionary spirit, and apparently want to be in a position when they see me in hell to exclaim: "You can't blame me. I sent you all the impudent articles I saw, and if you died unconverted it was no fault of mine."

Question. Did you notice that a Washington clergyman said that the very fact that you were allowed to speak at the funeral was in itself a sacrilege, and that you ought to have been stopped?

Answer. Yes, I saw some such story. Of course, the clergy regard marriages and funerals as the perquisites of the pulpit, and they resent any interference on the part of the pews. They look at these matters from a business point of view. They made the same cry against civil marriages. They denied that marriage was a contract, and insisted that it was a sacrament, and that it was hardly binding unless a priest had blessed it. They used to bury in consecrated ground, and had marks upon the graves, so that Gabriel might know the ones to waken. The clergy wish to make themselves essential. They must christen the babe—this gives them possession of the cradle. They must perform the ceremony of marriage —this gives them possession of the family. They must pronounce the funeral discourse—this gives them possession of the dead. Formerly they denied baptism to the children of the unbeliever, marriage to him who denied the dogmas of the church, and burial to honest men. The church wishes to control the world, and wishes to sacrifice this world for the next. Of course I am in favor of the utmost liberty upon all these questions. When a Presbyterian dies, let a follower of John Calvin console the living by setting forth the "Five Points." When a Catholic becomes clay, let a priest perform such ceremonies as his creed demands, and let him picture the delights of purgatory for the gratification of the living. And when one dies who does not believe in any religion, having expressed a wish that somebody say a few words above his remains, I see no reason why such a proceeding should be stopped, and, for my part, I see no sacrilege in it. Why should the reputations of the dead, and the feelings of those who live, be placed at the mercy of the ministers? A man dies not having been a Christian, and who, according to the Christian doctrine, is doomed to eternal fire. How would an honest Christian minister console the widow and the fatherless children? How would he dare to tell what he claims to be truth in the presence of the living? The truth is, the Christian minister in the presence of death abandons his Christianity. He dare not say above the coffin, "the soul that once inhabited this body is now in hell." He would be denounced as a brutal savage. Now and then a minister at a funeral has been brave enough and unmannerly enough to express his doctrine in all its hideousness of hate. I was told that in Chicago, many years ago, a young man, member of a volunteer fire company, was killed by the falling of a wall, and at the very moment the wall struck him he was uttering a curse. He was a brave and splendid man. An orthodox minister said above his coffin, in the presence of his mother and mourning friends, that he saw no hope for the soul of that young man. The mother, who was also orthodox, refused to have her boy buried with such a sermon—stopped the funeral, took the corpse home, engaged a Universalist preacher, and, on the next day having heard this man say that there was no place in the wide universe of God without hope, and that her son would finally stand among the redeemed, this mother laid her son away, put flowers upon his grave, and was satisfied.

Question. What have you to say to the charge that you are preaching the doctrine of despair and hopelessness, when they have the comforting assurances of the Christian religion to offer?

Answer. All I have to say is this: If the Christian religion is true, as commonly preached—and when I speak of Christianity, I speak of the orthodox Christianity of the day—if that be true, those whom I have loved the best are now in torment. Those to whom I am most deeply indebted are now suffering the vengeance of God. If this religion be true, the future is of no value to me. I care nothing about heaven, unless the ones I love and have loved are there. I know nothing about the angels. I might not like them, and they might not like me. I would rather meet there the ones who have loved me here—the ones who would have died for me, and for whom I would have died; and if we are to be eternally divided —not because we differed in our views of justice, not because we differed about friendship or love or candor, or the nobility of human action, but because we differed in belief about the atonement or baptism or the inspiration of the Scriptures—and if some of us are to be in heaven, and some in hell, then, for my part, I prefer eternal sleep. To me the doctrine of annihilation is infinitely more consoling, than the probable separation preached by the orthodox clergy of our time. Of course, even if there be a God, I like persons that I know, better than I can like him—we have more in common—I know more about them; and how is it possible for me to love the infinite and unknown better than the ones I know? Why not have the courage to say that if there be a God, all I know about him I know by knowing myself and my friends—by knowing others? And, after all, is not a noble man, is not a pure woman, the finest revelation we have of God—if there be one? Of what use is it to be false to ourselves? What moral quality is there in theological pretence? Why should a man say that he loves God better than he does his wife or his children or his brother or his sister or his warm, true friend? Several ministers have objected to what I said about my friend Mr. Mills, on the ground that it was not calculated to console the living. Mr. Mills was not a Christian. He denied the inspiration of the Scriptures. He believed that restitution was the best repentance, and that, after all, sin is a mistake. He was not a believer in total depravity, or in the atonement. He denied these things. He was an unbeliever. Now, let me ask, what consolation could a Christian minister have given to his family? He could have said to the widow and the orphans, to the brother and sister: "Your husband, your father, your brother, is now in hell; dry your tears; weep not for him, but try and save yourselves. He has been damned as a warning to you, care no more for him, why should you weep over the grave of a man whom God thinks fit only to be eternally tormented? Why should you love the memory of one whom God hates?" The minister could have said: "He had an opportunity—he did not take it. The life-boat was lowered—he would not get in—he has been drowned, and the waves of God's wrath will sweep over him forever." This is the consolation of Christianity and the only honest consolation that Christianity can have for the widow and orphans of an unbeliever. Suppose, however, that the Christian minister has too tender a heart to tell what he believes to be the truth—then he can say to the sorrowing friends: "Perhaps the man repented before he died; perhaps he is not in hell, perhaps you may meet him in heaven;" and this "perhaps" is a consolation not growing out of Christianity, but out of the politeness of the preacher—out of paganism.

Question. Do you not think that the Bible has consolation for those who have lost their friends?

Answer. There is about the Old Testament this strange fact—I find in it no burial service. There is in it, I believe, from the first mistake in Genesis to the last curse in Malachi, not one word said over the dead as to their place and state. When Abraham died, nobody said: "He is still alive—he is in another world." When the prophets passed away, not one word was said as to the heaven to which they had gone. In the Old Testament, Saul inquired of the witch, and Samuel rose. Samuel did not pretend that he had been living, or that he was alive, but asked: "Why hast thou disquieted me?" He did not pretend to have come from another world. And when David speaks of his son, saying that he could not come back to him, but that he, David, could go to his son, that is but saying that he, too, must die. There is not in the Old Testament one hope of immortality. It is expressly asserted that there is no difference between the man and beast—that as the one dieth so dieth the other. There is one little passage in Job which commentators have endeavored to twist into a hope of immortality. Here is a book of hundreds and hundreds of pages, and hundreds and hundreds of chapters—a revelation from God—and in it one little passage, which, by a mistranslation, is tortured into saying something about another life. And this is the Old Testament. I have sometimes thought that the Jews, when slaves in Egypt, were mostly occupied in building tombs for mummies, and that they became so utterly disgusted with that kind of work, that the moment they founded a nation for themselves they went out of the tomb business. The Egyptians were believers in immortality, and spent almost their entire substance upon the dead. The living were impoverished to enrich the dead. The grave absorbed the wealth of Egypt. The industry of a nation was buried. Certainly the Old Testament has nothing clearly in favor of immortality. In the New Testament we are told about the "kingdom of heaven,"—that it is at hand—and about who shall be worthy, but it is hard to tell what is meant by the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven was apparently to be in this world, and it was about to commence. The Devil was to be chained for a thousand years, the wicked were to be burned up, and Christ and his followers were to enjoy the earth. This certainly was the doctrine of Paul when he says: "Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." According to this doctrine, those who were alive were to be changed, and those who had died were to be raised from the dead. Paul certainly did not refer to any other world beyond this. All these things were to happen here. The New Testament is made up of the fragments of many religions. It is utterly inconsistent with itself; and there is not a particle of evidence of the resurrection and ascension of Christ—neither in the nature of things could there be. It is a thousand times more probable that people were mistaken than that such things occurred. If Christ really rose from the dead, he should have shown himself, not simply to his disciples, but to the very men who crucified him—to Herod, to the high priest, to Pilate. He should have made a triumphal entry into Jerusalem after his resurrection, instead of before. He should have shown himself to the Sadducees,—to those who denied the existence of spirit. Take from the New Testament its doctrine of eternal pain—the idea that we can please God by acts of self-denial that can do no good to others—take away all its miracles, and I have no objection to all the good things in it—no objection to the hope of a future life, if such a hope is expressed—not the slightest. And I would not for the world say anything to take from any mind a hope in which dwells the least comfort, but a doctrine that dooms a large majority of mankind to eternal flames ought not to be called a consolation. What I say is, that the writers of the New Testament knew no more about the future state than I do, and no less. The horizon of life has never been pierced. The veil between time and what is called eternity, has never been raised, so far as I know; and I say of the dead what all others must say if they say only what they know. There is no particular consolation in a guess. Not knowing what the future has in store for the human race, it is far better to prophesy good than evil. It is better to hope that the night has a dawn, that the sky has a star, than to build a heaven for the few, and a hell for the many. It is better to leave your dead in doubt than in fire—better that they should sleep in shadow than in the lurid flames of perdition. And so I say, and always have said, let us hope for the best. The minister asks: "What right have you to hope? It is sacrilegious in you!" But, whether the clergy like it or not, I shall always express my real opinion, and shall always be glad to say to those who mourn: "There is in death, as I believe, nothing worse than sleep. Hope for as much better as you can. Under the seven-hued arch let the dead rest." Throw away the Bible, and you throw away the fear of hell, but the hope of another life remains, because the hope does not depend upon a book—it depends upon the heart—upon human affection. The fear, so far as this generation is concerned, is born of the book, and that part of the book was born of savagery. Whatever of hope is in the book is born, as I said before, of human affection, and the higher our civilization the greater the affection. I had rather rest my hope of something beyond the grave upon the human heart, than upon what they call the Scriptures, because there I find mingled with the hope of something good the threat of infinite evil. Among the thistles, thorns and briers of the Bible is one pale and sickly flower of hope. Among all its wild beasts and fowls, only one bird flies heavenward. I prefer the hope without the thorns, without the briers, thistles, hyenas, and serpents.

Question. Do you not know that it is claimed that immortality was brought to light in the New Testament, that that, in fact, was the principal mission of Christ?

Answer. I know that Christians claim that the doctrine of immortality was first taught in the New Testament. They also claim that the highest morality was found there. Both these claims are utterly without foundation. Thousands of years before Christ was born—thousands of years before Moses saw the light—the doctrine of immortality was preached by the priests of Osiris and Isis. Funeral discourses were pronounced over the dead, ages before Abraham existed. When a man died in Egypt, before he was taken across the sacred lake, he had a trial. Witnesses appeared, and if he had done anything wrong, for which he had not done restitution, he was not taken across the lake. The living friends, in disgrace, carried the body back, and it was buried outside of what might be called consecrated ground, while the ghost was supposed to wander for a hundred years. Often the children of the dead would endeavor to redeem the poor ghost by acts of love and kindness. When he came to the spirit world there was the god Anubis, who weighed his heart in the scales of eternal justice, and if the good deed preponderated he entered the gates of Paradise; if the evil, he had to go back to the world, and be born in the bodies of animals for the purpose of final purification. At last, the good deeds would outweigh the evil, and, according to the religion of Egypt, the latch-string of heaven would never be drawn in until the last wanderer got home. Immortality was also taught in India, and, in fact, in all the countries of antiquity. Wherever men have loved, wherever they have dreamed, wherever hope has spread its wings, the idea of immortality has existed. But nothing could be worse than the immortality promised in the New Testament—admitting that it is so promised—eternal joy side by side with eternal pain. Think of living forever, knowing that countless millions are suffering eternal pain! How much better it would be for God to commit suicide and let all life and motion cease! Christianity has no consolation except for the Christian, and if a Christian minister endeavors to console the widow of an unbeliever he must resort, not to his religion, but to his sympathy—to the natural promptings of the heart. He is compelled to say: "After all, may be God is not so bad as we think," or, "May be your husband was better than he appeared; perhaps somehow, in some way, the dear man has squeezed in; he was a good husband, he was a kind father, and even if he is in hell, may be he is in the temperate zone, where they have occasional showers, and where, if the days are hot, the nights are reasonably cool." All I ask of Christian ministers is to tell what they believe to be the truth—not to borrow ideas from the pagans—not to preach the mercy born of unregenerate sympathy. Let them tell their real doctrines. If they will do that, they will not have much influence. If orthodox Christianity is true, a large majority of the man who have made this world fit to live in are now in perdition. A majority of the Revolutionary soldiers have been damned. A majority of the man who fought for the integrity of this Union—a majority who were starved at Libby and Andersonville are now in hell.

Question. Do you deny the immortality of the soul?

Answer. I have never denied the immortality of the soul. I have simply been honest. I have said: "I do not know." Long ago, in my lecture on "The Ghosts," I used the following language: "The idea of immortality, that like a sea has ebbed and flowed in the human heart, with its countless waves of hope and fear beating against the shores and rocks of time and fate, was not born of any book, nor of any creed, nor of any religion. It was born of human affection, and it will continue to ebb and flow beneath the mists and clouds of doubt and darkness as long as love kisses the lips of death. It is the rainbow Hope, shining upon the tears of grief."

The Post, Washington, D. C., April 30, 1883.


[* Col. Ingersoll entertains very pronounced ideas concerning President Arthur, Attorney-General Brewster and divers other people, which will be found presented herewith in characteristically piquant style. With his family, the eloquent advocate has a cottage here, and finds brain and body rest and refreshment in the tumbling waves. This noon, in the height of a tremendous thunder storm, I bumped against his burly figure in the roaring crest, and, after the first shock had passed, determined to utilize the providential coincidence. The water was warm, our clothes were in the bathing houses, and comfort was more certain where we were than anywhere else. The Colonel is an expert swimmer and as a floater he cannot be beaten. He was floating when we bumped. Spouting a pint of salt water from his mouth, he nearly choked with laughter as in answer to my question he said: ]

No, I do not believe there will be any more Star Route trials. There is so much talk about the last one, there will not be time for another.

Question. Did you anticipate a verdict?

Answer. I did anticipate a verdict, and one of acquittal. I knew that the defendants were entitled to such a verdict. I knew that the Government had signally failed to prove a case. There was nothing but suspicion, from which malice was inferred. The direct proof was utterly unworthy of belief. The direct witness was caught with letters he had forged. This one fact was enough to cover the prosecution with confusion. The fact that Rerdell sat with the other defendants and reported to the Government from day to day satisfied the jury as to the value of his testimony, and the animus of the Department of Justice. Besides, Rerdell had offered to challenge such jurors as the Government might select. He handed counsel for defendants a list of four names that he wanted challenged. At that time it was supposed that each defendant would be allowed to challenge four jurors. Afterward the Court decided that all the defendants must be considered as one party and had the right to challenge four and no more. Of the four names on Rerdell's list the Government challenged three and Rerdell tried to challenge the other. This was what is called a coincidence. Another thing had great influence with the jury—the evidence of the defendants was upon all material points so candid and so natural, so devoid of all coloring, that the jury could not help believing. If the people knew the evidence they would agree with the jury. When we remember that there were over ten thousand star routes, it is not to be wondered at that some mistakes were made—that in some instances too much was paid and in others too little.

Question. What has been the attitude of President Arthur?

Answer. We asked nothing from the President. We wanted no help from him. We expected that he would take no part—that he would simply allow the matter to be settled by the court in the usual way. I think that he made one very serious mistake. He removed officers on false charges without giving them a hearing. He deposed Marshal Henry because somebody said that he was the friend of the defendants. Henry was a good officer and an honest man. The President removed Ainger for the same reason. This was a mistake. Ainger should have been heard. There is always time to do justice. No day is too short for justice, and eternity is not long enough to commit a wrong. It was thought that the community could be terrorized:—

First. The President dismissed Henry and Ainger.

Second. The Attorney-General wrote a letter denouncing the defendants as thieves and robbers.

Third. Other letters from Bliss and MacVeagh were published.

Fourth. Dixon, the foreman of the first jury, was indicted.

Fifth. Members of the first jury voting "guilty" were in various ways rewarded.

Sixth. Bargains were made with Boone and Rerdell. The cases against Boone were to be dismissed and Rerdell was promised immunity. Under these circumstances the second trial commenced. But of all the people in this country the citizens of Washington care least for Presidents and members of the Cabinets. They know what these officers are made of. They know that they are simply folks—that they do not hold office forever—that the Jupiters of to-day are often the pygmies of to-morrow. They have seen too many people come in with trumpets and flags and go out with hisses and rags to be overawed by the deities of a day. They have seen Lincoln and they are not to be frightened by his successors. Arthur took part to the extent of turning out men suspected of being friendly to the defence. Arthur was in a difficult place. He was understood to be the friend of Dorsey and, of course, had to do something. Nothing is more dangerous than a friend in power. He is obliged to show that he is impartial, and it always takes a good deal of injustice to establish a reputation for fairness.

Question. Was there any ground to expect aid or any different action on Arthur's part?

Answer. All we expected was that Arthur would do as the soldier wanted the Lord to do at New Orleans—"Just take neither side."

Question. Why did not Brewster speak?

Answer. The Court would not allow two closings. The Attorney- General did not care to speak in the "middle." He wished to close, and as he could not do that without putting Mr. Merrick out, he concluded to remain silent. The defendants had no objection to his speaking, but they objected to two closing arguments for the Government, and the Court decided they were right. Of course, I understand nothing about the way in which the attorneys for the prosecution arranged their difficulties. That was nothing to me; neither do I care what money they received—all that is for the next Congress. It is not for me to speak of those questions.

Question. Will there be other trials?

Answer. I think not. It does not seem likely that other attorneys will want to try, and the old ones have. My opinion is that we have had the last of the Star Route trials. It was claimed that the one tried was the strongest. If this is so the rest had better be dismissed. I think the people are tired of the whole business. It now seems probable that all the time for the next few years will be taken up in telling about the case that was tried. I see that Cook is telling about MacVeagh and James and Brewster and Bliss; Walsh is giving his opinion of Kellogg and Foster; Bliss is saying a few words about Cook and Gibson; Brewster is telling what Bliss told him; Gibson will have his say about Garfield and MacVeagh, and it now seems probable that we shall get the bottom facts about the other jury—the actions of Messrs. Hoover, Bowen, Brewster Cameron and others. Personally I have no interest in the business.

Question. How does the next campaign look?

Answer. The Republicans are making all the mistakes they can, and the only question now is, Can the Democrats make more? The tariff will be one of the great questions, and may be the only one except success. The Democrats are on both sides of the question. They hate to give up the word "only." Only for that word they might have succeeded in 1880. If they can let "only" alone, and say they want "a tariff for revenue" they will do better. The fact is the people are not in favor of free trade, neither do they want a tariff high enough to crush a class, but they do want a tariff to raise a revenue and to protect our industries. I am for protection because it diversifies industries and develops brain—allows us to utilize all the muscle and brain we have. A party attacking the manufacturing interests of this country will fail. There are too many millions of dollars invested and too many millions of people interested. The country is becoming alike interested in this question. We are no longer divided, as in slavery times, into manufacturing and agricultural districts or sections. Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Louisiana and Texas have manufacturing interests. And the Western States believe in the protection of their industries. The American people have a genius for manufacturing, a genius for invention. We are not the greatest painters or sculptors or scientists, but we are without doubt the greatest inventors. If we were all engaged in one business we would become stupid. Agricultural countries produce great wealth, but are never rich. To get rich it is necessary to mix thought with labor. To raise the raw material is a question of strength; to manufacture, to put it in useful and beautiful forms, is a question of mind. There is a vast difference between the value of, say, a milestone and a statue, and yet the labor expended in getting the raw material is about the same. The point, after all, is this: First, we must have revenue; second, shall we get this by direct taxation or shall we tax imports and at the same time protect American labor? The party that advocates reasonable protection will succeed.*

[* At this point, with far away peals of thunder, the storm ceased, the sun reappeared and a vault of heavenly blue swung overhead. "Let us get out," said Colonel Ingersoll. Suiting the action to the word, the Colonel struck out lustily for the beach, on which, hard as a rock and firm as flint, he soon planted his sturdy form. And as he lumbered across the sand to the side door of his comfortable cottage, some three hundred feet from the surf, the necessarily suggested contrast between Ingersoll in court and Ingersoll in soaked flannels was illustrated with forcible comicality. Half an hour later he was found in the cozy library puffing a high flavored Havana, and listening to home-made music of delicious quality. Ingersoll at home is pleasant to contemplate. His sense of personal freedom is there aptly pictured. Loving wife and affectionate daughters form, with happy-faced and genial-hearted father, a model circle into which friends deem it a privilege to enter and a pleasure to remain.

Continuing the conversation, ]

Question. In view of all this, where do you think the presidential candidate will come from?

Answer. From the West.

Question. Why so?

Answer. The South and East must compromise. Both can trust the West. The West represents the whole country. There is no provincialism in the West. The West is not old enough to have the prejudice of section; it is too prosperous to have hatred, too great to feel envy.

Question. You do not seem to think that Arthur has a chance?

Answer. No Vice-President was ever made President by the people. It is natural to resent the accident that gave the Vice-President the place. They regard the Vice-President as children do a stepmother. He is looked upon as temporary—a device to save the election—a something to stop a gap—a lighter—a political raft. He holds the horse until another rider is found. People do not wish death to suggest nominees for the presidency. I do not believe it will be possible for Mr. Arthur, no matter how well he acts, to overcome this feeling. The people like a new man. There is some excitement in the campaign, and besides they can have the luxury of believing that the new man is a great man.

Question. Do you not think Arthur has grown and is a greater man than when he was elected?

Answer. Arthur was placed in very trying circumstances, and, I think, behaved with great discretion. But he was Vice-President, and that is a vice that people will not pardon.

Question. How do you regard the situation in Ohio?

Answer. I hear that the Republicans are attacking Hoadly, saying that he is an Infidel. I know nothing about Mr. Hoadly's theological sentiments, but he certainly has the right to have and express his own views. If the Republicans of Ohio have made up their minds to disfranchise the Liberals, the sooner they are beaten the better. Why should the Republican party be so particular about religious belief? Was Lincoln an orthodox Christian? Were the founders of the party—the men who gave it heart and brain—conspicuous for piety? Were the abolitionists all believers in the inspiration of the Bible? Is Judge Hoadly to be attacked because he exercises the liberty that he gives to others? Has not the Republican party trouble enough with the spirituous to let the spiritual alone? If the religious issue is made, I hope that the party making it will be defeated. I know nothing about the effect of the recent decision of the Supreme Court of Ohio. It is a very curious decision and seems to avoid the Constitution with neatness and despatch. The decision seems to rest on the difference between the words tax and license—I. e., between allowing a man to sell whiskey for a tax of one hundred dollars or giving him a license to sell whiskey and charging him one hundred dollars. In this, the difference is in the law instead of the money. So far all the prohibitory legislation on the liquor question has been a failure. Beer is victorious, and Gambrinus now has Olympus all to himself. On his side is the "bail"—

Question. But who will win?

Answer. The present indications are favorable to Judge Hoadly. It is an off year. The Ohio leaders on one side are not in perfect harmony. The Germans are afraid, and they generally vote the Democratic ticket when in doubt. The effort to enforce the Sunday law, to close the gardens, to make one day in the week desolate and doleful, will give the Republicans a great deal of hard work.

Question. How about Illinois?

Answer. Republican always. The Supreme Court of Illinois has just made a good decision. That Court decided that a contract made on Sunday can be enforced. In other words, that Sunday is not holy enough to sanctify fraud. You can rely on a State with a Court like that. There is very little rivalry in Illinois. I think that General Oglesby will be the next Governor. He is one of the best men in that State or any other.

Question. What about Indiana?

Answer. In that State I think General Gresham is the coming man. He was a brave soldier, an able, honest judge, and he will fill with honor any position he may be placed in. He is an excellent lawyer, and has as much will as was ever put in one man. McDonald is the most available man for the Democrats. He is safe and in every respect reliable. He is without doubt the most popular man in his party.

Question. Well, Colonel, what are you up to?

Answer. Nothing. I am surrounded by sand, sea and sky. I listen to music, bathe in the surf and enjoy myself. I am wondering why people take interest in politics; why anybody cares about anything; why everybody is not contented; why people want to climb the greased pole of office and then dodge the brickbats of enemies and rivals; why any man wishes to be President, or a member of Congress, or in the Cabinet, or do anything except to live with the ones he loves, and enjoy twenty-four hours every day. I wonder why all New York does not come to Long Beach and hear Schreiner's Band play the music of Wagner, the greatest of all composers. Finally, in the language of Walt Whitman, "I loaf and invite my soul."

The Herald, New York, July 1, 1883.


Question. What do you think of newspaper interviewing?

Answer. I believe that James Redpath claims to have invented the "interview." This system opens all doors, does away with political pretence, batters down the fortifications of dignity and official importance, pulls masks from solemn faces, compels everybody to show his hand. The interviewer seems to be omnipresent. He is the next man after the accident. If a man should be blown up he would likely fall on an interviewer. He is the universal interrogation point. He asks questions for a living. If the interviewer is fair and honest he is useful, if the other way, he is still interesting. On the whole, I regard the interviewer as an exceedingly important person. But whether he is good or bad, he has come to stay. He will interview us until we die, and then ask the "friends" a few questions just to round the subject off.

Question. What do you think of the tendency of newspapers is at present?

Answer. The papers of the future, I think, will be "news" papers. The editorial is getting shorter and shorter. The paragraphist is taking the place of the heavy man. People rather form their own opinions from the facts. Of course good articles will always find readers, but the dreary, doleful, philosophical dissertation has had its day. The magazines will fall heir to such articles; then religious weeklies will take them up, and then they will cease altogether.

Question. Do you think the people lead the newspapers, or do the newspapers lead them?

Answer. The papers lead and are led. Most papers have for sale what people want to buy. As a rule the people who buy determine the character of the thing sold. The reading public grow more discriminating every year, and, as a result, are less and less "led." Violent papers—those that most freely attack private character—are becoming less hurtful, because they are losing their own reputations. Evil tends to correct itself. People do not believe all they read, and there is a growing tendency to wait and hear from the other side.

Question. Do newspapers to-day exercise as much influence as they did twenty-five years ago?

Answer. More, by the facts published, and less, by editorials. As we become more civilized we are governed less by persons and more by principles—less by faith and more by fact. The best of all leaders is the man who teaches people to lead themselves.

Question. What would you define public opinion to be?

Answer. First, in the widest sense, the opinion of the majority, including all kinds of people. Second, in a narrower sense, the opinion of the majority of the intellectual. Third, in actual practice, the opinion of those who make the most noise. Fourth, public opinion is generally a mistake, which history records and posterity repeats.

Question. What do you regard as the result of your lectures?

Answer. In the last fifteen years I have delivered several hundred lectures. The world is growing more and more liberal every day. The man who is now considered orthodox, a few years ago would have been denounced as an Infidel. People are thinking more and believing less. The pulpit is losing influence. In the light of modern discovery the creeds are growing laughable. A theologian is an intellectual mummy, and excites attention only as a curiosity. Supernatural religion has outlived its usefulness. The miracles and wonders of the ancients will soon occupy the same tent. Jonah and Jack the Giant Killer, Joshua and Red Riding Hood, Noah and Neptune, will all go into the collection of the famous Mother Hubbard.

The Morning Journal, New York, July 3, 1883.


Question. What do you think of the result in Ohio?

Answer. In Ohio prohibition did more harm to the Republican chances than anything else. The Germans hold the Republicans responsible. The German people believe in personal liberty. They came to America to get it, and they regard any interference in the manner or quantity of their food and drink as an invasion of personal rights. They claim they are not questions to be regulated by law, and I agree with them. I believe that people will finally learn to use spirits temperately and without abuse, but teetotalism is intemperance in itself, which breeds resistance, and without destroying the rivulet of the appetite only dams it and makes it liable to break out at any moment. You can prevent a man from stealing by tying his hands behind him, but you cannot make him honest. Prohibition breeds too many spies and informers, and makes neighbors afraid of each other. It kills hospitality. Again, the Republican party in Ohio is endeavoring to have Sunday sanctified by the Legislature. The working people want freedom on Sunday. They wish to enjoy themselves, and all laws now making to prevent innocent amusement, beget a spirit of resentment among the common people. I feel like resenting all such laws, and unless the Republican party reforms in that particular, it ought to be defeated. I regard those two things as the principal causes of the Republican party's defeat in Ohio.

Question. Do you believe that the Democratic success was due to the possession of reverse principles?

Answer. I do not think that the Democratic party is in favor of liberty of thought and action in these two regards, from principle, but rather from policy. Finding the course pursued by the Republicans unpopular, they adopted the opposite mode, and their success is a proof of the truth of what I contend. One great trouble in the Republican party is bigotry. The pulpit is always trying to take charge. The same thing exists in the Democratic party to a less degree. The great trouble here is that its worst element—Catholicism —is endeavoring to get control.

Question. What causes operated for the Republican success in Iowa?

Answer. Iowa is a prohibition State and almost any law on earth as against anything to drink, can be carried there. There are no large cities in the State and it is much easier to govern, but even there the prohibition law is bound to be a failure. It will breed deceit and hypocrisy, and in the long run the influence will be bad.

Question. Will these two considerations cut any figure in the presidential campaign of 1884?

Answer. The party, as a party, will have nothing to do with these questions. These matters are local. Whether the Republicans are successful will depend more upon the country's prosperity. If things should be generally in pretty good shape in 1884, the people will allow the party to remain in power. Changes of administration depend a great deal on the feeling of the country. If crops are bad and money is tight, the people blame the administration, whether it is responsible or not. If a ship going down the river strikes a snag, or encounters a storm, a cry goes up against the captain. It may not have been his fault, but he is blamed, all the same, and the passengers at once clamor for another captain. So it is in politics.

If nothing interferes between this and 1884, the Republican party will continue. Otherwise it will be otherwise. But the principle of prosperity as applied to administrative change is strong. If the panic of 1873 had occurred in 1876 there would have been no occasion for a commission to sit on Tilden. If it had struck us in 1880, Hancock would have been elected. Neither result would have its occasion in the superiority of the Democratic party, but in the belief that the Republican party was in some vague way blamable for the condition of things, and there should be a change. The Republican party is not as strong as it used to be. The old leaders have dropped out and no persons have yet taken their places. Blaine has dropped out, and is now writing a book. Conkling dropped out and is now practicing law, and so I might go on enumerating leaders who have severed their connection with the party and are no longer identified with it.

Question. What is your opinion regarding the Republican nomination for President?

Answer. My belief is that the Republicans will have to nominate some man who has not been conspicuous in any faction, and upon whom all can unite. As a consequence he must be a new man. The Democrats must do the same. They must nominate a new man. The old ones have been defeated so often that they start handicapped with their own histories, and failure in the past is very poor raw material out of which to manufacture faith for the future. My own judgment is that for the Democrats, McDonald is as strong a man as they can get. He is a man of most excellent sense and would be regarded as a safe man. Tilden? He is dead, and he occupies no stronger place in the general heart than a graven image. With no magnetism, he has nothing save his smartness to recommend him.

Question. What are your views, generally expressed, on the tariff?

Answer. There are a great many Democrats for protection and a great many for so-called free trade. I think the large majority of American people favor a reasonable tariff for raising our revenue and protecting our manufactures. I do not believe in tariff for revenue only, but for revenue and protection. The Democrats would have carried the country had they combined revenue and incidental protection.

Question. Are they rectifying the error now?

Answer. I believe they are, already. They will do it next fall. If they do not put it in their platform they will embody it in their speeches. I do not regard the tariff as a local, but a national issue, notwithstanding Hancock inclined to the belief that it was the former.

The Times, Chicago, Illinois, October 13, 1883.


Question. What is your explanation of the Republican disaster last Tuesday?

Answer. Too much praying and not enough paying, is my explanation of the Republican defeat.

First. I think the attempt to pass the Prohibition Amendment lost thousands of votes. The people of this country, no matter how much they may deplore the evils of intemperance, are not yet willing to set on foot a system of spying into each other's affairs. They know that prohibition would need thousands of officers—that it would breed informers and spies and peekers and skulkers by the hundred in every county. They know that laws do not of themselves make good people. Good people make good laws. Americans do not wish to be temperate upon compulsion. The spirit that resents interference in these matters is the same spirit that made and keeps this a free country. All this crusade and prayer-meeting business will not do in politics. We must depend upon the countless influences of civilization, upon science, art, music—upon the softening influences of kindness and argument. As life becomes valuable people will take care of it. Temperance upon compulsion destroys something more valuable than itself—liberty. I am for the largest liberty in all things.

Second. The Prohibitionists, in my opinion, traded with Democrats. The Democrats were smart enough to know that prohibition could not carry, and that they could safely trade. The Prohibitionists were insane enough to vote for their worst enemies, just for the sake of polling a large vote for prohibition, and were fooled as usual.

Thirdly. Certain personal hatreds of certain Republican politicians. These were the causes which led to Republican defeat in Ohio.

Question. Will it necessitate the nomination of an Ohio Republican next year?

Answer. I do not think so. Defeat is apt to breed dissension, and on account of that dissension the party will have to take a man from some other State. One politician will say to another, "You did it," and another will reply, "You are the man who ruined the party." I think we have given Ohio her share; certainly she has given us ours.

Question. Will this reverse seriously affect Republican chances next year?

Answer. If the country is prosperous next year, if the crops are good, if prices are fair, if Pittsburg is covered with smoke, if the song of the spindle is heard in Lowell, if stocks are healthy, the Republicans will again succeed. If the reverse as to crops and forges and spindles, then the Democrats will win. It is a question of "chich-bugs," and floods and drouths.

Question. Who, in your judgment, would be the strongest man the Republicans could put up?

Answer. Last year I thought General Sherman, but he has gone to Missouri, and now I am looking around. The first day I find out I will telegraph you.

The Democrat, Dayton, Ohio, October 15, 1883.


Question. What do you think of the recent opinion of the Supreme Court touching the rights of the colored man?

Answer. I think it is all wrong. The intention of the framers of the amendment, by virtue of which the law was passed, was that no distinction should be made in inns, in hotels, cars, or in theatres; in short, in public places, on account of color, race, or previous condition. The object of the men who framed that amendment to the Constitution was perfectly clear, perfectly well known, perfectly understood. They intended to secure, by an amendment to the fundamental law, what had been fought for by hundreds of thousands of men. They knew that the institution of slavery had cost rebellion; the also knew that the spirit of caste was only slavery in another form. They intended to kill that spirit. Their object was that the law, like the sun, should shine upon all, and that no man keeping a hotel, no corporation running cars, no person managing a theatre should make any distinction on account of race or color. This amendment is above all praise. It was the result of a moral exaltation, such as the world never before had seen. There were years during the war, and after, when the American people were simply sublime; when their generosity was boundless; when they were willing to endure any hardship to make this an absolutely free country.

This decision of the Supreme Court puts the best people of the colored race at the mercy of the meanest portion of the white race. It allows a contemptible white man to trample upon a good colored man. I believe in drawing a line between good and bad, between clean and unclean, but I do not believe in drawing a color line which is as cruel as the lash of slavery.

I am willing to be on an equality in all hotels, in all cars, in all theatres, with colored people. I make no distinction of race. Those make the distinction who cannot afford not to. If nature has made no distinction between me and some others, I do not ask the aid of the Legislature. I am willing to associate with all good, clean persons, irrespective of complexion.

This decision virtually gives away one of the great principles for which the war was fought. It carries the doctrine of "State Rights" to the Democratic extreme, and renders necessary either another amendment or a new court.

I agree with Justice Harlan. He has taken a noble and patriotic stand. Kentucky rebukes Massachusetts! I am waiting with some impatience—impatient because I anticipate a pleasure—for his dissenting opinion. Only a little while ago Justice Harlan took a very noble stand on the Virginia Coupon cases, in which was involved the right of a State to repudiate its debts. Now he has taken a stand in favor of the civil rights of the colored man; and in both instances I think he is right.

This decision may, after all, help the Republican party. A decision of the Supreme Court aroused the indignation of the entire North, and I hope the present decision will have a like effect. The good people of this country will not be satisfied until every man beneath the flag, without the slightest respect to his complexion, stands on a perfect equality before the law with every other. Any government that makes a distinction on account of color, is a disgrace to the age in which we live. The idea that a man like Frederick Douglass can be denied entrance to a car, that the doors of a hotel can be shut in his face; that he may be prevented from entering a theatre; the idea that there shall be some ignominious corner into which such a man can be thrown simply by a decision of the Supreme Court! This idea is simply absurd.

Question. What remains to be done now, and who is going to do it?

Answer. For a good while people have been saying that the Republican party has outlived its usefulness; that there is very little difference now between the parties; that there is hardly enough left to talk about. This decision opens the whole question. This decision says to the Republican party, "Your mission is not yet ended. This is not a free country. Our flag does not protect the rights of a human being." This decision is the tap of a drum. The old veterans will fall into line. This decision gives the issue for the next campaign, and it may be that the Supreme Court has builded wiser than it knew. This is a greater question than the tariff or free trade. It is a question of freedom, of human rights, of the sacredness of humanity.

The real Americans, the real believers in Liberty, will give three cheers for Judge Harlan.

One word more. The Government is bound to protect its citizens, not only when they are away from home, but when they are under the flag. In time of war the Government has a right to draft any citizen; to put that citizen in the line of battle, and compel him to fight for the nation. If the Government when imperiled has the right to compel a citizen, whether white or black, to defend with his blood the flag, that citizen, when imperiled, has the right to demand protection from the Nation. The Nation cannot then say, "You must appeal to your State." If the citizen must appeal to the State for redress, then the citizen should defend the State and not the General Government, and the doctrine of State Rights then becomes complete.

The National Republican, Washington, D. C., October 17, 1883.


Question. What do you think of Justice Harlan's dissenting opinion in the Civil Rights case?

Answer. I have just read it and think it admirable in every respect. It is unanswerable. He has given to words their natural meaning. He has recognized the intention of the framers of the recent amendments. There is nothing in this opinion that is strained, insincere, or artificial. It is frank and manly. It is solid masonry, without crack or flaw. He does not resort to legal paint or putty, or to verbal varnish or veneer. He states the position of his brethren of the bench with perfect fairness, and overturns it with perfect ease. He has drawn an instructive parallel between the decisions of the olden time, upholding the power of Congress to deal with individuals in the interests of slavery, and the power conferred on Congress by the recent amendments. He has shown by the old decisions, that when a duty is enjoined upon Congress, ability to perform it is given; that when a certain end is required, all necessary means are granted. He also shows that the Fugitive Slave Acts of 1793 and of 1850, rested entirely upon the implied power of Congress to enforce a master's rights; and that power was once implied in favor of slavery against human rights, and implied from language shadowy, feeble and uncertain when compared with the language of the recent amendments. He has shown, too, that Congress exercised the utmost ingenuity in devising laws to enforce the master's claim. Implication was held ample to deprive a human being of his liberty, but to secure freedom, the doctrine of implication is abandoned. As a foundation for wrong, implication was their rock. As a foundation for right, it is now sand. Implied power then was sufficient to enslave, while power expressly given is now impotent to protect.

Question. What do you think of the use he has made of the Dred Scott decision?

Answer. Well, I think he has shown conclusively that the present decision, under the present circumstances, is far worse than the Dred Scott decision was under the then circumstances. The Dred Scott decision was a libel upon the best men of the Revolutionary period. That decision asserted broadly that our forefathers regarded the negroes as having no rights which white men were bound to respect; that the negroes were merely merchandise, and that that opinion was fixed and universal in the civilized portion of the white race, and that no one thought of disputing it. Yet Franklin contended that slavery might be abolished under the preamble of the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson said that if the slave should rise to cut the throat of his master, God had no attribute that would side against the slave. Thomas Paine attacked the institution with all the intensity and passion of his nature. John Adams regarded the institution with horror. So did every civilized man, South and North.

Justice Harlan shows conclusively that the Thirteenth Amendment was adopted in the light of the Dred Scott decision; that it overturned and destroyed, not simply the decision, but the reasoning upon which it was based; that it proceeded upon the ground that the colored people had rights that white men were bound to respect, not only, but that the Nation was bound to protect. He takes the ground that the amendment was suggested by the condition of that race, which had been declared by the Supreme Court of the United States to have no rights which white men were bound to respect; that it was made to protect people whose rights had been invaded, and whose strong arms had assisted in the overthrow of the Rebellion; that it was made for the purpose of putting these men upon a legal authority with white citizens.

Justice Harland also shows that while legislation of Congress to enforce a master's right was upheld by implication, the rights of the negro do not depend upon that doctrine; that the Thirteenth Amendment does not rest upon implication, or upon inference; that by its terms it places the power in Congress beyond the possibility of a doubt—conferring the power to enforce the amendment by appropriate legislation in express terms; and he also shows that the Supreme Court has admitted that legislation for that purpose may be direct and primary. Had not the power been given in express terms, Justice Harlan contends that the sweeping declaration that neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall exist would by implication confer the power. He also shows conclusively that, under the Thirteenth Amendment, Congress has the right by appropriate legislation to protect the colored people against the deprivation of any right on account of their race, and that Congress is not necessarily restricted, under the Thirteenth Amendment, to legislation against slavery as an institution, but that power may be exerted to the extent of protecting the race from discrimination in respect to such rights as belong to freemen, where such discrimination is based on race or color.

If Justice Harlan is wrong the amendments are left without force and Congress without power. No purpose can be assigned for their adoption. No object can be guessed that was to be accomplished. They become words, so arranged that they sound like sense, but when examined fall meaninglessly apart. Under the decision of the Supreme Court they are Quaker cannon—cloud forts—"property" for political stage scenery—coats of mail made of bronzed paper— shields of gilded pasteboard—swords of lath.

Question. Do you wish to say anything as to the reasoning of Justice Harlan on the rights of colored people on railways, in inns and theatres?

Answer. Yes, I do. That part of the opinion is especially strong. He shows conclusively that a common carrier is in the exercise of a sort of public office and has public duties to perform, and that he cannot exonerate himself from the performance of these duties without the consent of the parties concerned. He also shows that railroads are public highways, and that the railway company is the agent of the State, and that a railway, although built by private capital, is just as public in its nature as though constructed by the State itself. He shows that the railway is devoted to public use, and subject to be controlled by the State for the public benefit, and that for these reasons the colored man has the same rights upon the railway that he has upon the public highway.

Justice Harlan shows that the same law is applicable to inns that is applicable to railways; that an inn-keeper is bound to take all travelers if he can accommodate them; that he is not to select his guests; that he has not right to say to one "you may come in," and to another "you shall not;" that every one who conducts himself in a proper manner has a right to be received. He shows conclusively that an inn-keeper is a sort of public servant; that he is in the exercise of a quasi public employment, that he is given special privileges, and charged with duties of a public character.

As to theatres, I think his argument most happy. It is this: Theatres are licensed by law. The authority to maintain them comes from the public. The colored race being a part of the public, representing the power granting the license, why should the colored people license a manager to open his doors to the white man and shut them in the face of the black man? Why should they be compelled to license that which they are not permitted to enjoy? Justice Harlan shows that Congress has the power to prevent discrimination on account of race or color on railways, at inns, and in places of public amusements, and has this power under the Thirteenth Amendment.

In discussing the Fourteenth Amendment, Justice Harlan points out that a prohibition upon a State is not a power in Congress or the National Government, but is simply a denial of power to the State; that such was the Constitution before the Fourteenth Amendment. He shows, however, that the Fourteenth Amendment presents the first instance in our history of the investiture of Congress with affirmative power by legislation to enforce an express prohibition upon the States. This is an important point. It is stated with great clearness, and defended with great force. He shows that the first clause of the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment is of a distinctly affirmative character, and that Congress would have had the power to legislate directly as to that section simply by implication, but that as to that as well as the express prohibitions upon the States, express power to legislate was given.

There is one other point made by Justice Harlan which transfixes as with a spear the decision of the Court. It is this: As soon as the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments were adopted the colored citizen was entitled to the protection of section two, article four, namely: "The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens of the several States." Now, suppose a colored citizen of Mississippi moves to Tennessee. Then, under the section last quoted, he would immediately become invested with all the privileges and immunities of a white citizen of Tennessee. Although denied these privileges and immunities in the State from which he emigrated, in the State to which he immigrates he could not be discriminated against on account of his color under the second section of the fourth article. Now, is it possible that he gets additional rights by immigration? Is it possible that the General Government is under a greater obligation to protect him in a State of which he is not a citizen than in a State of which he is a citizen? Must he leave home for protection, and after he has lived long enough in the State to which he immigrates to become a citizen there, must he again move in order to protect his rights? Must one adopt the doctrine of peripatetic protection—the doctrine that the Constitution is good only in transitu, and that when the citizen stops, the Constitution goes on and leaves him without protection?

Justice Harlan shows that Congress had the right to legislate directly while that power was only implied, but that the moment this power was conferred in express terms, then according to the Supreme Court, it was lost.

There is another splendid definition given by Justice Harlan—a line drawn as broad as the Mississippi. It is the distinction between the rights conferred by a State and rights conferred by the Nation. Admitting that many rights conferred by a State cannot be enforced directly by Congress, Justice Harlan shows that rights granted by the Nation to an individual may be protected by direct legislation. This is a distinction that should not be forgotten, and it is a definition clear and perfect.

Justice Harlan has shown that the Supreme Court failed to take into consideration the intention of the framers of the amendment; failed to see that the powers of Congress were given by express terms and did not rest upon implication; failed to see that the Thirteenth Amendment was broad enough to cover the Civil Rights Act; failed to see that under the three amendments rights and privileges were conferred by the Nation on citizens of the several States, and that these rights are under the perpetual protection of the General Government, and that for their enforcement Congress has the right to legislate directly; failed to see that all implications are now in favor of liberty instead of slavery; failed to comprehend that we have a new nation with a new foundation, with different objects, ends, and aims, for the attainment of which we use different means and have been clothed with greater powers; failed to see that the Republic changed front; failed to appreciate the real reasons for the adoption of the amendments, and failed to understand that the Civil Rights Act was passed in order that a citizen of the United States might appeal from local prejudice to national justice.

Justice Harlan shows that it was the object to accomplish for the black man what had been accomplished for the white man—that is, to protect all their rights as free men and citizens; and that the one underlying purpose of the amendments and of the congressional legislation has been to clothe the black race with all the rights of citizenship, and to compel a recognition of their rights by citizens and States—that the object was to do away with class tyranny, the meanest and basest form of oppression.

If Justice Harlan was wrong in his position, then, it may truthfully be said of the three amendments that:

  "The law hath bubbles as the water has,
   And these are of them."

The decision of the Supreme Court denies the protection of the Nation to the citizens of the Nation. That decision has already borne fruit—the massacre at Danville. The protection of the Nation having been withdrawn, the colored man was left to the mercy of local prejudices and hatreds. He is without appeal, without redress. The Supreme Court tells him that he must depend upon his enemies for justice.

Question. You seem to agree with all that Justice Harlan has said, and to have the greatest admiration for his opinion?

Answer. Yes, a man rises from reading this dissenting opinion refreshed, invigorated, and strengthened. It is a mental and moral tonic. It was produced after a clear head had held conference with a good heart. It will furnish a perfectly clear plank, without knot or wind-shake, for the next Republican platform. It is written in good plain English, and ornamented with good sound sense. The average man can and will understand its every word. There is no subterfuge in it.

Each position is taken in the open field. There is no resort to quibbles or technicalities—no hiding. Nothing is secreted in the sleeve—no searching for blind paths—no stooping and looking for ancient tracks, grass-grown and dim. Each argument travels the highway—"the big road." It is logical. The facts and conclusions agree, and fall naturally into line of battle. It is sincere and candid—unpretentious and unanswerable. It is a grand defence of human rights—a brave and manly plea for universal justice. It leaves the decision of the Supreme Court without argument, without reason, and without excuse. Such an exhibition of independence, courage and ability has won for Justice Harlan the respect and admiration of "both sides," and places him in the front rank of constitutional lawyers.

The Inter-Ocean, Chicago, Illinois, November 29, 1883.


Question. What is your opinion of Brewster's administration?

Answer. I hardly think I ought to say much about the administration of Mr. Brewster. Of course many things have been done that I thought, and still think, extremely bad; but whether Mr. Brewster was responsible for the things done, or not, I do not pretend to say. When he was appointed to his present position, there was great excitement in the country about the Star Route cases, and Mr. Brewster was expected to prosecute everybody and everything to the extent of the law; in fact, I believe he was appointed by reason of having made such a promise. At that time there were hundreds of people interested in exaggerating all the facts connected with the Star Route cases, and when there were no facts to be exaggerated, they made some, and exaggerated them afterward. It may be that the Attorney-General was misled, and he really supposed that all he heard was true. My objection to the administration of the Department of Justice is, that a resort was had to spies and detectives. The battle was not fought in the open field. Influences were brought to bear. Nearly all departments of the Government were enlisted. Everything was done to create a public opinion in favor of the prosecution. Everything was done that the cases might be decided on prejudice instead of upon facts.

Everything was done to demoralize, frighten and overawe judges, witnesses and jurors. I do not pretend to say who was responsible, possibly I am not an impartial judge. I was deeply interested at the time, and felt all of these things, rather than reasoned about them.

Possibly I cannot give a perfectly unbiased opinion. Personally,
I have no feeling now upon the subject.

The Department of Justice, in spite of its methods, did not succeed. That was enough for me. I think, however, when the country knows the facts, that the people will not approve of what was done. I do not believe in trying cases in the newspapers before they are submitted to jurors. That is a little too early. Neither do I believe in trying them in the newspapers after the verdicts have been rendered. That is a little too late.

Question. What are Mr. Blaine's chances for the presidency?

Answer. My understanding is that Mr. Blaine is not a candidate for the nomination; that he does not wish his name to be used in that connection. He ought to have been nominated in 1876, and if he were a candidate, he would probably have the largest following; but my understanding is, that he does not, in any event, wish to be a candidate. He is a man perfectly familiar with the politics of this country, knows its history by heart, and is in every respect probably as well qualified to act as its Chief Magistrate as any man in the nation. He is a man of ideas, of action, and has positive qualities. He would not wait for something to turn up, and things would not have to wait long for him to turn them up.

Question. Who do you think will be nominated at Chicago?

Answer. Of course I have not the slightest idea who will be nominated. I may have an opinion as to who ought to be nominated, and yet I may be greatly mistaken in that opinion. There are hundreds of men in the Republican party, any one of whom, if elected, would make a good, substantial President, and there are many thousands of men about whom I know nothing, any one of whom would in all probability make a good President. We do not want any man to govern this country. This country governs itself. We want a President who will honestly and faithfully execute the laws, who will appoint postmasters and do the requisite amount of handshaking on public occasions, and we have thousands of men who can discharge the duties of that position. Washington is probably the worst place to find out anything definite upon the subject of presidential booms. I have thought for a long time that one of the most valuable men in the country was General Sherman. Everybody knows who and what he is. He has one great advantage—he is a frank and outspoken man. He has opinions and he never hesitates about letting them be known. There is considerable talk about Judge Harlan. His dissenting opinion in the Civil Rights case has made every colored man his friend, and I think it will take considerable public patronage to prevent a good many delegates from the Southern States voting for him.

Question. What are your present views on theology?

Answer. Well, I think my views have not undergone any change that I know of. I still insist that observation, reason and experience are the things to be depended upon in this world. I still deny the existence of the supernatural. I still insist that nobody can be good for you, or bad for you; that you cannot be punished for the crimes of others, nor rewarded for their virtues. I still insist that the consequences of good actions are always good, and those of bad actions always bad. I insist that nobody can plant thistles and gather figs; neither can they plant figs and gather thistles. I still deny that a finite being can commit an infinite sin; but I continue to insist that a God who would punish a man forever is an infinite tyrant. My views have undergone no change, except that the evidence of that truth constantly increases, and the dogmas of the church look, if possible, a little absurder every day. Theology, you know, is not a science. It stops at the grave; and faith is the end of theology. Ministers have not even the advantage of the doctors; the doctors sometimes can tell by a post-mortem examination whether they killed the man or not; but by cutting a man open after he is dead, the wisest theologians cannot tell what has become of his soul, and whether it was injured or helped by a belief in the inspiration of the Scriptures. Theology depends on assertion for evidence, and on faith for disciples.

The Tribune, Denver, Colorado, January 17, 1886.


Question. I see that the clergy are still making all kinds of charges against you and your doctrines.

Answer. Yes. Some of the charges are true and some of them are not. I suppose that they intend to get in the vicinity of veracity, and are probably stating my belief as it is honestly misunderstood by them. I admit that I have said and that I still think that Christianity is a blunder. But the question arises, What is Christianity? I do not mean, when I say that Christianity is a blunder, that the morality taught by Christians is a mistake. Morality is not distinctively Christian, any more than it is Mohammedan. Morality is human, it belongs to no ism, and does not depend for a foundation upon the supernatural, or upon any book, or upon any creed. Morality is itself a foundation. When I say that Christianity is a blunder, I mean all those things distinctively Christian are blunders. It is a blunder to say that an infinite being lived in Palestine, learned the carpenter's trade, raised the dead, cured the blind, and cast out devils, and that this God was finally assassinated by the Jews. This is absurd. All these statements are blunders, if not worse. I do not believe that Christ ever claimed that he was of supernatural origin, or that he wrought miracles, or that he would rise from the dead. If he did, he was mistaken—honestly mistaken, perhaps, but still mistaken.

The morality inculcated by Mohammed is good. The immorality inculcated by Mohammed is bad. If Mohammed was a prophet of God, it does not make the morality he taught any better, neither does it make the immorality any better or any worse.

By this time the whole world ought to know that morality does not need to go into partnership with miracles. Morality is based upon the experience of mankind. It does not have to learn of inspired writers, or of gods, or of divine persons. It is a lesson that the whole human race has been learning and learning from experience. He who upholds, or believes in, or teaches, the miraculous, commits a blunder.

Now, what is morality? Morality is the best thing to do under the circumstances. Anything that tends to the happiness of mankind is moral. Anything that tends to unhappiness is immoral. We apply to the moral world rules and regulations as we do in the physical world. The man who does justice, or tries to do so—who is honest and kind and gives to others what he claims for himself, is a moral man. All actions must be judged by their consequences. Where the consequences are good, the actions are good. Where the consequences are bad, the actions are bad; and all consequences are learned from experience. After we have had a certain amount of experience, we then reason from analogy. We apply our logic and say that a certain course will bring destruction, another course will bring happiness. There is nothing inspired about morality—nothing supernatural. It is simply good, common sense, going hand in hand with kindness.

Morality is capable of being demonstrated. You do not have to take the word of anybody; you can observe and examine for yourself. Larceny is the enemy of industry, and industry is good; therefore larceny is immoral. The family is the unit of good government; anything that tends to destroy the family is immoral. Honesty is the mother of confidence; it united, combines and solidifies society. Dishonesty is disintegration; it destroys confidence; it brings social chaos; it is therefore immoral.

I also admit that I regard the Mosaic account of the creation as an absurdity—as a series of blunders. Probably Moses did the best he could. He had never talked with Humboldt or Laplace. He knew nothing of geology or astronomy. He had not the slightest suspicion of Kepler's Three Laws. He never saw a copy of Newton's Principia. Taking all these things into consideration, I think Moses did the best he could.

The religious people say now that "days" did not mean days. Of these "six days" they make a kind of telescope, which you can push in or draw out at pleasure. If the geologists find that more time was necessary they will stretch them out. Should it turn out that the world is not quite as old as some think, they will push them up. The "six days" can now be made to suit any period of time. Nothing can be more childish, frivolous or contradictory.

Only a few years ago the Mosaic account was considered true, and Moses was regarded as a scientific authority. Geology and astronomy were measured by the Mosaic standard. The opposite is now true. The church has changed; and instead of trying to prove that modern astronomy and geology are false, because they do not agree with Moses, it is now endeavoring to prove that the account by Moses is true, because it agrees with modern astronomy and geology. In other words, the standard has changed; the ancient is measured by the modern, and where the literal statement in the Bible does not agree with modern discoveries, they do not change the discoveries, but give new meanings to the old account. We are not now endeavoring to reconcile science with the Bible, but to reconcile the Bible with science.

Nothing shows the extent of modern doubt more than the eagerness with which Christians search for some new testimony. Luther answered Copernicus with a passage of Scripture, and he answered him to the satisfaction of orthodox ignorance.

The truth is that the Jews adopted the stories of Creation, the Garden of Eden, Forbidden Fruit, and the Fall of Man. They were told by older barbarians than they, and the Jews gave them to us.

I never said that the Bible is all bad. I have always admitted that there are many good and splendid things in the Jewish Scriptures, and many bad things. What I insist is that we should have the courage and the common sense to accept the good, and throw away the bad. Evil is not good because found in good company, and truth is still truth, even when surrounded by falsehood.

Question. I see that you are frequently charged with disrespect toward your parents—with lack of reverence for the opinions of your father?

Answer. I think my father and mother upon several religious questions were mistaken. In fact, I have no doubt that they were; but I never felt under the slightest obligation to defend my father's mistakes. No one can defend what he thinks is a mistake, without being dishonest. That is a poor way to show respect for parents. Every Protestant clergyman asks men and women who had Catholic parents to desert the church in which they were raised. They have no hesitation in saying to these people that their fathers and mothers were mistaken, and that they were deceived by priests and popes.

The probability is that we are all mistaken about almost everything; but it is impossible for a man to be respectable enough to make a mistake respectable. There is nothing remarkably holy in a blunder, or praiseworthy in stubbing the toe of the mind against a mistake. Is it possible that logic stands paralyzed in the presence of paternal absurdity? Suppose a man has a bad father; is he bound by the bad father's opinion, when he is satisfied that the opinion is wrong? How good does a father have to be, in order to put his son under obligation to defend his blunders? Suppose the father thinks one way, and the mother the other; what are the children to do? Suppose the father changes his opinion; what then? Suppose the father thinks one way and the mother the other, and they both die when the boy is young; and the boy is bound out; whose mistakes is he then bound to follow? Our missionaries tell the barbarian boy that his parents are mistaken, that they know nothing, and that the wooden god is nothing but a senseless idol. They do not hesitate to tell this boy that his mother believed lies, and hugged, it may be to her dying heart, a miserable delusion. Why should a barbarian boy cast reproach upon his parents?

I believe it was Christ who commanded his disciples to leave father and mother; not only to leave them, but to desert them; and not only to desert father and mother, but to desert wives and children. It is also told of Christ that he said that he came to set fathers against children and children against fathers. Strange that a follower of his should object to a man differing in opinion from his parents! The truth is, logic knows nothing of consanguinity; facts have no relatives but other facts; and these facts do not depend upon the character of the person who states them, or upon the position of the discoverer. And this leads me to another branch of the same subject.

The ministers are continually saying that certain great men—kings, presidents, statesmen, millionaires—have believed in the inspiration of the Bible. Only the other day, I read a sermon in which Carlyle was quoted as having said that "the Bible is a noble book." That all may be and yet the book not be inspired. But what is the simple assertion of Thomas Carlyle worth? If the assertion is based upon a reason, then it is worth simply the value of the reason, and the reason is worth just as much without the assertion, but without the reason the assertion is worthless. Thomas Carlyle thought, and solemnly put the thought in print, that his father was a greater man than Robert Burns. His opinion did Burns no harm, and his father no good. Since reading his "Reminiscences," I have no great opinion of his opinion. In some respects he was undoubtedly a great man, in others a small one.

No man should give the opinion of another as authority and in place of fact and reason, unless he is willing to take all the opinions of that man. An opinion is worth the warp and woof of fact and logic in it and no more. A man cannot add to the truthfulness of truth. In the ordinary business of life, we give certain weight to the opinion of specialists—to the opinion of doctors, lawyers, scientists, and historians. Within the domain of the natural, we take the opinions of our fellow-men; but we do not feel that we are absolutely bound by these opinions. We have the right to re- examine them, and if we find they are wrong we feel at liberty to say so. A doctor is supposed to have studied medicine; to have examined and explored the questions entering into his profession; but we know that doctors are often mistaken. We also know that there are many schools of medicine; that these schools disagree with one another, and that the doctors of each school disagree with one another. We also know that many patients die, and so far as we know, these patients have not come back to tell us whether the doctors killed them or not. The grave generally prevents a demonstration. It is exactly the same with the clergy. They have many schools of theology, all despising each other. Probably no two members of the same church exactly agree. They cannot demonstrate their propositions, because between the premise and the logical conclusion or demonstration, stands the tomb. A gravestone marks the end of theology. In some cases, the physician can, by a post- mortem examination, find what killed the patient, but there is no theological post-mortem. It is impossible, by cutting a body open, to find where the soul has gone; or whether baptism, or the lack of it, had the slightest effect upon final destiny. The church, knowing that there are no facts beyond the coffin, relies upon opinions, assertions and theories. For this reason it is always asking alms of distinguished people. Some President wishes to be re-elected, and thereupon speaks about the Bible as "the corner- stone of American Liberty." This sentence is a mouth large enough to swallow any church, and from that time forward the religious people will be citing that remark of the politician to substantiate the inspiration of the Scriptures.

The man who accepts opinions because they have been entertained by distinguished people, is a mental snob. When we blindly follow authority we are serfs. When our reason is convinced we are freemen. It is rare to find a fully rounded and complete man. A man may be a great doctor and a poor mechanic, a successful politician and a poor metaphysician, a poor painter and a good poet.

The rarest thing in the world is a logician—that is to say, a man who knows the value of a fact. It is hard to find mental proportion. Theories may be established by names, but facts cannot be demonstrated in that way. Very small people are sometimes right, and very great people are sometimes wrong. Ministers are sometimes right.

In all the philosophies of the world there are undoubtedly contradictions and absurdities. The mind of man is imperfect and perfect results are impossible. A mirror, in order to reflect a perfect picture, a perfect copy, must itself be perfect. The mind is a little piece of intellectual glass the surface of which is not true, not perfect. In consequence of this, every image is more or less distorted. The less we know, the more we imagine that we can know; but the more we know, the smaller seems the sum of knowledge. The less we know, the more we expect, the more we hope for, and the more seems within the range of probability. The less we have, the more we want. There never was a banquet magnificent enough to gratify the imagination of a beggar. The moment people begin to reason about what they call the supernatural, they seem to lose their minds. People seem to have lost their reason in religious matters, very much as the dodo is said to have lost its wings; they have been restricted to a little inspired island, and by disuse their reason has been lost.

In the Jewish Scriptures you will find simply the literature of the Jews. You will find there the tears and anguish of captivity, patriotic fervor, national aspiration, proverbs for the conduct of daily life, laws, regulations, customs, legends, philosophy and folly. These books, of course, were not written by one man, but by many authors. They do not agree, having been written in different centuries, under different circumstances. I see that Mr. Beecher has at last concluded that the Old Testament does not teach the doctrine of immortality. He admits that from Mount Sinai came no hope for the dead. It is very curious that we find in the Old Testament no funeral service. No one stands by the dead and predicts another life. In the Old Testament there is no promise of another world. I have sometimes thought that while the Jews were slaves in Egypt, the doctrine of immortality became hateful. They built so many tombs; they carried so many burdens to commemorate the dead; the saw a nation waste its wealth to adorn its graves, and leave the living naked to embalm the dead, that they concluded the doctrine was a curse and never should be taught.

Question. If the Jews did not believe in immortality, how do you account for the allusions made to witches and wizards and things of that nature?

Answer. When Saul visited the Witch of Endor, and she, by some magic spell, called up Samuel, the prophet said: "Why hast thou disquieted me, to call me up?" He did not say: Why have you called me from another world? The idea expressed is: I was asleep, why did you disturb that repose which should be eternal? The ancient Jews believed in witches and wizards and familiar spirits; but they did not seem to think that these spirits had once been men and women. They spoke to them as belonging to another world, a world to which man would never find his way. At that time it was supposed that Jehovah and his angels lived in the sky, but that region was not spoken of as the destined home of man. Jacob saw angels going up and down the ladder, but not the spirits of those he had known. There are two cases where it seems that men were good enough to be adopted into the family of heaven. Enoch was translated, and Elijah was taken up in a chariot of fire. As it is exceedingly cold at the height of a few miles, it is easy to see why the chariot was of fire, and the same fact explains another circumstance—the dropping of the mantle. The Jews probably believed in the existence of other beings—that is to say, in angels and gods and evil spirits —and that they lived in other worlds—but there is no passage showing that they believed in what we call the immortality of the soul.

Question. Do you believe, or disbelieve, in the immortality of the soul?

Answer. I neither assert nor deny; I simply admit that I do not know. Upon that subject I am absolutely without evidence. This is the only world that I was ever in. There may be spirits, but I have never met them, and do not know that I would recognize a spirit. I can form no conception of what is called spiritual life. It may be that I am deficient in imagination, and that ministers have no difficulty in conceiving of angels and disembodied souls. I have not the slightest idea how a soul looks, what shape it is, how it goes from one place to another, whether it walks or flies. I cannot conceive of the immaterial having form; neither can I conceive of anything existing without form, and yet the fact that I cannot conceive of a thing does not prove that the thing does not exist, but it does prove that I know nothing about it, and that being so, I ought to admit my ignorance. I am satisfied of a good many things that I do not know. I am satisfied that there is no place of eternal torment. I am satisfied that that doctrine has done more harm than all the religious ideas, other than that, have done good. I do not want to take any hope from any human heart. I have no objection to people believing in any good thing—no objection to their expecting a crown of infinite joy for every human being. Many people imagine that immortality must be an infinite good; but, after all, there is something terrible in the idea of endless life. Think of a river that never reaches the sea; of a bird that never folds its wings; of a journey that never ends. Most people find great pleasure in thinking about and in believing in another world. There the prisoner expects to be free; the slave to find liberty; the poor man expects wealth; the rich man happiness; the peasant dreams of power, and the king of contentment. They expect to find there what they lack here. I do not wish to destroy these dreams. I am endeavoring to put out the everlasting fires. A good, cool grave is infinitely better than the fiery furnace of Jehovah's wrath. Eternal sleep is better than eternal pain. For my part I would rather be annihilated than to be an angel, with all the privileges of heaven, and yet have within my breast a heart that could be happy while those who had loved me in this world were in perdition.

I most sincerely hope that the future life will fulfill all splendid dreams; but in the religion of the present day there is no joy. Nothing is so devoid of comfort, when bending above our dead, as the assertions of theology unsupported by a single fact. The promises are so far away, and the dead are so near. From words spoken eighteen centuries ago, the echoes are so weak, and the sounds of the clods on the coffin are so loud. Above the grave what can the honest minister say? If the dead were not a Christian, what then? What comfort can the orthodox clergyman give to the widow of an honest unbeliever? If Christianity is true, the other world will be worse than this. There the many will be miserable, only the few happy; there the miserable cannot better their condition; the future has no star of hope, and in the east of eternity there can never be a dawn.

Question. If you take away the idea of eternal punishment, how do you propose to restrain men; in what way will you influence conduct for good?

Answer. Well, the trouble with religion is that it postpones punishment and reward to another world. Wrong is wrong, because it breeds unhappiness. Right is right, because it tends to the happiness of man. These facts are the basis of what I call the religion of this world. When a man does wrong, the consequences follow, and between the cause and effect, a Redeemer cannot step. Forgiveness cannot form a breastwork between act and consequence.

There should be a religion of the body—a religion that will prevent deformity, that will refuse to multiply insanity, that will not propagate disease—a religion that is judged by its consequences in this world. Orthodox Christianity has taught, and still teaches, that in this world the difference between the good and the bad is that the bad enjoy themselves, while the good carry the cross of virtue with bleeding brows bound and pierced with the thorns of honesty and kindness. All this, in my judgment, is immoral. The man who does wrong carries a cross. There is no world, no star, in which the result of wrong is real happiness. There is no world, no star, in which the result of doing right is unhappiness. Virtue and vice must be the same everywhere.

Vice must be vice everywhere, because its consequences are evil; and virtue must be virtue everywhere, because its consequences are good. There can be no such thing as forgiveness. These facts are the only restraining influences possible—the innocent man cannot suffer for the guilty and satisfy the law.

Question. How do you answer the argument, or the fact, that the church is constantly increasing, and that there are now four hundred millions of Christians?

Answer. That is what I call the argument of numbers. If that argument is good now, it was always good. If Christians were at any time in the minority, then, according to this argument, Christianity was wrong. Every religion that has succeeded has appealed to the argument of numbers. There was a time when Buddhism was in a majority. Buddha not only had, but has more followers then Christ. Success is not a demonstration. Mohammed was a success, and a success from the commencement. Upon a thousand fields he was victor. Of the scattered tribes of the desert, he made a nation, and this nation took the fairest part of Europe from the followers of the cross. In the history of the world, the success of Mohammed is unparalleled, but this success does not establish that he was the prophet of God.

Now, it is claimed that there are some four hundred millions of Christians. To make that total I am counted as a Christian; I am one of the fifty or sixty millions of Christians in the United States—excluding Indians, not taxed. By this census report, we are all going to heaven—we are all orthodox. At the last great day we can refer with confidence to the ponderous volumes containing the statistics of the United States. As a matter of fact, how many Christians are there in the United States—how many believers in the inspiration of the Scriptures—how many real followers of Christ? I will not pretend to give the number, but I will venture to say that there are not fifty millions. How many in England? Where are the four hundred millions found? To make this immense number, they have counted all the Heretics, all the Catholics, all the Jews, Spiritualists, Universalists and Unitarians, all the babes, all the idiotic and insane, all the Infidels, all the scientists, all the unbelievers. As a matter of fact, they have no right to count any except the orthodox members of the orthodox churches. There may be more "members" now than formerly, and this increase of members is due to a decrease of religion. Thousands of members are only nominal Christians, wearing the old uniform simply because they do not wish to be charged with desertion. The church, too, is a kind of social institution, a club with a creed instead of by-laws, and the creed is never defended unless attacked by an outsider. No objection is made to the minister because he is liberal, if he says nothing about it in his pulpit. A man like Mr. Beecher draws a congregation, not because he is a Christian, but because he is a genius; not because he is orthodox, but because he has something to say. He is an intellectual athlete. He is full of pathos and poetry. He has more description than divinity; more charity than creed, and altogether more common sense than theology. For these reasons thousands of people love to hear him. On the other hand, there are many people who have a morbid desire for the abnormal—for intellectual deformities—for thoughts that have two heads. This accounts for the success of some of Mr. Beecher's rivals.

Christians claim that success is a test of truth. Has any church succeeded as well as the Catholic? Was the tragedy of the Garden of Eden a success? Who succeeded there? The last best thought is not a success, if you mean that only that is a success which has succeeded, and if you mean by succeeding, that it has won the assent of the majority. Besides there is no time fixed for the test. Is that true which succeeds to-day, or next year, or in the next century? Once the Copernican system was not a success. There is no time fixed. The result is that we have to wait. A thing to exist at all has to be, to a certain extent, a success. A thing cannot even die without having been a success. It certainly succeeded enough to have life. Presbyterians should remember, while arguing the majority argument, and the success argument, that there are far more Catholics than Protestants, and that the Catholics can give a longer list of distinguished names.

My answer to all this, however, is that the history of the world shows that ignorance has always been in the majority. There is one right road; numberless paths that are wrong. Truth is one; error is many. When a great truth has been discovered, one man has pitted himself against the world. A few think; the many believe. The few lead; the many follow. The light of the new day, as it looks over the window sill of the east, falls at first on only one forehead.

There is another thing. A great many people pass for Christians who are not. Only a little while ago a couple of ladies were returning from church in a carriage. They had listened to a good orthodox sermon. One said to the other: "I am going to tell you something—I am going to shock you—I do not believe in the Bible." And the other replied: "Neither do I."

The News, Detroit, Michigan, January 6, 1884.


Question. What will be the main issues in the next presidential campaign?

Answer. I think that the principal issues will be civil rights and protection for American industries. The Democratic party is not a unit on the tariff question—neither is the Republican; but I think that a majority of the Democrats are in favor of free trade and a majority of Republicans in favor of a protective tariff. The Democratic Congressmen will talk just enough about free trade to frighten the manufacturing interests of the country, and probably not quite enough to satisfy the free traders. The result will be that the Democrats will talk about reforming the tariff, but will do nothing but talk. I think the tariff ought to be reformed in many particulars; but as long as we need to raise a great revenue my idea is that it ought to be so arranged as to protect to the utmost, without producing monopoly in American manufacturers. I am in favor of protection because it multiplies industries; and I am in favor of a great number of industries because they develop the brain, because they give employment to all and allow us to utilize all the muscle and all the sense we have. If we were all farmers we would grow stupid. If we all worked at one kind of mechanic art we would grow dull. But with a variety of industries, with a constant premium upon ingenuity, with the promise of wealth as the reward of success in any direction, the people become intelligent, and while we are protecting our industries we develop our brains. So I am in favor of the protection of civil rights by the Federal Government, and that, in my judgment, will be one of the great issues in the next campaign.

Question. I see that you say that one of the great issues in the coming campaign will be civil rights; what do you mean by that?

Answer. Well, I mean this. The Supreme Court has recently decided that a colored man whose rights are trampled upon, in a State, cannot appeal to the Federal Government for protection. The decision amounts to this: That Congress has no right until a State has acted, and has acted contrary to the Constitution. Now, if a State refuses to do anything upon the subject, what is the citizen to do? My opinion is that the Government is bound to protect its citizens, and as a consideration for this protection, the citizen is bound to stand by the Government. When the nation calls for troops, the citizen of each State is bound to respond, no matter what his State may think. This doctrine must be maintained, or the United States ceases to be a nation. If a man looks to his State for protection, then he must go with his State. My doctrine is, that there should be patriotism upon the one hand, and protection upon the other. If a State endeavors to secede from the Union, a citizen of that State should be in a position to defy the State and appeal to the Nation for protection. The doctrine now is, that the General Government turns the citizen over to the State for protection, and if the State does not protect him, that is his misfortune; and the consequence of this doctrine will be to build up the old heresy of State Sovereignty—a doctrine that was never appealed to except in the interest of thieving or robbery. That doctrine was first appealed to when the Constitution was formed, because they were afraid the National Government would interfere with the slave trade. It was next appealed to, to uphold the Fugitive Slave Law. It was next appealed to, to give the territories of the United States to slavery. Then it was appealed to, to support rebellion, and now out of this doctrine they attempt to build a breastwork, behind which they can trample upon the rights of free colored men.

I believe in the sovereignty of the Nation. A nation that cannot protect its citizens ought to stop playing nation. In the old times the Supreme Court found no difficulty in supporting slavery by "inference," by "intendment," but now that liberty has become national, the Court is driven to less than a literal interpretation. If the Constitution does not support liberty, it is of no use. To maintain liberty is the only legitimate object of human government. I hope the time will come when the judges of the Supreme Court will be elected, say for a period of ten years. I do not believe in the legal monk system. I believe in judges still maintaining an interest in human affairs.

Question. What do you think of the Mormon question?

Answer. I do not believe in the bayonet plan. Mormonism must be done away with by the thousand influences of civilization, by education, by the elevation of the people. Of course, a gentleman would rather have one noble woman than a hundred females. I hate the system of polygamy. Nothing is more infamous. I admit that the Old Testament upholds it. I admit that the patriarchs were mostly polygamists. I admit that Solomon was mistaken on that subject. But notwithstanding the fact that polygamy is upheld by the Jewish Scriptures, I believe it to be a great wrong. At the same time if you undertake to get the idea out of the Mormons by force you will not succeed. I think a good way to do away with that institution would be for all the churches to unite, bear the expense, and send missionaries to Utah; let these ministers call the people together and read to them the lives of David, Solomon, Abraham and other patriarchs. Let all the missionaries be called home from foreign fields and teach these people that they should not imitate the only men with whom God ever condescended to hold intercourse. Let these frightful examples be held up to these people, and if it is done earnestly, it seems to me that the result would be good.

Polygamy exists. All laws upon the subject should take that fact into consideration, and punishment should be provided for offences thereafter committed. The children of Mormons should be legitimized. In other words, in attempting to settle this question, we should accomplish all the good possible, with the least possible harm.

I agree mostly with Mr. Beecher, and I utterly disagree with the Rev. Mr. Newman. Mr. Newman wants to kill and slay. He does not rely upon Christianity, but upon brute force. He has lost his confidence in example, and appeals to the bayonet. Mr. Newman had a discussion with one of the Mormon elders, and was put to ignominious flight; no wonder that he appeals to force. Having failed in argument, he calls for artillery; having been worsted in the appeal to Scripture, he asks for the sword. He says, failing to convert, let us kill; and he takes this position in the name of the religion of kindness and forgiveness.

Strange that a minister now should throw away the Bible and yell for a bayonet; that he should desert the Scriptures and call for soldiers; that he should lose confidence in the power of the Spirit and trust in a sword. I recommend that Mormonism be done away with by distributing the Old Testament throughout Utah.

Question. What do you think of the investigation of the Department of Justice now going on?

Answer. The result, in my judgment, will depend on its thoroughness. If Mr. Springer succeeds in proving exactly what the Department of Justice did, the methods pursued, if he finds out what their spies and detectives and agents were instructed to do, then I think the result will be as disastrous to the Department as beneficial to the country. The people seem to have forgotten that a little while after the first Star Route trial three of the agents of the Department of Justice were indicted for endeavoring to bribe the jury. They forget that Mr. Bowen, an agent of the Department of Justice, is a fugitive, because he endeavored to bribe the foreman of the jury. They seem to forget that the Department of Justice, in order to cover its own tracks, had the foreman of the jury indicted because one of its agents endeavored to bribe him. Probably this investigation will nudge the ribs of the public enough to make people remember these things. Personally, I have no feelings on the subject. It was enough for me that we succeeded in thwarting its methods, in spite of the detectives, spies, and informers.

The Department is already beginning to dissolve. Brewster Cameron has left it, and as a reward has been exiled to Arizona. Mr. Brewster will probably be the next to pack his official valise. A few men endeavored to win popularity by pursuing a few others, and thus far they have been conspicuous failures. MacVeagh and James are to-day enjoying the oblivion earned by misdirected energy, and Mr. Brewster will soon keep them company. The history of the world does not furnish an instance of more flagrant abuse of power. There never was a trial as shamelessly conducted by a government. But, as I said before, I have no feeling now except that of pity.

Question. I see that Mr. Beecher is coming round to your views on theology?

Answer. I would not have the egotism to say that he was coming round to my views, but evidently Mr. Beecher has been growing. His head has been instructed by his heart; and if a man will allow even the poor plant of pity to grow in his heart he will hold in infinite execration all orthodox religion. The moment he will allow himself to think that eternal consequences depend upon human life; that the few short years we live in the world determine for an eternity the question of infinite joy or infinite pain; the moment he thinks of that he will see that it is an infinite absurdity. For instance, a man is born in Arkansas and lives there to be seventeen or eighteen years of age, is it possible that he can be truthfully told at the day of judgment that he had a fair chance? Just imagine a man being held eternally responsible for his conduct in Delaware! Mr. Beecher is a man of great genius—full of poetry and pathos. Every now and then he is driven back by the orthodox members of his congregation toward the old religion, and for the benefit of those weak disciples he will preach what is called "a doctrinal sermon;" but before he gets through with it, seeing that it is infinitely cruel, he utters a cry of horror, and protests with all the strength of his nature against the cruelty of the creed. I imagine that he has always thought that he was under great obligation to Plymouth Church, but the truth is that the church depends upon him; that church gets its character from Mr. Beecher. He has done a vast deal to ameliorate the condition of the average orthodox mind. He excites the envy of the mediocre minister, and he excites the hatred of the really orthodox, but he receives the approbation of good and generous men everywhere. For my part, I have no quarrel with any religion that does not threaten eternal punishment to very good people, and that does not promise eternal reward to very bad people. If orthodox Christianity is true, some of the best people I know are going to hell, and some of the meanest I have ever known are either in heaven or on the road. Of course, I admit that there are thousands and millions of good Christians—honest and noble people, but in my judgment, Mr. Beecher is the greatest man in the world who now occupies a pulpit. * * * * * Speaking of a man's living in Delaware, a young man, some time ago, came up to me on the street, in an Eastern city and asked for money. "What is your business," I asked. "I am a waiter by profession." "Where do you come from?" "Delaware." "Well, what was the matter —did you drink, or cheat your employer, or were you idle?" "No." "What was the trouble?" "Well, the truth is, the State is so small they don't need any waiters; they all reach for what they want."

Question. Do you not think there are some dangerous tendencies in Liberalism?

Answer. I will first state this proposition: The credit system in morals, as in business, breeds extravagance. The cash system in morals, as well as in business, breeds economy. We will suppose a community in which everybody is bound to sell on credit, and in which every creditor can take the benefit of the bankrupt law every Saturday night, and the constable pays the costs. In my judgment that community would be extravagant as long as the merchants lasted. We will take another community in which everybody has to pay cash, and in my judgment that community will be a very economical one. Now, then, let us apply this to morals. Christianity allows everybody to sin on a credit, and allows a man who has lived, we will say sixty-nine years, what Christians are pleased to call a worldly life, an immoral life. They allow him on his death-bed, between the last dose of medicine and the last breath, to be converted, and that man who has done nothing except evil, becomes an angel. Here is another man who has lived the same length of time, doing all the good he possibly could do, but not meeting with what they are pleased to call "a change of heart;" he goes to a world of pain. Now, my doctrine is that everybody must reap exactly what he sows, other things being equal. If he acts badly he will not be very happy; if he acts well he will not be very sad. I believe in the doctrine of consequences, and that every man must stand the consequences of his own acts. It seems to me that that fact will have a greater restraining influence than the idea that you can, just before you leave this world, shift your burden on to somebody else. I am a believer in the restraining influences of liberty, because responsibility goes hand in hand with freedom. I do not believe that the gallows is the last step between earth and heaven. I do not believe in the conversion and salvation of murderers while their innocent victims are in hell. The church has taught so long that he who acts virtuously carries a cross, and that only sinners enjoy themselves, that it may be that for a little while after men leave the church they may go to extremes until they demonstrate for themselves that the path of vice is the path of thorns, and that only along the wayside of virtue grow the flowers of joy. The church has depicted virtue as a sour, wrinkled termagant; an old woman with nothing but skin and bones, and a temper beyond description; and at the same time vice has been painted in all the voluptuous outlines of a Greek statue. The truth is exactly the other way. A thing is right because it pays; a thing is wrong because it does not; and when I use the word "pays," I mean in the highest and noblest sense.

The Daily News, Denver, Colorado, January 17, 1884.


Question. Who will be the Republican nominee for President?

Answer. The correct answer to this question would make so many men unhappy that I have concluded not to give it.

Question. Has not the Democracy injured itself irretrievably by permitting the free trade element to rule it?

Answer. I do not think that the Democratic party weakened itself by electing Carlisle, Speaker. I think him an excellent man, an exceedingly candid man, and one who will do what he believes ought to be done. I have a very high opinion of Mr. Carlisle. I do not suppose any party in this country is really for free trade. I find that all writers upon the subject, no matter which side they are on, are on that side with certain exceptions. Adam Smith was in favor of free trade, with a few exceptions, and those exceptions were in matters where he thought it was for England's interest not to have free trade. The same may be said of all writers. So far as I can see, the free traders have all the arguments and the protectionists all the facts. The free trade theories are splendid, but they will not work; the results are disastrous. We find by actual experiment that it is better to protect home industries. It was once said that protection created nothing but monopoly; the argument was that way, but the facts are not. Take, for instance, steel rails; when we bought them of England we paid one hundred and twenty-five dollars a ton. I believe there was a tariff of twenty-eight or twenty-nine dollars a ton, and yet in spite of all the arguments going to show that protection would simply increase prices in America, would simply enrich the capitalists and impoverish the consumer, steel rails are now produced, I believe, right here in Colorado for forty-two dollars a ton.

After all, it is a question of labor; a question of prices that shall be paid the laboring man; a question of what the laboring man shall eat; whether he shall eat meat or soup made from the bones. Very few people take into consideration the value of raw material and the value of labor. Take, for instance, your ton of steel rails worth forty-two dollars. The iron in the earth is not worth twenty-five cents. The coal in the earth and the lime in the ledge together are not worth twenty-five cents. Now, then, of the forty-two dollars, forty-one and a half is labor. There is not two dollars' worth of raw material in a locomotive worth fifteen thousand dollars. By raw material I mean the material in the earth. There is not in the works of a watch which will sell for fifteen dollars, raw material of the value of one-half cent. All the rest is labor. A ship, a man-of-war that costs one million dollars— the raw material in the earth is not worth, in my judgment, one thousand dollars. All the rest is labor. If there is any way to protect American labor, I am in favor of it. If the present tariff does not do it, then I am in favor of changing to one that will. If the Democratic party takes a stand for free trade or anything like it, they will need protection; they will need protection at the polls; that is to say, they will meet only with defeat and disaster.

Question. What should be done with the surplus revenue?

Answer. My answer to that is, reduce internal revenue taxation until the present surplus is exhausted, and then endeavor so to arrange your tariff that you will not produce more than you need. I think the easiest question to grapple with on this earth is a surplus of money.

I do not believe in distributing it among the States. I do not think there could be a better certificate of the prosperity of our country than the fact that we are troubled with a surplus revenue; that we have the machinery for collecting taxes in such perfect order, so ingeniously contrived, that it cannot be stopped; that it goes right on collecting money, whether we want it or not; and the wonderful thing about it is that nobody complains. If nothing else can be done with the surplus revenue, probably we had better pay some of our debts. I would suggest, as a last resort, to pay a few honest claims.

Question. Are you getting nearer to or farther away from God, Christianity and the Bible?

Answer. In the first place, as Mr. Locke so often remarked, we will define our terms. If by the word "God" is meant a person, a being, who existed before the creation of the universe, and who controls all that is, except himself, I do not believe in such a being; but if by the word God is meant all that is, that is to say, the universe, including every atom and every star, then I am a believer. I suppose the word that would nearest describe me is "Pantheist." I cannot believe that a being existed from eternity, and who finally created this universe after having wasted an eternity in idleness; but upon this subject I know just as little as anybody ever did or ever will, and, in my judgment, just as much. My intellectual horizon is somewhat limited, and, to tell you the truth, this is the only world that I was ever in. I am what might be called a representative of a rural district, and, as a matter of fact, I know very little about the district. I believe it was Confucius who said: "How should I know anything about another world when I know so little of this?"

The greatest intellects of the world have endeavored to find words to express their conception of God, of the first cause, or of the science of being, but they have never succeeded. I find in the old Confession of Faith, in the old Catechism, for instance, this description: That God is a being without body, parts or passions. I think it would trouble anybody to find a better definition of nothing. That describes a vacuum, that is to say, that describes the absence of everything. I find that theology is a subject that only the most ignorant are certain about, and that the more a man thinks, the less he knows.

From the Bible God, I do not know that I am going farther and farther away. I have been about as far as a man could get for many years. I do not believe in the God of the Old Testament.

Now, as to the next branch of your question, Christianity.

The question arises, What is Christianity? I have no objection to the morality taught as a part of Christianity, no objection to its charity, its forgiveness, its kindness; no objection to its hope for this world and another, not the slightest, but all these things do not make Christianity. Mohammed taught certain doctrines that are good, but the good in the teachings of Mohammed is not Mohammedism. When I speak of Christianity I speak of that which is distinctly Christian. For instance, the idea that the Infinite God was born in Palestine, learned the carpenter's trade, disputed with the parsons of his time, excited the wrath of the theological bigots, and was finally crucified; that afterward he was raised from the dead, and that if anybody believes this he will be saved and if he fails to believe it, he will be lost; in other words, that which is distinctly Christian in the Christian system, is its supernaturalism, its miracles, its absurdity. Truth does not need to go into partnership with the supernatural. What Christ said is worth the reason it contains. If a man raises the dead and then says twice two are five, that changes no rule in mathematics. If a multiplication table was divinely inspired, that does no good. The question is, is it correct? So I think that in the world of morals, we must prove that a thing is right or wrong by experience, by analogy, not by miracles. There is no fact in physical science that can be supernaturally demonstrated. Neither is there any fact in the moral world that could be substantiated by miracles. Now, then, keeping in mind that by Christianity I mean the supernatural in that system, of course I am just as far away from it as I can get. For the man Christ I have respect. He was an infidel in his day, and the ministers of his day cried out blasphemy, as they have been crying ever since, against every person who has suggested a new thought or shown the worthlessness of an old one.

Now, as to the third part of the question, the Bible. People say that the Bible is inspired. Well, what does inspiration mean? Did God write it? No; but the men who did write it were guided by the Holy Spirit. Very well. Did they write exactly what the Holy Spirit wanted them to write? Well, religious people say, yes. At the same time they admit that the gentlemen who were collecting, or taking down in shorthand what was said, had to use their own words. Now, we all know that the same words do not have the same meaning to all people. It is impossible to convey the same thoughts to all minds by the same language, and it is for that reason that the Bible has produced so many sects, not only disagreeing with each other, but disagreeing among themselves.

We find, then, that it is utterly impossible for God (admitting that there is one) to convey the same thoughts in human language to all people. No two persons understand the same language alike. A man's understanding depends upon his experience, upon his capacity, upon the particular bent of his mind—in fact, upon the countless influences that have made him what he is. Everything in nature tells everyone who sees it a story, but that story depends upon the capacity of the one to whom it is told. The sea says one thing to the ordinary man, and another thing to Shakespeare. The stars have not the same language for all people. The consequence is that no book can tell the same story to any two persons. The Jewish Scriptures are like other books, written by different men in different ages of the world, hundreds of years apart, filled with contradictions. They embody, I presume, fairly enough, the wisdom and ignorance, the reason and prejudice, of the times in which they were written. They are worth the good that is in them, and the question is whether we will take the good and throw the bad away. There are good laws and bad laws. There are wise and foolish sayings. There are gentle and cruel passages, and you can find a text to suit almost any frame of mind; whether you wish to do an act of charity or murder a neighbor's babe, you will find a passage that will exactly fit the case. So that I can say that I am still for the reasonable, for the natural; and am still opposed to the absurd and supernatural.

Question. Is there any better or more ennobling belief than Christianity; if so, what is it?

Answer. There are many good things, of course, in every religion, or they would not have existed; plenty of good precepts in Christianity, but the thing that I object to more than all others is the doctrine of eternal punishment, the idea of hell for many and heaven for the few. Take from Christianity the doctrine of eternal punishment and I have no particular objection to what is generally preached. If you will take that away, and all the supernatural connected with it, I have no objection; but that doctrine of eternal punishment tends to harden the human heart. It has produced more misery than all the other doctrines in the world. It has shed more blood; it has made more martyrs. It has lighted the fires of persecution and kept the sword of cruelty wet with heroic blood for at least a thousand years. There is no crime that that doctrine has not produced. I think it would be impossible for the imagination to conceive of a worse religion than orthodox Christianity—utterly impossible; a doctrine that divides this world, a doctrine that divides families, a doctrine that teaches the son that he can be happy, with his mother in perdition; the husband that he can be happy in heaven while his wife suffers the agonies of hell. This doctrine is infinite injustice, and tends to subvert all ideas of justice in the human heart. I think it would be impossible to conceive of a doctrine better calculated to make wild beasts of men than that; in fact, that doctrine was born of all the wild beast there is in man. It was born of infinite revenge.

Think of preaching that you must believe that a certain being was the son of God, no matter whether your reason is convinced or not. Suppose one should meet, we will say on London Bridge, a man clad in rags, and he should stop us and say, "My friend, I wish to talk with you a moment. I am the rightful King of Great Britain," and you should say to him, "Well, my dinner is waiting; I have no time to bother about who the King of England is," and then he should meet another and insist on his stopping while the pulled out some papers to show that he was the rightful King of England, and the other man should say, "I have got business here, my friend; I am selling goods, and I have no time to bother my head about who the King of England is. No doubt you are the King of England, but you don't look like him." And then suppose he stops another man, and makes the same statement to him, and the other man should laugh at him and say, "I don't want to hear anything on this subject; you are crazy; you ought to go to some insane asylum, or put something on your head to keep you cool." And suppose, after all, it should turn out that the man was King of England, and should afterward make his claim good and be crowned in Westminster. What would we think of that King if he should hunt up the gentlemen that he met on London Bridge, and have their heads cut off because they had no faith that he was the rightful heir? And what would we think of a God now who would damn a man eighteen hundred years after the event, because he did not believe that he was God at the time he was living in Jerusalem; not only damn the fellows that he met and who did not believe him, but gentlemen who lived eighteen hundred years afterward, and who certainly could have known nothing of the facts except from hearsay?

The best religion, after all, is common sense; a religion for this world, one world at a time, a religion for to-day. We want a religion that will deal in questions in which we are interested. How are we to do away with crime? How are we to do away with pauperism? How are we to do away with want and misery in every civilized country? England is a Christian nation, and yet about one in six in the city of London dies in almshouses, asylums, prisons, hospitals and jails. We, I suppose, are a civilized nation, and yet all the penitentiaries are crammed; there is want on every hand, and my opinion is that we had better turn our attention to this world.

Christianity is charitable; Christianity spends a great deal of money; but I am somewhat doubtful as to the good that is accomplished. There ought to be some way to prevent crime; not simply to punish it. There ought to be some way to prevent pauperism, not simply to relieve temporarily a pauper, and if the ministers and good people belonging to the churches would spend their time investigating the affairs of this world and let the New Jerusalem take care of itself, I think it would be far better.

The church is guilty of one great contradiction. The ministers are always talking about worldly people, and yet, were it not for worldly people, who would pay the salary? How could the church live a minute unless somebody attended to the affairs of this world? The best religion, in my judgment, is common sense going along hand in hand with kindness, and not troubling ourselves about another world until we get there. I am willing for one, to wait and see what kind of a country it will be.

Question. Does the question of the inspiration of Scriptures affect the beauty and benefits of Christianity here and hereafter?

Answer. A belief in the inspiration of the Scriptures has done, in my judgment, great harm. The Bible has been the breastwork for nearly everything wrong. The defenders of slavery relied on the Bible. The Bible was the real auction block on which every negro stood when he was sold. I never knew a minister to preach in favor of slavery that did not take his text from the Bible. The Bible teaches persecution for opinion's sake. The Bible—that is the Old Testament—upholds polygamy, and just to the extent that men, through the Bible, have believed that slavery, religious persecution, wars of extermination and polygamy were taught by God, just to that extent the Bible has done great harm. The idea of inspiration enslaves the human mind and debauches the human heart.

Question. Is not Christianity and the belief in God a check upon mankind in general and thus a good thing in itself?

Answer. This, again, brings up the question of what you mean by Christianity, but taking it for granted that you mean by Christianity the church, then I answer, when the church had almost absolute authority, then the world was the worst.

Now, as to the other part of the question, "Is not a belief in God a check upon mankind in general?" That is owing to what kind of God the man believes in. When mankind believed in the God of the Old Testament, I think that belief was a bad thing; the tendency was bad. I think that John Calvin patterned after Jehovah as nearly as his health and strength would permit. Man makes God in his own image, and bad men are not apt to have a very good God if they make him. I believe it is far better to have a real belief in goodness, in kindness, in honesty and in mankind than in any supernatural being whatever. I do not suppose it would do any harm for a man to believe in a real good God, a God without revenge, a God that was not very particular in having a man believe a doctrine whether he could understand it or not. I do not believe that a belief of that kind would do any particular harm.

There is a vast difference between the God of John Calvin and the
God of Henry Ward Beecher, and a great difference between the God
of Cardinal Pedro Gonzales de Mendoza and the God of Theodore

Question. Well, Colonel, is the world growing better or worse?

Answer. I think better in some respects and worse in others; but on the whole, better. I think that while events, like the pendulum of a clock, go backward and forward, man, like the hands, goes forward. I think there is more reason and less religion, more charity and less creed. I think the church is improving. Ministers are ashamed to preach the old doctrines with the old fervor. There was a time when the pulpit controlled the pews. It is so no longer. The pews know what they want, and if the minister does not furnish it they discharge him and employ another. He is no longer an autocrat; he must bring to the market what his customers are willing to buy.

Question. What are you going to do to be saved?

Answer. Well, I think I am safe, anyway. I suppose I have a right to rely on what Matthew says, that if I will forgive others God will forgive me. I suppose if there is another world I shall be treated very much as I treat others. I never expect to find perfect bliss anywhere; maybe I should tire of it if I should. What I have endeavored to do has been to put out the fires of an ignorant and cruel hell; to do what I could to destroy that dogma; to destroy the doctrine that makes the cradle as terrible as the coffin.

The Denver Republican, Denver, Colorado, January 17, 1884.


Question. I suppose that your attention has been called to the excitement in England over the oath question, and you have probably wondered that so much should have been made of so little?

Answer. Yes; I have read a few articles upon the subject, including one by Cardinal Newman. It is wonderful that so many people imagine that there is something miraculous in the oath. They seem to regard it as a kind of verbal fetich, a charm, an "open sesame" to be pronounced at the door of truth, a spell, a kind of moral thumbscrew, by means of which falsehood itself is compelled to turn informer.

The oath has outlived its brother, "the wager of battle." Both were born of the idea that God would interfere for the right and for the truth. Trial by fire and by water had the same origin. It was once believed that the man in the wrong could not kill the man in the right; but, experience having shown that he usually did, the belief gradually fell into disrepute. So it was once thought that a perjurer could not swallow a piece of sacramental bread; but, the fear that made the swallowing difficult having passed away, the appeal to the corsned was abolished. It was found that a brazen or a desperate man could eat himself out of the greatest difficulty with perfect ease, satisfying the law and his own hunger at the same time.

The oath is a relic of barbarous theology, of the belief that a personal God interferes in the affairs of men; that some God protects innocence and guards the right. The experience of the world has sadly demonstrated the folly of that belief. The testimony of a witness ought to be believed, not because it is given under the solemnities of an oath, but because it is reasonable. If unreasonable it ought to be thrown aside. The question ought not to be, "Has this been sworn to?" but, "Is this true?" The moment evidence is tested by the standard of reason, the oath becomes a useless ceremony. Let the man who gives false evidence be punished as the lawmaking power may prescribe. He should be punished because he commits a crime against society, and he should be punished in this world. All honest men will tell the truth if they can; therefore, oaths will have no effect upon them. Dishonest men will not tell the truth unless the truth happens to suit their purpose; therefore, oaths will have no effect upon them. We punish them, not for swearing to a lie, but for telling it, and we can make the punishment for telling the falsehood just as severe as we wish. If they are to be punished in another world, the probability is that the punishment there will be for having told the falsehood here. After all, a lie is made no worse by an oath, and the truth is made no better.

Question. You object then to the oath. Is your objection based on any religious grounds, or on any prejudice against the ceremony because of its religious origin; or what is your objection?

Answer. I care nothing about the origin of the ceremony. The objection to the oath is this: It furnishes a falsehood with a letter of credit. It supplies the wolf with sheep's clothing and covers the hands of Jacob with hair. It blows out the light, and in the darkness Leah is taken for Rachel. It puts upon each witness a kind of theological gown. This gown hides the moral rags of the depraved wretch as well as the virtues of the honest man. The oath is a mask that falsehood puts on, and for a moment is mistaken for truth. It gives to dishonesty the advantage of solemnity. The tendency of the oath is to put all testimony on an equality. The obscure rascal and the man of sterling character both "swear," and jurors who attribute a miraculous quality to the oath, forget the real difference in the men, and give about the same weight to the evidence of each, because both were "sworn." A scoundrel is delighted with the opportunity of going through a ceremony that gives importance and dignity to his story, that clothes him for the moment with respectability, loans him the appearance of conscience, and gives the ring of true coin to the base metal. To him the oath is a shield. He is in partnership, for a moment, with God, and people who have no confidence in the witness credit the firm.

Question. Of course you know the religionists insist that people are more likely to tell the truth when "sworn," and that to take away the oath is to destroy the foundation of testimony?

Answer. If the use of the oath is defended on the ground that religious people need a stimulus to tell the truth, then I am compelled to say that religious people have been so badly educated that they mistake the nature of the crime.

They should be taught that to defeat justice by falsehood is the real offence. Besides, fear is not the natural foundation of virtue. Even with religious people fear cannot always last. Ananias and Sapphira have been dead so long, and since their time so many people have sworn falsely without affecting their health that the fear of sudden divine vengeance no longer pales the cheek of the perjurer. If the vengeance is not sudden, then, according to the church, the criminal will have plenty of time to repent; so that the oath no longer affects even the fearful. Would it not be better for the church to teach that telling the falsehood is the real crime, and that taking the oath neither adds to nor takes from its enormity? Would it not be better to teach that he who does wrong must suffer the consequences, whether God forgives him or not?

He who tries to injure another may or may not succeed, but he cannot by any possibility fail to injure himself. Men should be taught that there is no difference between truth-telling and truth-swearing. Nothing is more vicious than the idea that any ceremony or form of words—hand-lifting or book-kissing—can add, even in the slightest degree, to the perpetual obligation every human being is under to speak the truth.

The truth, plainly told, naturally commends itself to the intelligent. Every fact is a genuine link in the infinite chain, and will agree perfectly with every other fact. A fact asks to be inspected, asks to be understood. It needs no oath, no ceremony, no supernatural aid. It is independent of all the gods. A falsehood goes in partnership with theology, and depends on the partner for success.

To show how little influence for good has been attributed to the oath, it is only necessary to say that for centuries, in the Christian world, no person was allowed to testify who had the slightest pecuniary interest in the result of a suit.

The expectation of a farthing in this world was supposed to outweigh the fear of God's wrath in the next. All the pangs, pains, and penalties of perdition were considered as nothing when compared with pounds, shillings and pence in this world.

Question. You know that in nearly all deliberative bodies—in parliaments and congresses—an oath or an affirmation is required to support what is called the Constitution; and that all officers are required to swear or affirm that they will discharge their duties; do these oaths and affirmations, in your judgment, do any good?

Answer. Men have sought to make nations and institutions immortal by oaths. Subjects have sworn to obey kings, and kings have sworn to protect subjects, and yet the subjects have sometimes beheaded a king; and the king has often plundered the subjects. The oaths enabled them to deceive each other. Every absurdity in religion, and all tyrannical institutions, have been patched, buttressed, and reinforced by oaths; and yet the history of the world shows the utter futility of putting in the coffin of an oath the political and religious aspirations of the race.

Revolutions and reformations care little for "So help me God." Oaths have riveted shackles and sanctified abuses. People swear to support a constitution, and they will keep the oath as long as the constitution supports them. In 1776 the colonists cared nothing for the fact that they had sworn to support the British crown. All the oaths to defend the Constitution of the United States did not prevent the Civil War. We have at last learned that States may be kept together for a little time, by force; permanently only by mutual interests. We have found that the Delilah of superstition cannot bind with oaths the secular Samson.

Why should a member of Parliament or of Congress swear to maintain the Constitution? If he is a dishonest man, the oath will have no effect; if he is an honest patriot, it will have no effect. In both cases it is equally useless. If a member fails to support the Constitution the probability is that his constituents will treat him as he does the Constitution. In this country, after all the members of Congress have sworn or affirmed to defend the Constitution, each political party charges the other with a deliberate endeavor to destroy that "sacred instrument." Possibly the political oath was invented to prevent the free and natural development of a nation. Kings and nobles and priests wished to retain the property they had filched and clutched, and for that purpose they compelled the real owners to swear that they would support and defend the law under color of which the theft and robbery had been accomplished.

So, in the church, creeds have been protected by oaths. Priests and laymen solemnly swore that they would, under no circumstances, resort to reason; that they would overcome facts by faith, and strike down demonstrations with the "sword of the spirit." Professors of the theological seminary at Andover, Massachusetts, swear to defend certain dogmas and to attack others. They swear sacredly to keep and guard the ignorance they have. With them, philosophy leads to perjury, and reason is the road to crime. While theological professors are not likely to make an intellectual discovery, still it is unwise, by taking an oath, to render that certain which is only improbable.

If all witnesses sworn to tell the truth, did so, if all members of Parliament and of Congress, in taking the oath, became intelligent, patriotic, and honest, I should be in favor of retaining the ceremony; but we find that men who have taken the same oath advocate opposite ideas, and entertain different opinions, as to the meaning of constitutions and laws. The oath adds nothing to their intelligence; does not even tend to increase their patriotism, and certainly does not make the dishonest honest.

Question. Are not persons allowed to testify in the United States whether they believe in future rewards and punishments or not?

Answer. In this country, in most of the States, witnesses are allowed to testify whether they believe in perdition and paradise or not. In some States they are allowed to testify even if they deny the existence of God. We have found that religious belief does not compel people to tell the truth, and than an utter denial of every Christian creed does not even tend to make them dishonest. You see, a religious belief does not affect the senses. Justice should not shut any door that leads to truth. No one will pretend that, because you do not believe in hell, your sight is impaired, or your hearing dulled, or your memory rendered less retentive. A witness in a court is called upon to tell what he has seen, what he has heard, what he remembers, not what he believes about gods and devils and hells and heavens. A witness substantiates not a faith, but a fact. In order to ascertain whether a witness will tell the truth, you might with equal propriety examine him as to his ideas about music, painting or architecture, as theology. A man may have no ear for music, and yet remember what he hears. He may care nothing about painting, and yet is able to tell what he sees. So he may deny every creed, and yet be able to tell the facts as he remembers them.

Thomas Jefferson was wise enough so to frame the Constitution of Virginia that no person could be deprived of any civil right on account of his religious or irreligious belief. Through the influence of men like Paine, Franklin and Jefferson, it was provided in the Federal Constitution that officers elected under its authority could swear or affirm. This was the natural result of the separation of church and state.

Question. I see that your Presidents and Governors issue their proclamations calling on the people to assemble in their churches and offer thanks to God. How does this happen in a Government where church and state are not united?

Answer. Jefferson, when President, refused to issue what is known as the "Thanksgiving Proclamation," on the ground that the Federal Government had no right to interfere in religious matters; that the people owed no religious duties to the Government; that the Government derived its powers, not from priests or gods, but from the people, and was responsible alone to the source of its power. The truth is, the framers of our Constitution intended that the Government should be secular in the broadest and best sense; and yet there are thousands and thousands of religious people in this country who are greatly scandalized because there is no recognition of God in the Federal Constitution; and for several years a great many ministers have been endeavoring to have the Constitution amended so as to recognize the existence of God and the divinity of Christ. A man by the name of Pollock was once superintendent of the mint of Philadelphia. He was almost insane about having God in the Constitution. Failing in that, he got the inscription on our money, "In God we Trust." As our silver dollar is now, in fact, worth only eighty-five cents, it is claimed that the inscription means that we trust in God for the other fifteen cents.

There is a constant effort on the part of many Christians to have their religion in some way recognized by law. Proclamations are now issued calling upon the people to give thanks, and directing attention to the fact that, while God has scourged or neglected other nations, he has been remarkably attentive to the wants and wishes of the United States. Governors of States issue these documents written in a tone of pious insincerity. The year may or may not have been prosperous, yet the degree of thankfulness called for is always precisely the same.

A few years ago the Governor of Iowa issued an exceedingly rhetorical proclamation, in which the people were requested to thank God for the unparalleled blessings he had showered upon them. A private citizen, fearing that the Lord might be misled by official correspondence, issued his proclamation, in which he recounted with great particularity the hardships of the preceding year. He insisted that the weather had been of the poorest quality; that the spring came late, and the frost early; that the people were in debt; that the farms were mortgaged; that the merchants were bankrupt; and that everything was in the worst possible condition. He concluded by sincerely hoping that the Lord would pay no attention to the proclamation of the Governor, but would, if he had any doubt on the subject, come down and examine the State for himself.

These proclamations have always appeared to me absurdly egotistical. Why should God treat us any better than he does the rest of his children? Why should he send pestilence and famine to China, and health and plenty to us? Why give us corn, and Egypt cholera? All these proclamations grow out of egotism and selfishness, of ignorance and superstition, and are based upon the idea that God is a capricious monster; that he loves flattery; that he can be coaxed and cajoled.

The conclusion of the whole matter with me is this: For truth in courts we must depend upon the trained intelligence of judges, the right of cross-examination, the honesty and common sense of jurors, and upon an enlightened public opinion. As for members of Congress, we will trust to the wisdom and patriotism, not only of the members, but of their constituents. In religion we will give to all the luxury of absolute liberty.

The alchemist did not succeed in finding any stone the touch of which transmuted baser things to gold; and priests have not invented yet an oath with power to force from falsehood's desperate lips the pearl of truth.

Secular Review, London, England, 1884.


Question. Are you seeking to quit public lecturing on religious questions?

Answer. As long as I live I expect now and then to say my say against the religious bigotry and cruelty of the world. As long as the smallest coal is red in hell I am going to keep on. I never had the slightest idea of retiring. I expect the church to do the retiring.

Question. What do you think of Wendell Phillips as an orator?

Answer. He was a very great orator—one of the greatest that the world has produced. He rendered immense service in the cause of freedom. He was in the old days the thunderbolt that pierced the shield of the Constitution. One of the bravest soldiers that ever fought for human rights was Wendell Phillips.

Question. What do you think of the action of Congress on Fitz John Porter?

Answer. I think Congress did right. I think they should have taken this action long before. There was a question of his guilt, and he should have been given the benefit of a doubt. They say he could have defeated Longstreet. There are some people, you know, who would have it that an army could be whipped by a good general with six mules and a blunderbuss. But we do not regard those people. They know no more about it than a lady who talked to me about Porter's case. She argued the question of Porter's guilt for half an hour. I showed her where she was all wrong. When she found she was beaten she took refuge with "Oh, well, anyhow he had no genius." Well, if every man is to be shot who has no genius, I want to go into the coffin business.

Question. What, in your judgment, is necessary to be done to insure Republican success this fall?

Answer. It is only necessary for the Republican party to stand by its principles. We must be in favor of protecting American labor not only, but of protecting American capital, and we must be in favor of civil rights, and must advocate the doctrine that the Federal Government must protect all citizens. I am in favor of a tariff, not simply to raise a revenue—that I regard as incidental. The Democrats regard protection as incidental. The two principles should be, protection to American industry and protection to American citizens. So that, after all, there is but one issue—protection. As a matter of fact, that is all a government is for—to protect. The Republican party is stronger to-day than it was four years ago. The Republican party stands for the progressive ideas of the American people. It has been said that the administration will control the Southern delegates. I do not believe it. This administration has not been friendly to the Southern Republicans, and my opinion is there will be as much division in the Southern as in the Northern States. I believe Blaine will be a candidate, and I do not believe the Prohibitionists will put a ticket in the field, because they have no hope of success.

Question. What do you think generally of the revival of the bloody shirt? Do you think the investigations of the Republicans of the Danville and Copiah massacres will benefit them?

Answer. Well, I am in favor of the revival of that question just as often as a citizen of the Republic is murdered on account of his politics. If the South is sick of that question, let it stop persecuting men because they are Republicans. I do not believe, however, in simply investigating the question and then stopping after the guilty ones are found. I believe in indicting them, trying them, and convicting them. If the Government can do nothing except investigate, we might as well stop, and admit that we have no government. Thousands of people think that it is almost vulgar to take the part of the poor colored people in the South. What part should you take if not that of the weak? The strong do not need you. And I can tell the Southern people now, that as long as they persecute for opinion's sake they will never touch the reins of political power in this country.

Question. How do you regard the action of Bismarck in returning the Lasker resolutions? Was it the result of his hatred of the Jews?

Answer. Bismarck opposed a bill to do away with the disabilities of the Jews on the ground that Prussia is a Christian nation, founded for the purpose of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. I presume that it was his hatred of the Jews that caused him to return the resolutions. Bismarck should have lived several centuries ago. He belongs to the Dark Ages. He is a believer in the sword and the bayonet—in brute force. He was loved by Germany simply because he humiliated France. Germany gave her liberty for revenge. It is only necessary to compare Bismarck with Gambetta to see what a failure he really is. Germany was victorious and took from France the earnings of centuries; and yet Germany is to-day the least prosperous nation in Europe. France was prostrate, trampled into the earth, robbed, and yet, guided by Gambetta, is to-day the most prosperous nation in Europe. This shows the difference between brute force and brain.

The Times, Chicago, Illinois, February 21, 1884.


Question. Do you enjoy lecturing?

Answer. Of course I enjoy lecturing. It is a great pleasure to drive the fiend of fear out of the hearts of men women and children. It is a positive joy to put out the fires of hell.

Question. Where do you meet with the bitterest opposition?

Answer. I meet with the bitterest opposition where the people are the most ignorant, where there is the least thought, where there are the fewest books. The old theology is becoming laughable. Very few ministers have the impudence to preach in the old way. They give new meanings to old words. They subscribe to the same creed, but preach exactly the other way. The clergy are ashamed to admit that they are orthodox, and they ought to be.

Question. Do liberal books, such as the works of Paine and Infidel scientists sell well?

Answer. Yes, they are about the only books on serious subjects that do sell well. The works of Darwin, Buckle, Draper, Haeckel, Tyndall, Humboldt and hundreds of others, are read by intelligent people the world over. Works of a religious character die on the shelves. The people want facts. They want to know about the world, about all forms of life. They want the mysteries of every day solved. They want honest thoughts about sensible questions. They are tired of the follies of faith and the falsehoods of superstition. They want a heaven here. In a few years the old theological books will be sold to make paper on which to print the discoveries of science.

Question. In what section of the country do you find the most liberality?

Answer. I find great freedom of thought in Boston, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, in fact, all over what we call the North. The West of course is liberal. The truth is that all the intelligent part of the country is liberal. The railroad, the telegraph, the daily paper, electric light, the telephone, and freedom of thought belong together.

Question. Is it true that you were once threatened with a criminal prosecution for libel on religion?

Answer. Yes, in Delaware. Chief Justice Comegys instructed the grand jury to indict me for blasphemy. I have taken by revenge on the State by leaving it in ignorance. Delaware is several centuries behind the times. It is as bigoted as it is small. Compare Kansas City with Wilmington and you will see the difference between liberalism and orthodoxy.

Question. This is Washington's birthday. What do you think of General Washington?

Answer. I suppose that Washington was what was called religious. He was not very strict in his conduct. He tried to have church and state united in Virginia and was defeated by Jefferson. It should make no difference with us whether Washington was religious or not. Jefferson was by far the greater man. In intellect there was no comparison between Washington and Franklin. I do not prove the correctness of my ideas by names of dead people. I depend upon reason instead of gravestones. One fact is worth a cemetery full of distinguished corpses. We ask not for the belief of somebody, but for evidence, for facts. The church is a beggar at the door of respectability. The moment a man becomes famous, the church asks him for a certificate that the Bible is true. It passes its hat before generals and presidents, and kings while they are alive. It says nothing about thinkers and real philosophers while they live, except to slander them, but the moment they are dead it seeks among their words for a crumb of comfort.

Question. Will Liberalism ever organize in America?

Answer. I hope not. Organization means creed, and creed means petrifaction and tyranny. I believe in individuality. I will not join any society except an anti-society society.

Question. Do you consider the religion of Bhagavat Purana of the East as good as the Christian?

Answer. It is far more poetic. It has greater variety and shows vastly more thought. Like the Hebrew, it is poisoned with superstition, but it has more beauty. Nothing can be more barren than the theology of the Jews and Christians. One lonely God, a heaven filled with thoughtless angels, a hell with unfortunate souls. Nothing can be more desolate. The Greek mythology is infinitely better.

Question. Do you think that the marriage institution is held in less respect by Infidels than by Christians?

Answer. No; there was never a time when marriage was more believed in than now. Never were wives treated better and loved more; never were children happier than now. It is the ambition of the average American to have a good and happy home. The fireside was never more popular than now.

Question. What do you think of Beecher?

Answer. He is a great man, but the habit of his mind and the bent of his early education oppose his heart. He is growing and has been growing every day for many years. He has given up the idea of eternal punishment, and that of necessity destroys it all. The Christian religion is founded upon hell. When the foundation crumbles the fabric falls. Beecher was to have answered my article in the North American Review, but when it appeared and he saw it, he agreed with so much of it that he concluded that an answer would be useless.

The Times, Kansas City, Missouri, February 23, 1884.


Question. Will you take any notice of Mr. Magrath's challenge?

Answer. I do not think it worth while to discuss with Mr. Magrath. I do not say this in disparagement of his ability, as I do not know the gentleman. He may be one of the greatest of men. I think, however, that Mr. Magrath might better answer what I have already said. If he succeeds in that, then I will meet him in public discussion. Of course he is an eminent theologian or he would not think of discussing these questions with anybody. I have never heard of him, but for all that he may be the most intelligent of men.

Question. How have the recently expressed opinions of our local clergy impressed you?

Answer. I suppose you refer to the preachers who have given their opinion of me. In the first place I am obliged to them for acting as my agents. I think Mr. Hogan has been imposed upon. Tacitus is a poor witness—about like Josephus. I say again that we have not a word about Christ written by any human being who lived in the time of Christ—not a solitary word, and Mr. Hogan ought to know it.

The Rev. Mr. Matthews is mistaken. If the Bible proves anything, it proves that the world was made in six days and that Adam and Eve were built on Saturday. The Bible gives the age of Adam when he died, and then gives the ages of others down to the flood, and then from that time at least to the return from the captivity. If the genealogy of the Bible is true it is about six thousand years since Adam was made, and the world is only five days older than Adam. It is nonsense to say that the days were long periods of time. If that is so, away goes the idea of Sunday. The only reason for keeping Sunday given in the Bible is that God made the world in six days and rested on the seventh. Mr. Mathews is not candid. He knows that he cannot answer the arguments I have urged against the Bible. He knows that the ancient Jews were barbarians, and that the Old Testament is a barbarous book. He knows that it upholds slavery and polygamy, and he probably feels ashamed of what he is compelled to preach.

Mr. Jardine takes a very cheerful view of the subject. He expects the light to dawn on the unbelievers. He speaks as though he were the superior of all Infidels. He claims to be a student of the evidences of Christianity. There are no evidences, consequently Mr. Jardine is a student of nothing. It is amazing how dignified some people can get on a small capital.

Mr. Haley has sense enough to tell the ministers not to attempt to answer me. That is good advice. The ministers had better keep still. It is the safer way. If they try to answer what I say, the "sheep" will see how foolish the "shepherds" are. The best way is for them to say, "that has been answered."

Mr. Wells agrees with Mr. Haley. He, too, thinks that silence is the best weapon. I agree with him. Let the clergy keep still; that is the best way. It is better to say nothing than to talk absurdity. I am delighted to think that at last the ministers have concluded that they had better not answer Infidels.

Mr. Woods is fearful only for the young. He is afraid that I will hurt the children. He thinks that the mother ought to stoop over the cradle and in the ears of the babe shout, Hell! So he thinks in all probability that the same word ought to be repeated at the grave as a consolation to mourners.

I am glad that Mr. Mann thinks that I am doing neither good nor harm. This gives me great hope. If I do no harm, certainly I ought not to be eternally damned. It is very consoling to have an orthodox minister solemnly assert that I am doing no harm. I wish I could say as much for him.

The truth is, all these ministers have kept back their real thoughts. They do not tell their doubts—they know that orthodoxy is doomed —they know that the old doctrine excites laughter and scorn. They know that the fires of hell are dying out; that the Bible is ceasing to be an authority; and that the pulpit is growing feebler and feebler every day. Poor parsons!

Question. Would the Catholicism of General Sherman's family affect his chances for the presidency?

Answer. I do not think the religion of the family should have any weight one way or the other. It would make no difference with me; although I hate Catholicism with all my heart, I do not hate Catholics. Some people might be so prejudiced that they would not vote for a man whose wife belongs to the Catholic Church; but such people are too narrow to be consulted. General Sherman says that he wants no office. In that he shows his good sense. He is a great man and a great soldier. He has won laurels enough for one brow. He has the respect and admiration of the nation, and does not need the presidency to finish his career. He wishes to enjoy the honors he has won and the rest he deserves.

Question. What is your opinion of Matthew Arnold?

Answer. He is a man of talent, well educated, a little fussy, somewhat sentimental, but he is not a genius. He is not creative. He is a critic—not an originator. He will not compare with Emerson.

The Journal, Kansas City, Missouri, February 23, 1884.


Question. What is the difference in the parliamentary oath of this country which saves us from such a squabble as they have had in England over the Bradlaugh case?

Answer. Our Constitution provides that a member of Congress may swear or affirm. The consequence is that we can have no such controversy as they have had in England. The framers of our Constitution wished forever to divorce church and state. They knew that it made no possible difference whether a man swore or affirmed, or whether he swore and affirmed to support the Constitution. All the Federal officers who went into the Rebellion had sworn or affirmed to support the Constitution. All that did no good. The entire oath business is a mistake. I think it would be a thousand times better to abolish all oaths in courts of justice. The oath allows a rascal to put on the garments of solemnity, the mask of piety, while he tells a lie. In other words, the oath allows the villain to give falsehood the appearance of truth. I think it would be far better to let each witness tell his story and leave his evidence to the intelligence of the jury and judge. The trouble about an oath is that its tendency is to put all witnesses on an equality; the jury says, "Why, he swore to it." Now, if the oath were abolished, the jury would judge all testimony according to the witness, and then the evidence of one man of good reputation would outweigh the lies of thousands of nobodies.

It was at one time believed that there was something miraculous in the oath, that it was a kind of thumbscrew that would torture the truth out of a rascal, and at one time they believed that if a man swore falsely he might be struck by lightning or paralyzed. But so many people have sworn to lies without having their health impaired that the old superstition has very little weight with the average witness. I think it would be far better to let every man tell his story; let him be cross-examined, let the jury find out as much as they can of his character, of his standing among his neighbors—then weigh his testimony in the scale of reason. The oath is born of superstition, and everything born of superstition is bad. The oath gives the lie currency; it gives it for the moment the ring of true metal, and the ordinary average juror is imposed upon and justice in many instances defeated. Nothing can be more absurd than the swearing of a man to support the Constitution. Let him do what he likes. If he does not support the Constitution, the probability is that his constituents will refuse to support him. Every man who swears to support the Constitution swears to support it as he understands it, and no two understand it exactly alike. Now, if the oath brightened a man's intellect or added to his information or increased his patriotism or gave him a little more honesty, it would be a good thing—but it doesn't. And as a consequence it is a very useless and absurd proceeding. Nothing amuses me more in a court than to see one calf kissing the tanned skin of another.

The Courier, Buffalo, New York, May 19, 1884.


Question. What have you to say in reply to the letter in to- day's Times signed R. H. S.?

Answer. I find that I am accused of "four flagrant wrongs," and while I am not as yet suffering from the qualms of conscience, nor do I feel called upon to confess and be forgiven, yet I have something to say in self-defence.

As to the first objection made by your correspondent, namely, that my doctrine deprives people of the hope that after this life is ended they will meet their fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers, long since passed away, in the land beyond the grave, and there enjoy their company forever, I have this to say: If Christianity is true we are not quite certain of meeting our relatives and friends where we can enjoy their company forever. If Christianity is true most of our friends will be in hell. The ones I love best and whose memory I cherish will certainly be among the lost. The trouble about Christianity is that it is infinitely selfish. Each man thinks that if he can save his own little, shriveled, microscopic soul, that is enough. No matter what becomes of the rest. Christianity has no consolation for a generous man. I do not wish to go to heaven if the ones who have given me joy are to be lost. I would much rather go with them. The only thing that makes life endurable in this world is human love, and yet, according to Christianity, that is the very thing we are not to have in the other world. We are to be so taken up with Jesus and the angels, that we shall care nothing about our brothers and sisters that have been damned. We shall be so carried away with the music of the harp that we shall not even hear the wail of father or mother. Such a religion is a disgrace to human nature.

As to the second objection,—that society cannot be held together in peace and good order without hell and a belief in eternal torment, I would ask why an infinitely wise and good God should make people of so poor and mean a character that society cannot be held together without scaring them. Is it possible that God has so made the world that the threat of eternal punishment is necessary for the preservation of society?

The writer of the letter also says that it is necessary to believe that if a man commits murder here he is destined to be punished in hell for the offence. This is Christianity. Yet nearly every murderer goes directly from the gallows to God. Nearly every murderer takes it upon himself to lecture the assembled multitude who have gathered to see him hanged, and invite them to meet him in heaven. When the rope is about his neck he feels the wings growing. That is the trouble with the Christian doctrine. Every murderer is told he may repent and go to heaven, and have the happiness of seeing his victim in hell. Should heaven at any time become dull, the vein of pleasure can be re-thrilled by the sight of his victim wriggling on the gridiron of God's justice. Really, Christianity leads men to sin on credit. It sells rascality on time and tells all the devils they can have the benefit of the gospel bankrupt act.

The next point in the letter is that I do not preach for the benefit of mankind, but for the money which is the price of blood. Of course it makes no difference whether I preach for money or not. That is to say, it makes no difference to the preached. The arguments I advance are either good or bad. If they are bad they can easily be answered by argument. If they are not they cannot be answered by personalities or by ascribing to me selfish motives. It is not a personal matter. It is a matter of logic, of sense— not a matter of slander, vituperation or hatred. The writer of the letter, R. H. S., may be an exceedingly good person, yet that will add no weight to his or her argument. He or she may be a very bad person, but that would not weaken the logic of the letter, if it had any logic to begin with. It is not for me to say what my motives are in what I do or say; it must be left to the judgment of mankind. I presume I am about as bad as most folks, and as good as some, but my goodness or badness has nothing to do with the question. I may have committed every crime in the world, yet that does not make the story of the flood reasonable, nor does it even tend to show that the three gentlemen in the furnace were not scorched. I may be the best man in the world, yet that does not go to prove that Jonah was swallowed by the whale. Let me say right here that if there is another world I believe that every soul who finds the way to that shore will have an everlasting opportunity to do right—of reforming. My objection to Christianity is that it is infinitely cruel, infinitely selfish, and I might add infinitely absurd. I deprive no one of any hope unless you call the expectation of eternal pain a hope.

Question. Have you read the Rev. Father Lambert's "Notes on Ingersoll," and if so, what have you to say of them or in reply to them?

Answer. I have read a few pages or paragraphs of that pamphlet, and do not feel called upon to say anything. Mr. Lambert has the same right to publish his ideas that I have, and the readers must judge. People who believe his way will probably think that he has succeeded in answering me. After all, he must leave the public to decide. I have no anxiety about the decision. Day by day the people are advancing, and in a little while the sacred superstitions of to-day will be cast aside with the foolish myths and fables of the pagan world.

As a matter of fact there can be no argument in favor of the supernatural. Suppose you should ask if I had read the work of that gentleman who says that twice two are five. I should answer you that no gentleman can prove that twice two are five; and yet this is exactly as easy as to prove the existence of the supernatural. There are no arguments in favor of the supernatural. There are theories and fears and mistakes and prejudices and guesses, but no arguments—plenty of faith, but no facts; plenty of divine revelation, but no demonstration. The supernatural, in my judgment, is a mistake. I believe in the natural.

The Times, Buffalo, New York, May 19, 1884.


[* "If Robert G. Ingersoll indulges in blasphemy to-night in his lecture, as he has in other places and in this city before, he will be arrested before he leaves the city." So spoke Rev. Irwin H. Torrence, General Secretary of the Pennsylvania Bible Society, yesterday afternoon to a Press reporter. "We have consulted counsel; the law is with us, and Ingersoll has but to do what he has done before, to find himself in a cell. Here is the act of March 31, 1860:

"'If any person shall willfully, premeditatedly and despitefully blaspheme or speak loosely and profanely of Almighty God, Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit, or the Scriptures of Truth, such person, on conviction thereof, shall be sentenced to pay a fine not exceeding one hundred dollars, and undergo an imprisonment not exceeding three months, or either, at the discretion of the court.'"

Last evening Colonel Ingersoll sat in the dining room at Guy's
Hotel, just in from New York City. When told of the plans of Mr.
Torrence and his friends, he laughed and said: ]

I did not suppose that anybody was idiotic enough to want me arrested for blasphemy. It seems to me that an infinite Being can take care of himself without the aid of any agent of a Bible society. Perhaps it is wrong for me to be here while the Methodist Conference is in session. Of course no one who differs from the Methodist ministers should ever visit Philadelphia while they are here. I most humbly hope to be forgiven.

Question. What do you think of the law of 1860?

Answer. It is exceedingly foolish. Surely, there is no need for the Legislature of Pennsylvania to protect an infinite God, and why should the Bible be protected by law? The most ignorant priest can hold Darwin up to orthodox scorn. This talk of the Rev. Mr. Torrence shows that my lectures are needed; that religious people do not know what real liberty is. I presume that the law of 1860 is an old one re-enacted. It is a survival of ancient ignorance and bigotry, and no one in the Legislature thought it worth while to fight it. It is the same as the law against swearing, both are dead letters and amount to nothing. They are not enforced and should not be. Public opinion will regulate such matters. If all who take the name of God in vain were imprisoned there would not be room in the jails to hold the ministers. They speak of God in the most flippant and snap-your-fingers way that can be conceived of. They speak to him as though he were an intimate chum, and metaphorically slap him on the back in the most familiar way possible.

Question. Have you ever had any similar experiences before?

Answer. Oh, yes—threats have been made, but I never was arrested. When Mr. Torrence gets cool he will see that he has made a mistake. People in Philadelphia have been in the habit of calling the citizens of Boston bigots—but there is more real freedom of thought and expression in Boston than in almost any other city of the world. I think that as I am to suffer in hell forever, Mr. Torrence ought to be satisfied and let me have a good time here. He can amuse himself through all eternity by seeing me in hell, and that ought to be enough to satisfy, not only an agent, but the whole Bible society. I never expected any trouble in this State, and most sincerely hope that Mr. Torrence will not trouble me and make the city a laughing stock.

Philadelphia has no time to waste in such foolish things. Let the Bible take its chances with other books. Let everybody feel that he has the right freely to express his opinions, provided he is decent and kind about it. Certainly the Christians now ought to treat Infidels as well as Penn did Indians.

Nothing could be more perfectly idiotic than in this day and generation to prosecute any man for giving his conclusions upon any religious subject. Mr. Torrence would have had Huxley and Haeckel and Tyndall arrested; would have had Humboldt and John Stuart Mill and Harriet Martineau and George Eliot locked up in the city jail. Mr. Torrence is a fossil from the old red sandstone of a mistake. Let him rest. To hear these people talk you would suppose that God is some petty king, some Liliputian prince, who was about to be dethroned, and who was nearly wild for recruits.

Question. But what would you do if they should make an attempt to arrest you?

Answer. Nothing, except to defend myself in court.

Philadelphia Press, May 24, 1884.


Question. I understand that there was some trouble in connection with your lecture in Victoria, B. C. What are the facts?

Answer. The published accounts, as circulated by the Associated Press, were greatly exaggerated. The affair was simply this: The authorities endeavored to prevent the lecture. They refused the license, on the ground that the theatre was unsafe, although it was on the ground floor, had many exits and entrances, not counting the windows. The theatre was changed to meet the objections of the fire commissioner, and the authorities expressed their satisfaction and issued the license. Afterward further objection was raised, and on the night of the lecture, when the building was about two- thirds full, the police appeared and said that the lecture would not be allowed to be delivered, because the house was unsafe. After a good deal of talk, the policeman in authority said that there should be another door, whereupon my friends, in a few minutes, made another door with an ax and a saw, the crowd was admitted and the lecture was delivered. The audience was well-behaved, intelligent and appreciative. Beyond some talking in the hall, and the natural indignation of those who had purchased tickets and were refused admittance, there was no disturbance. I understand that those who opposed the lecture are now heartily ashamed of the course pursued.

Question. Are you going to take any part in the campaign?

Answer. It is not my intention to make any political speeches. I have made a good many in the past, and, in my judgment, have done my part. I have no other interest in politics than every citizen should have. I want that party to triumph which, in my judgment, represents the best interests of the country. I have no doubt about the issue of the election. I believe that Mr. Blaine will be the next President. But there are plenty of talkers, and I really think that I have earned a vacation.

Question. What do you think Cleveland's chances are in New York?

Answer. At this distance it is hard to say. The recent action of Tammany complicates matters somewhat. But my opinion is that Blaine will carry the State. I had a letter yesterday from that State, giving the opinion of a gentleman well informed, that Blaine would carry New York by no less than fifty thousand majority.

Question. What figure will Butler cut in the campaign?

Answer. I hardly think that Butler will have many followers on the 4th of November. His forces will gradually go to one side or the other. It is only when some great principle is at stake that thousands of men are willing to vote with a known minority.

Question. But what about the Prohibitionists?

Answer. They have a very large following. They are fighting for something they believe to be of almost infinite consequence, and I can readily understand how a Prohibitionist is willing to be in the minority. It may be well enough for me to say here, that my course politically is not determined by my likes or dislikes of individuals. I want to be governed by principles, not persons. If I really thought that in this campaign a real principle was at stake, I should take part. The only great question now is protection, and I am satisfied that it is in no possible danger.

Question. Not even in the case of a Democratic victory?

Answer. Not even in the event of a Democratic victory. No State in the Union is for free trade. Every free trader has an exception. These exceptions combined, control the tariff legislation of this country, and if the Democrats were in power to-day, with the control of the House and Senate and Executive, the exceptions would combine and protect protection. As long as the Federal Government collects taxes or revenue on imports, just so long these revenues will be arranged to protect home manufactures.

Question. You said that if there were a great principle at stake, you would take part in the campaign. You think, then, that there is no great principle involved?

Answer. If it were a matter of personal liberty, I should take part. If the Republican party had stood by the Civil Rights Bill, I should have taken part in the present campaign.

Question. Still, I suppose we can count on you as a Republican?

Answer. Certainly, I am a Republican.

Evening Post, San Francisco, California, September 16, 1884.


Question. Does Christianity advance or retard civilization?

Answer. If by Christianity you mean the orthodox church, then I unhesitatingly answer that it does retard civilization, always has retarded it, and always will. I can imagine no man who can be benefitted by being made a Catholic or a Presbyterian or a Baptist or a Methodist—or, in other words, by being made an orthodox Christian. But by Christianity I do not mean morality, kindness, forgiveness, justice. Those virtues are not distinctively Christian. They are claimed by Mohammedans and Buddhists, by Infidels and Atheists—and practiced by some of all classes. Christianity consists of the miraculous, the marvelous, and the impossible.

The one thing that I most seriously object to in Christianity is the doctrine of eternal punishment. That doctrine subverts every idea of justice. It teaches the infinite absurdity that a finite offence can be justly visited by eternal punishment. Another serious objection I have is, that Christianity endeavors to destroy intellectual liberty. Nothing is better calculated to retard civilization than to subvert the idea of justice. Nothing is better calculated to retain barbarism than to deny to every human being the right to think. Justice and Liberty are the two wings that bear man forward. The church, for a thousand years, did all within its power to prevent the expression of honest thought; and when the church had power, there was in this world no civilization. We have advanced just in the proportion that Christianity has lost power. Those nations in which the church is still powerful are still almost savage—Portugal, Spain, and many others I might name. Probably no country is more completely under the control of the religious idea than Russia. The Czar is the direct representative of God. He is the head of the church, as well as of the state. In Russia every mouth is a bastille and every tongue a convict. This Russian pope, this representative of God, has on earth his hell (Siberia), and he imitates the orthodox God to the extent of his health and strength.

Everywhere man advances as the church loses power. In my judgment, Ireland can never succeed until it ceases to be Catholic; and there can be no successful uprising while the confessional exists. At one time in New England the church had complete power. There was then no religious liberty. And so we might make a tour of the world, and find that superstition always has been, is, and forever will be, inconsistent with human advancement.

Question. Do not the evidences of design in the universe prove a Creator?

Answer. If there were any evidences of design in the universe, certainly they would tend to prove a designer, but they would not prove a Creator. Design does not prove creation. A man makes a machine. That does not prove that he made the material out of which the machine is constructed. You find the planets arranged in accordance with what you call a plan. That does not prove that they were created. It may prove that they are governed, but it certainly does not prove that they were created. Is it consistent to say that a design cannot exist without a designer, but that a designer can? Does not a designer need a design as much as a design needs a designer? Does not a Creator need a Creator as much as the thing we think has been created? In other words, is not this simply a circle of human ignorance? Why not say that the universe has existed from eternity, as well as to say that a Creator has existed from eternity? And do you not thus avoid at least one absurdity by saying that the universe has existed from eternity, instead of saying that it was created by a Creator who existed from eternity? Because if your Creator existed from eternity, and created the universe, there was a time when he commenced; and back of that, according to Shelley, is "an eternity of idleness."

Some people say that God existed from eternity, and has created eternity. It is impossible to conceive of an act co-equal with eternity. If you say that God has existed forever, and has always acted, then you make the universe eternal, and you make the universe as old as God; and if the universe be as old as God, he certainly did not create it.

These questions of origin and destiny—of infinite gods—are beyond the powers of the human mind. They cannot be solved. We might as well try to travel fast enough to get beyond the horizon. It is like a man trying to run away from his girdle. Consequently, I believe in turning our attention to things of importance—to questions that may by some possibility be solved. It is of no importance to me whether God exists or not. I exist, and it is important to me to be happy while I exist. Therefore I had better turn my attention to finding out the secret of happiness, instead of trying to ascertain the secret of the universe.

I say with regard to God, I do not know; and therefore I am accused of being arrogant and egotistic. Religious papers say that I do know, because Webster told me. They use Webster as a witness to prove the divinity of Christ. They say that Webster was on the God side, and therefore I ought to be. I can hardly afford to take Webster's ideas of another world, when his ideas about this were so bad. When bloodhounds were pursuing a woman through the tangled swamps of the South—she hungry for liberty—Webster took the side of the bloodhounds. Such a man is no authority for me. Bacon denied the Copernican system of astronomy; he is an unsafe guide. Wesley believed in witches; I cannot follow him. No man should quote a name instead of an argument; no man should bring forward a person instead of a principle, unless he is willing to accept all the ideas of that person.

Question. Is not a pleasant illusion preferable to a dreary truth—a future life being in question?

Answer. I think it is. I think that a pleasing illusion is better then a terrible truth, so far as its immediate results are concerned. I would rather think the one I love living, than to think her dead. I would rather think that I had a large balance in bank than that my account was overdrawn. I would rather think I was healthy than to know that I had a cancer. But if we have an illusion, let us have it pleasing. The orthodox illusion is the worst that can possibly be conceived. Take hell out of that illusion, take eternal pain away from that dream, and say that the whole world is to be happy forever—then you might have an excuse for calling it a pleasant illusion; but it is, in fact, a nightmare —a perpetual horror—a cross, on which the happiness of man has been crucified.

Question. Are not religion and morals inseparable?

Answer. Religion and morality have nothing in common, and yet there is no religion except the practice of morality. But what you call religion is simply superstition. Religion as it is now taught teaches our duties toward God—our obligations to the Infinite, and the results of a failure to discharge those obligations. I believe that we are under no obligations to the Infinite; that we cannot be. All our obligations are to each other, and to sentient beings. "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved," has nothing to do with morality. "Do unto other as ye would that others should do unto you" has nothing to do with believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. Baptism has nothing to do with morality. "Pay your honest debts." That has nothing to do with baptism. What is called religion is simple superstition, with which morality has nothing to do.

The churches do not prevent people from committing natural offences, but restrain them from committing artificial ones. As for instance, the Catholic Church can prevent one of its members from eating meat on Friday, but not from whipping his wife. The Episcopal Church can prevent dancing, it may be, in Lent, but not slander. The Presbyterian can keep a man from working on Sunday, but not from practicing deceit on Monday. And so I might go through the churches. They lay the greater stress upon the artificial offences. Those countries that are the most religious are the most immoral. When the world was under the control of the Catholic Church, it reached the very pit of immorality, and nations have advanced in morals just in proportion that they have lost Christianity.

Question. It is frequently asserted that there is nothing new in your objections against Christianity. What is your reply to such assertions?

Answer. Of course, the editors of religious papers will say this; Christians will say this. In my opinion, an argument is new until it has been answered. An argument is absolutely fresh, and has upon its leaves the dew of morning, until it has been refuted. All men have experienced, it may be, in some degree, what we call love. Millions of men have written about it. The subject is of course old. It is only the presentation that can be new. Thousands of men have attacked superstition. The subject is old, but the manner in which the facts are handled, the arguments grouped—these may be forever new. Millions of men have preached Christianity. Certainly there is nothing new in the original ideas. Nothing can be new except the presentation, the grouping. The ideas may be old, but they may be clothed in new garments of passion; they may be given additional human interest. A man takes a fact, or an old subject, as a sculptor takes a rock; the rock is not new. Of this rock he makes a statue; the statue is new. And yet some orthodox man might say there is nothing new about that statue: "I know the man that dug the rock; I know the owner of the quarry." Substance is eternal; forms are new. So in the human mind certain ideas, or in the human heart certain passions, are forever old; but genius forever gives them new forms, new meanings; and this is the perpetual originality of genius.

Question. Do you consider that churches are injurious to the community?

Answer. In the exact proportion that churches teach falsehood; in the exact proportion that they destroy liberty of thought, the free action of the human mind; in the exact proportion that they teach the doctrine of eternal pain, and convince people of its truth—they are injurious. In the proportion that they teach morality and justice, and practice kindness and charity—in that proportion they are a benefit. Every church, therefore, is a mixed problem—part good and part bad. In one direction it leads toward and sheds light; in the other direction its influence is entirely bad.

Now, I would like to civilize the churches, so that they will be able to do good deeds without building bad creeds. In other words, take out the superstitious and the miraculous, and leave the human and the moral.

Question. Why do you not respond to the occasional clergyman who replies to your lectures?

Answer. In the first place, no clergyman has ever replied to my lectures. In the second place, no clergyman ever will reply to my lectures. He does not answer my arguments—he attacks me; and the replies that I have seen are not worth answering. They are far below the dignity of the question under discussion. Most of them are ill-mannered, as abusive as illogical, and as malicious as weak. I cannot reply without feeling humiliated. I cannot use their weapons, and my weapons they do not understand. I attack Christianity because it is cruel, and they account for all my actions by putting behind them base motives. They make it at once a personal question. They imagine that epithets are good enough arguments with which to answer an Infidel. A few years ago they would have imprisoned me. A few years before that they would have burned me. We have advanced. Now they only slander; and I congratulate myself on the fact that even that is not believed. Ministers do not believe each other about each other. The truth has never yet been ascertained in any trial by a church. The longer the trial lasts, the obscurer is the truth. They will not believe each other, even on oath; and one of the most celebrated ministers of this country has publicly announced that there is no use in answering a lie started by his own church; that if he does answer it—if he does kill it—forty more lies will come to the funeral.

In this connection we must remember that the priests of one religion never credit the miracles of another religion. Is this because priests instinctively know priests? Now, when a Christian tells a Buddhist some of the miracles of the Testament, the Buddhist smiles. When a Buddhist tells a Christian the miracles performed by Buddha, the Christian laughs. This reminds me of an incident. A man told a most wonderful story. Everybody present expressed surprise and astonishment, except one man. He said nothing; he did not even change countenance. One who noticed that the story had no effect on this man, said to him: "You do not seem to be astonished in the least at this marvelous tale." The man replied, "No; I am a liar myself."

You see, I am not trying to answer individual ministers. I am attacking the whole body of superstition. I am trying to kill the entire dog, and I do not feel like wasting any time killing fleas on that dog. When the dog dies, the fleas will be out of provisions, and in that way we shall answer them all at once.

So, I do not bother myself answering religious newspapers. In the first place, they are not worth answering; and in the second place, to answer would only produce a new crop of falsehoods. You know, the editor of a religious newspaper, as a rule, is one who has failed in the pulpit; and you can imagine the brains necessary to edit a religious weekly from this fact. I have known some good religious editors. By some I mean one. I do not say that there are not others, but I do say I do not know them. I might add, here, that the one I did know is dead.

Since I have been in this city there have been some "replies" to me. They have been almost idiotic. A Catholic priest asked me how I had the impudence to differ with Newton. Newton, he says, believed in a God; and I ask this Catholic priest how he has the impudence to differ with Newton. Newton was a Protestant. This simply shows the absurdity of using men's names for arguments. This same priest proves the existence of God by a pagan orator. Is it possible that God's last witness died with Cicero? If it is necessary to believe in a God now, the witnesses ought to be on hand now.

Another man, pretending to answer me, quotes Le Conte, a geologist; and according to this geologist we are "getting very near to the splendors of the great white throne." Where is the great white throne? Can any one, by studying geology, find the locality of the great white throne? To what stratum does it belong? In what geologic period was the great white throne formed? What on earth has geology to do with the throne of God?

The truth is, there can be no reply to the argument that man should be governed by his reason; that he should depend upon observation and experience; that he should use the faculties he has for his own benefit, and the benefit of his fellow-man. There is no answer. It is not within the power of man to substantiate the supernatural. It is beyond the power of evidence.

Question. Why do the theological seminaries find it difficult to get students?

Answer. I was told last spring, at New Haven, that the "theologs," as they call the young men there being fitted for the ministry, were not regarded as intellectual by all the other students. The orthodox pulpit has no rewards for genius. It has rewards only for stupidity, for belief—not for investigation, not for thought; and the consequence is that young men of talent avoid the pulpit. I think I heard the other day that of all the students at Harvard only nine are preparing for the ministry. The truth is, the ministry is not regarded as an intellectual occupation. The average church now consists of women and children. Men go to please their wives, or stay at home and subscribe to please their wives; and the wives are beginning to think, and many of them are staying at home. Many of them now prefer the theatre or the opera or the park or the seashore or the forest or the companionship of their husbands and children at home.

Question. How does the religious state of California compare with the rest of the Union?

Answer. I find that sensible people everywhere are about the same, and the proportion of Freethinkers depends on the proportion of sensible folks. I think that California has her full share of sensible people. I find everywhere the best people and the brightest people—the people with the most heart and the best brain—all tending toward free thought. Of course, a man of brain cannot believe the miracles of the Old and New Testaments. A man of heart cannot believe in the doctrine of eternal pain. We have found that other religions are like ours, with precisely the same basis, the same idiotic miracles, the same Christ or Saviour. It will hardly do to say that all others like ours are false, and ours the only true one, when others substantially like it are thousands of years older. We have at last found that a religion is simply an effort on the part of man to account for what he sees, what he experiences, what he feels, what he fears, and what he hopes. Every savage has his philosophy. That is his religion and his science.

The religions of to-day are the sciences of the past; and it may be that the sciences of to-day will be the religions of the future, and that other sciences will be as far beyond them as the science of to-day is beyond the religion of to-day. As a rule, religion is a sanctified mistake, and heresy a slandered fact. In other words, the human mind grows—and as it grows it abandons the old, and the old gets its revenge by maligning the new.

The San Franciscan, San Francisco, October 4, 1884.


Question. Colonel, the fact that you took no part in the late campaign, is a subject for general comment, and knowing your former enthusiastic advocacy and support of Blaine, the people are somewhat surprised, and would like to know why?

Answer. In the first place, it was generally supposed that Blaine needed no help. His friends were perfectly confident. They counted on a very large Catholic support. The Irish were supposed to be spoiling to vote for Blaine and Logan. All the Protestant ministers were also said to be solid for the ticket. Under these circumstances it was hardly prudent for me to say much.

I was for Blaine in 1876. In 1880 I was for Garfield, and in 1884 I was for Gresham or Harlan. I believed then and I believe now that either one of these men could have been elected. Blaine is an exceedingly able man, but he made some mistakes and some very unfortunate utterances. I took no part in the campaign; first, because there was no very important issue, no great principle at stake, and second, I thought that I had done enough, and, third, because I wanted to do something else.

Question. What, in your opinion, were the causes for Blaine's defeat?

Answer. First, because of dissension in the party. Second, because party ties have grown weak. Third, the Prohibition vote. Fourth, the Delmonico dinner—too many rich men. Fifth, the Rev. Dr. Burchard with his Rum, Romanism and Rebellion. Sixth, giving too much attention to Ohio and not enough to New York. Seventh, the unfortunate remark of Mr. Blaine, that "the State cannot get along without the Church." Eighth, the weakness of the present administration. Ninth, the abandonment by the party of the colored people of the South. Tenth, the feeling against monopolies, and not least, a general desire for a change.

Question. What, in your opinion, will be the result of Cleveland's election and administration upon the general political and business interests of the country?

Answer. The business interests will take care of themselves. A dollar has the instinct of self-preservation largely developed. The tariff will take care of itself. No State is absolutely for free trade. In each State there is an exception. The exceptions will combine, as they always have. Michigan will help Pennsylvania take care of iron, if Pennsylvania will help Michigan take care of salt and lumber. Louisiana will help Pennsylvania and Michigan if they help her take care of sugar. Colorado, California and Ohio will help the other States if they will help them about wool—and so I might make a tour of the States, ending with Vermont and maple sugar. I do not expect that Cleveland will do any great harm. The Democrats want to stay in power, and that desire will give security for good behavior.

Question. Will he listen to or grant any demands made of him by the alleged Independent Republicans of New York, either in his appointments or policies?

Answer. Of this I know nothing. The Independents—from what I know of them—will be too modest to claim credit or to ask office. They were actuated by pure principle. They did what they did to purify the party, so that they could stay in it. Now that it has been purified they will remain, and hate the Democratic party as badly as ever. I hardly think that Cleveland would insult their motives by offering loaves and fishes. All they desire is the approval of their own consciences.

The Commonwealth, Topeka, Kansas, November 21, 1884.


Question. How do you account for the defeat of Mr. Blaine?

Answer. How do I account for the defeat of Mr. Blaine? I will answer: St. John, the Independents, Burchard, Butler and Cleveland did it. The truth is that during the war a majority of the people, counting those in the South, were opposed to putting down the Rebellion by force. It is also true that when the Proclamation of Emancipation was issued a majority of the people, counting the whole country, were opposed to it, and it is also true that when the colored people were made citizens a majority of the people, counting the whole country, were opposed to it.

Now, while, in my judgment, an overwhelming majority of the whole people have honestly acquiesced in the result of the war, and are now perfectly loyal to the Union, and have also acquiesced in the abolition of slavery, I doubt very much whether they are really in favor of giving the colored man the right to vote. Of course they have not the power now to take that right away, but they feel anything but kindly toward the party that gave the colored man that right. That is the only result of the war that is not fully accepted by the South and by many Democrats of the North.

Another thing, the Republican party was divided—divided too by personal hatreds. The party was greatly injured by the decision of the Supreme Court in which the Civil Rights Bill was held void. Now, a great many men who kept with the Republican party, did so because they believed that that party would protect the colored man in the South, but as soon as the Court decided that all the laws passed were unconstitutional, these men felt free to vote for the other side, feeling that it would make no difference. They reasoned this way: If the Republican party cannot defend the colored people, why make a pretence that excites hatred on one side and disarms the other? If the colored people have to depend upon the State for protection, and the Federal Government cannot interfere, why say any more about it?

I think that these men made a mistake and our party made a mistake in accepting without protest a decision that was far worse than the one delivered in the case of Dred Scott. By accepting this decision the most important issue was abandoned. The Republican party must take the old ground that it is the duty of the Federal Government to protect the citizens, and that it cannot simply leave that duty to the State. It must see to it that the State performs that duty.

Question. Have you seen the published report that Dorsey claims to have paid you one hundred thousand dollars for your services in the Star Route Cases?

Answer. I have seen the report, but Dorsey never said anything like that.

Question. Is there no truth in the statement, then?

Answer. Well, Dorsey never said anything of the kind.

Question. Then you do not deny that you received such an enormous fee?

Answer. All I say is that Dorsey did not say I did.*

The Commercial, Louisville, Kentucky, October 24, 1884.

[* Col. Ingersoll has been so criticised and maligned for defending Mr. Dorsey in the Star Route cases, and so frequently charged with having received an enormous fee, that I think it but simple justice to his memory to say that he received no such fee, and that the ridiculously small sums he did receive were much more than offset by the amount he had to pay as indorser of Mr. Dorsey's paper. —C. F. FARRELL.]


Question. What have you to say about the charges published in this morning's Herald to the effect that you copied your lecture about "Mistakes of Moses" from a chapter bearing the same title in a book called Hittell's "Evidences against Christianity"?

Answer. All I have to say is that the charge is utterly false. I will give a thousand dollars reward to any one who will furnish a book published before my lecture, in which that lecture can be found. It is wonderful how malicious the people are who love their enemies. This charge is wholly false, as all others of like nature are. I do not have to copy the writings of others. The Christians do not seem to see that they are constantly complimenting me by saying that what I write is so good that I must have stolen it. Poor old orthodoxy!

Question. What is your opinion of the incoming administration, and how will it affect the country?

Answer. I feel disposed to give Cleveland a chance. If he does the fair thing, then it is the duty of all good citizens to say so. I do not expect to see the whole country go to destruction because the Democratic party is in power. Neither do I believe that business is going to suffer on that account. The times are hard, and I fear will be much harder, but they would have been substantially the same if Blaine had been elected. I wanted the Republican party to succeed and fully expected to see Mr. Blaine President, but I believe in making the best of what has happened. I want no office, I want good government—wise legislation. I believe in protection, but I want the present tariff reformed and I hope the Democrats will be wise enough to do so.

Question. How will the Democratic victory affect the colored people in the South?

Answer. Certainly their condition will not be worse than it has been. The Supreme Court decided that the Civil Rights Bill was unconstitutional and that the Federal Government cannot interfere. That was a bad decision and our party made a mistake in not protesting against it. I believe it to be the duty of the Federal Government to protect all its citizens, at home as well as abroad. My hope is that there will be a division in the Democratic party. That party has something now to divide. At last it has a bone, and probably the fighting will commence. I hope that some new issue will take color out of politics, something about which both white and colored may divide. Of course nothing would please me better than to see the Democratic party become great and grand enough to give the colored people their rights.

Question. Why did you not take part in the campaign?

Answer. Well, I was afraid of frightening the preachers away. I might have done good by scaring one, but I did not know Burchard until it was too late. Seriously, I did not think that I was needed. I supposed that Blaine had a walkover, that he was certain to carry New York. I had business of my own to attend to and did not want to interfere with the campaign.

Question. What do you think of the policy of nominating Blaine in 1888, as has been proposed?

Answer. I think it too early to say what will be done in 1888. Parties do not exist for one man. Parties have certain ends in view and they choose men as instruments to accomplish these ends. Parties belong to principles, not persons. No party can afford to follow anybody. If in 1888 Mr. Blaine should appear to be the best man for the party then he will be nominated, otherwise not. I know nothing about any intention to nominate him again and have no idea whether he has that ambition. The Whig party was intensely loyal to Henry Clay and forgot the needs of the country, and allowed the Democrats to succeed with almost unknown men. Parties should not belong to persons, but persons should belong to parties. Let us not be too previous—let us wait.

Question. What do you think of the course pursued by the Rev. Drs. Ball and Burchard?

Answer. In politics the preacher is somewhat dangerous. He has a standard of his own; he has queer ideas of evidence, great reliance on hearsay; he is apt to believe things against candidates, just because he wants to. The preacher thinks that all who differ with him are instigated by the Devil—that their intentions are evil, and that when they behave themselves they are simply covering the poison with sugar. It would have been far better for the country if Mr. Ball had kept still. I do not pretend to say that his intentions were not good. He likely thought it his duty to lift a warning voice, to bawl aloud and to spare not, but I think he made a mistake, and he now probably thinks so himself. Mr. Burchard was bound to say a smart thing. It sounded well, and he allowed his ears to run away with his judgment. As a matter of fact, there is no connection between rum and Romanism. Catholic countries do not use as much alcohol as Protestant. England has far more drunkards than Spain. Scotland can discount Italy or Portugal in good, square drinking. So there is no connection between Romanism and rebellion. Ten times as many Methodists and twenty times as many Baptists went into the Rebellion as Catholics. Thousands of Catholics fought as bravely as Protestants for the preservation of the Union. No doubt Mr. Burchard intended well. He thought he was giving Blaine a battle-cry that would send consternation into the hearts of the opposition. My opinion is that in the next campaign the preachers will not be called to the front. Of course they have the same right to express their views that other people have, but other people have the right to avoid the responsibility of appearing to agree with them. I think though that it is about time to let up on Burchard. He has already unloaded on the Lord.

Question. Do you think Cleveland will put any Southern men in his Cabinet?

Answer. I do. Nothing could be in worse taste than to ignore the section that gave him three-fourths of his vote. The people have put the Democratic party in power. They intended to do what they did, and why should the South not be recognized? Garland would make a good Attorney-General; Lamar has the ability to fill any position in the Cabinet. I could name several others well qualified, and I suppose that two or three Southern men will be in the Cabinet. If they are good enough to elect a President they are good enough to be selected by a President.

Question. What do you think of Mr. Conkling's course?

Answer. Mr. Conkling certainly had the right to keep still. He was under no obligation to the party. The Republican papers have not tried to secure his services. He has been very generally and liberally denounced ever since his quarrel with Mr. Garfield, and it is only natural to resent what a man feels to be an injustice. I suppose he has done what he honestly thought was, under the circumstances, his duty. I believe him to be a man of stainless integrity, and he certainly has as much independence of character as one man can carry. It is time to put the party whip away. People can be driven from, but not to, the Republican party. If we expect to win in 1888 we must welcome recruits.

The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio, Dec. 11, 1884.


Question. Will a time ever come when political campaigns will be conducted independently of religious prejudice?

Answer. As long as men are prejudiced, they will probably be religious, and certainly as long as they are religious they will be prejudiced, and every religionist who imagines the next world infinitely more important than this, and who imagines that he gets his orders from God instead of from his own reason, or from his fellow-citizens, and who thinks that he should do something for the glory of God instead of for the benefit of his fellow-citizens —just as long as they believe these things, just so long their prejudices will control their votes. Every good, ignorant, orthodox Christian places his Bible above laws and constitutions. Every good, sincere and ignorant Catholic puts pope above king and president, as well as above the legally expressed will of a majority of his countrymen. Every Christian believes God to be the source of all authority. I believe that the authority to govern comes from the consent of the governed. Man is the source of power, and to protect and increase human happiness should be the object of government. I think that religious prejudices are growing weaker because religious belief is growing weaker. And these prejudices —should men ever become really civilized—will finally fade away. I think that a Presbyterian, to-day, has no more prejudice against an Atheist than he has against a Catholic. A Catholic does not dislike an Infidel any more than he does a Presbyterian, and I believe, to-day, that most of the Presbyterians would rather see and Atheist President than a pronounced Catholic.

Question. Is Agnosticism gaining ground in the United States?

Answer. Of course, there are thousands and thousands of men who have now advanced intellectually to the point of perceiving the limit of human knowledge. In other words, at last they are beginning to know enough to know what can and cannot be known. Sensible men know that nobody knows whether an infinite God exists or not. Sensible men know that an infinite personality cannot, by human testimony, be established. Sensible men are giving up trying to answer the questions of origin and destiny, and are paying more attention to what happens between these questions—that is to say, to this world. Infidelity increases as knowledge increases, as fear dies, and as the brain develops. After all, it is a question of intelligence. Only cunning performs a miracle, only ignorance believes it.

Question. Do you think that evolution and revealed religion are compatible—that is to say, can a man be an evolutionist and a Christian?

Answer. Evolution and Christianity may be compatible, provided you take the ground that Christianity is only one of the links in the chain, one of the phases of civilization. But if you mean by Christianity what is generally understood, of course that and evolution are absolutely incompatible. Christianity pretends to be not only the truth, but, so far as religion is concerned, the whole truth. Christianity pretends to give a history of religion and a prophecy of destiny. As a philosophy, it is an absolute failure. As a history, it is false. There is no possible way by which Darwin and Moses can be harmonized. There is an inexpressible conflict between Christianity and Science, and both cannot long inhabit the same brain. You cannot harmonize evolution and the atonement. The survival of the fittest does away with original sin.

Question. From your knowledge of the religious tendency in the United States, how long will orthodox religion be popular?

Answer. I do not think that orthodox religion is popular to-day. The ministers dare not preach the creed in all its naked deformity and horror. They are endeavoring with the vines of sentiment to cover up the caves and dens in which crawl the serpents of their creed. Very few ministers care now to speak of eternal pain. They leave out the lake of fire and brimstone. They are not fond of putting in the lips of Christ the loving words, "Depart from me, ye cursed." The miracles are avoided. In short, what is known as orthodoxy is already unpopular. Most ministers are endeavoring to harmonize what they are pleased to call science and Christianity, and nothing is now so welcome to the average Christian as some work tending to show that, after all, Joshua was an astronomer.

Question. What section of the United States, East, West, North, or South, is the most advanced in liberal religious ideas?

Answer. That section of the country in which there is the most intelligence is the most liberal. That section of the country where there is the most ignorance is the most prejudiced. The least brain is the most orthodox. There possibly is no more progressive city in the world, no more liberal, than Boston. Chicago is full of liberal people. So is San Francisco. The brain of New York is liberal. Every town, every city, is liberal in the precise proportion that it is intelligent.

Question. Will the religion of humanity be the religion of the future?

Answer. Yes; it is the only religion now. All other is superstition. What they call religion rests upon a supposed relation between man and God. In what they call religion man is asked to do something for God. As God wants nothing, and can by no possibility accept anything, such a religion is simply superstition. Humanity is the only possible religion. Whoever imagines that he can do anything for God is mistaken. Whoever imagines that he can add to his happiness in the next world by being useless in this, is also mistaken. And whoever thinks that any God cares how he cuts his hair or his clothes, or what he eats, or whether he fasts, or rings a bell, or puts holy water on his breast, or counts beads, or shuts his eyes and says words to the clouds, is laboring under a great mistake.

Question. A man in the Swaim Court Martial case was excluded as a witness because he was an Atheist. Do you think the law in the next decade will permit the affirmative oath?

Answer. If belief affected your eyes, your ears, any of your senses, or your memory, then, of course, no man ought to be a witness who had not the proper belief. But unless it can be shown that Atheism interferes with the sight, the hearing, or the memory, why should justice shut the door to truth?

In most of the States of this Union I could not give testimony. Should a man be murdered before my eyes I could not tell a jury who did it. Christianity endeavors to make an honest man an outlaw. Christianity has such a contemptible opinion of human nature that it does not believe a man can tell the truth unless frightened by a belief in God. No lower opinion of the human race has ever been expressed.

Question. Do you think that bigotry would persecute now for religious opinion's sake, if it were not for the law and the press?

Answer. I think that the church would persecute to-day if it had the power, just as it persecuted in the past. We are indebted for nearly all our religious liberty to the hypocrisy of the church. The church does not believe. Some in the church do, and if they had the power, they would torture and burn as of yore. Give the Presbyterian Church the power, and it would not allow an Infidel to live. Give the Methodist Church the power and the result would be the same. Give the Catholic Church the power—just the same. No church in the United States would be willing that any other church should have the power. The only men who are to be angels in the next world are the ones who cannot be trusted with human liberty in this; and the man who are destined to live forever in hell are the only gentlemen with whom human liberty is safe. Why should Christians refuse to persecute in this world, when their God is going to in the next?

Mail and Express, New York, January 12, 1885.


Question. What do you think of Mr. Cleveland's Cabinet?

Answer. It is a very good Cabinet. Some objections have been made to Mr. Lamar, but I think he is one of the very best. He is a man of ability, of unquestioned integrity, and is well informed on national affairs. Ever since he delivered his eulogy on the life and services of Sumner, I have had great respect for Mr. Lamar. He is far beyond most of his constituents, and has done much to destroy the provincial prejudices of Mississippi. He will without doubt make an excellent Secretary of the Interior. The South has no better representative man, and I believe his appointment will, in a little while, be satisfactory to the whole country. Bayard stands high in his party, and will certainly do as well as his immediate predecessor. Nothing could be better than the change in the Department of Justice. Garland is an able lawyer, has been an influential Senator and will, in my judgment, make an excellent Attorney-General. The rest of the Cabinet I know little about, but from what I hear I believe they are men of ability and that they will discharge their duties well. Mr. Vilas has a great reputation in Wisconsin, and is one of the best and most forcible speakers in the country.

Question. Will Mr. Cleveland, in your opinion, carry out the civil service reform he professes to favor?

Answer. I have no reason to suspect even that he will not. He has promised to execute the law, and the promise is in words that do not admit of two interpretations. Of course he is sincere. He knows that this course will save him a world of trouble, and he knows that it makes no difference about the politics of a copyist. All the offices of importance will in all probability be filled by Democrats. The President will not put himself in the power of his opponents. If he is to be held responsible for the administration he must be permitted to choose his own assistants. This is too plain to talk about. Let us give Mr. Cleveland a fair show—and let us expect success instead of failure. I admit that many Presidents have violated their promises. There seems to be something in the atmosphere of Washington that breeds promise and prevents performance. I suppose it is some kind of political malarial microbe. I hope that some political Pasteur will, one of these days, discover the real disease so that candidates can be vaccinated during the campaign. Until them, presidential promises will be liable to a discount.

Question. Is the Republican party dead?

Answer. My belief is that the next President will be a Republican, and that both houses will be Republican in 1889. Mr. Blaine was defeated by an accident—by the slip of another man's tongue. But it matters little what party is in power if the Government is administered upon correct principles, and if the Democracy adopt the views of the Republicans and carry out Republican measures, it may be that they can keep in power—otherwise—otherwise. If the Democrats carry out real Democratic measures, then their defeat is certain.

Question. Do you think that the era of good feeling between the North and the South has set in with the appointment of ex-rebels to the Cabinet?

Answer. The war is over. The South failed. The Nation succeeded. We should stop talking about South and North. We are one people, and whether we agree or disagree one destiny awaits us. We cannot divide. We must live together. We must trust each other. Confidence begets confidence. The whole country was responsible for slavery. Slavery was rebellion. Slavery is dead—so is rebellion. Liberty has united the country and there is more real union, national sentiment to-day, North and South, than ever before.

Question. It is hinted that Mr. Tilden is really the power behind the throne. Do you think so?

Answer. I guess nobody has taken the hint. Of course Mr. Tilden has retired from politics. The probability is that many Democrats ask his advice, and some rely on his judgment. He is regarded as a piece of ancient wisdom—a phenomenal persistence of the Jeffersonian type—the connecting link with the framers, founders and fathers. The power behind the throne is the power that the present occupant supposes will determine who the next occupant shall be.

Question. With the introduction of the Democracy into power, what radical changes will take place in the Government, and what will be the result?

Answer. If the President carries out his inaugural promises there will be no radical changes, and if he does not there will be a very radical change at the next presidential election. The inaugural is a very good Republican document. There is nothing in it calculated to excite alarm. There is no dangerous policy suggested—no conceited vagaries—nothing but a plain statement of the situation and the duty of the Chief Magistrate as understood by the President. I think that the inaugural surprised the Democrats and the Republicans both, and if the President carries out the program he has laid down he will surprise and pacify a large majority of the American people.

Mail and Express, New York, March 10, 1885.


Question. What do you think of prohibition, and what do you think of its success in this State?

Answer. Few people understand the restraining influence of liberty. Moderation walks hand in hand with freedom. I do not mean the freedom springing from the sudden rupture of restraint. That kind of freedom usually rushes to extremes.

People must be educated to take care of themselves, and this education must commence in infancy. Self-restraint is the only kind that can always be depended upon. Of course intemperance is a great evil. It causes immense suffering—clothes wives and children in rags, and is accountable for many crimes, particularly those of violence. Laws to be of value must be honestly enforced. Laws that sleep had better be dead. Laws to be enforced must be honestly approved of and believed in by a large majority of the people. Unpopular laws make hypocrites, perjurers and official shirkers of duty. And if to the violation of such laws severe penalties attach, they are rarely enforced. Laws that create artificial crimes are the hardest to carry into effect. You can never convince a majority of people that it is as bad to import goods without paying the legal duty as to commit larceny. Neither can you convince a majority of people that it is a crime or sin, or even a mistake, to drink a glass of wine or beer. Thousands and thousands of people in this State honestly believe that prohibition is an interference with their natural rights, and they feel justified in resorting to almost any means to defeat the law.

In this way people become somewhat demoralized. It is unfortunate to pass laws that remain unenforced on account of their unpopularity. People who would on most subjects swear to the truth do not hesitate to testify falsely on a prohibition trial. In addition to this, every known device is resorted to, to sell in spite of the law, and when some want to sell and a great many want to buy, considerable business will be done, while there are fewer saloons and less liquor sold in them. The liquor is poorer and the price is higher. The consumer has to pay for the extra risk. More liquor finds its way to homes, more men buy by the bottle and gallon. In old times nearly everybody kept a little rum or whiskey on the sideboard. The great Washingtonian temperance movement drove liquor out of the home and increased the taverns and saloons. Now we are driving liquor back to the homes. In my opinion there is a vast difference between distilled spirits and the lighter drinks, such as wine and beer. Wine is a fireside and whiskey a conflagration. These lighter drinks are not unhealthful and do not, as I believe, create a craving for stronger beverages. You will, I think, find it almost impossible to enforce the present law against wine and beer. I was told yesterday that there are some sixty places in Cedar Rapids where whiskey is sold. It takes about as much ceremony to get a drink as it does to join the Masons, but they seem to like the ceremony. People seem to take delight in outwitting the State when it does not involve the commission of any natural offence, and when about to be caught, may not hesitate to swear falsely to the extent of "don't remember," or "can't say positively," or "can't swear whether it was whiskey or not."

One great trouble in Iowa is that the politicians, or many of them who openly advocate prohibition, are really opposed to it. They want to keep the German vote, and they do not want to lose native Republicans. They feel a "divided duty" to ride both horses. This causes the contrast between their conversation and their speeches. A few years ago I took dinner with a gentleman who had been elected Governor of one of our States on the Prohibition ticket. We had four kinds of wine during the meal, and a pony of brandy at the end. Prohibition will never be a success until it prohibits the Prohibitionists. And yet I most sincerely hope and believe that the time will come when drunkenness shall have perished from the earth. Let us cultivate the love of home. Let husbands and wives and children be companions. Let them seek amusements together. If it is a good place for father to go, it is a good place for mother and the children. I believe that a home can be made more attractive than a saloon. Let the boys and girls amuse themselves at home—play games, study music, read interesting books, and let the parents be their playfellows. The best temperance lecture, in the fewest words, you will find in Victor Hugo's great novel "Les Miserables." The grave digger is asked to take a drink. He refuses and gives this reason: "The hunger of my family is the enemy of my thirst."

Question. Many people wonder why you are out of politics. Will you give your reasons?

Answer. A few years ago great questions had to be settled. The life of the nation was at stake. Later the liberty of millions of slaves depended upon the action of the Government. Afterward reconstruction and the rights of citizens pressed themselves upon the people for solution. And last, the preservation of national honor and credit. These questions did not enter into the last campaign. They had all been settled, and properly settled, with the one exception of the duty of the nation to protect the colored citizens. The Supreme Court settled that, at least for a time, and settled it wrong. But the Republican party submitted to the civil rights decision, and so, as between the great parties, that question did not arise. This left only two questions—protection and office. But as a matter of fact, all Republicans were not for our present system of protection, and all Democrats were not against it. On that question each party was and is divided. On the other question—office—both parties were and are in perfect harmony. Nothing remains now for the Democrats to do except to give a "working" definition of "offensive partisanship."

Question. Do you think that the American people are seeking after truth, or do they want to be amused?

Answer. We have all kinds. Thousands are earnestly seeking for the truth. They are looking over the old creeds, they are studying the Bible for themselves, they have the candor born of courage, they are depending upon themselves instead of on the clergy. They have found out that the clergy do not know; that their sources of information are not reliable; that, like the politicians, many ministers preach one way and talk another. The doctrine of eternal pain has driven millions from the church. People with good hearts cannot get consolation out of that cruel lie. The ministers themselves are getting ashamed to call that doctrine "the tidings of great joy." The American people are a serious people. They want to know the truth. They fell that whatever the truth may be they have the courage to hear it. The American people also have a sense of humor. They like to see old absurdities punctured and solemn stupidity held up to laughter. They are, on the average, the most intelligent people on the earth. They can see the point. Their wit is sharp, quick and logical. Nothing amuses them more that to see the mask pulled from the face of sham. The average American is generous, intelligent, level-headed, manly, and good- natured.

Question. What, in your judgment, is the source of the greatest trouble among men?

Answer. Superstition. That has caused more agony, more tears, persecution and real misery than all other causes combined. The other name for superstition is ignorance. When men learn that all sin is a mistake, that all dishonesty is a blunder, that even intelligent selfishness will protect the rights of others, there will be vastly more happiness in this world. Shakespeare says that "There is no darkness but ignorance." Sometime man will learn that when he steals from another, he robs himself—that the way to be happy is to make others so, and that it is far better to assist his fellow-man than to fast, say prayers, count beads or build temples to the Unknown. Some people tell us that selfishness is the only sin, but selfishness grows in the soil of ignorance. After all, education is the great lever, and the only one capable of raising mankind. People ignorant of their own rights are ignorant of the rights of others. Every tyrant is the slave of ignorance.

Question. How soon do you think we would have the millennium if every person attended strictly to his own business?

Answer. Now, if every person were intelligent enough to know his own business—to know just where his rights ended and the rights of others commenced, and then had the wisdom and honesty to act accordingly, we should have a very happy world. Most people like to control the conduct of others. They love to write rules, and pass laws for the benefit of their neighbors, and the neighbors are pretty busy at the same business. People, as a rule, think that they know the business of other people better than they do their own. A man watching others play checkers or chess always thinks he sees better moves than the players make. When all people attend to their own business they will know that a part of their own business is to increase the happiness of others.

Question. What is causing the development of this country?

Answer. Education, the free exchange of ideas, inventions by which the forces of nature become our servants, intellectual hospitality, a willingness to hear the other side, the richness of our soil, the extent of our territory, the diversity of climate and production, our system of government, the free discussion of political questions, our social freedom, and above all, the fact that labor is honorable.

Question. What is your opinion of the religious tendency of the people of this country?

Answer. Using the word religion in its highest and best sense, the people are becoming more religious. We are far more religious —using the word in its best sense—than when we believed in human slavery, but we are not as orthodox as we were then. We have more principle and less piety. We care more for the right and less for the creed. The old orthodox dogmas are mouldy. You will find moss on their backs. They are only brought out when a new candidate for the ministry is to be examined. Only a little while ago in New York a candidate for the Presbyterian pulpit was examined and the following is a part of the examination:

Question. "Do you believe in eternal punishment, as set forth in the confession of faith?"

Answer. (With some hesitation) "Yes, I do."

Question. "Have you preached on that subject lately?"

Answer. "No. I prepared a sermon on hell, in which I took the ground that the punishment of the wicked will be endless, and have it with me."

Question. "Did you deliver it?"

Answer. "No. I thought that my congregation would not care to hear it. The doctrine is rather unpopular where I have been preaching, and I was afraid I might do harm, so I have not delivered it yet."

Question. "But you believe in eternal damnation, do you not?"

Answer. "O yes, with all my heart."

He was admitted, and the admission proves the dishonesty of the examiners and the examined. The new version of the Old and New Testaments has done much to weaken confidence in the doctrine of inspiration. It has occurred to a good many that if God took the pains to inspire men to write the Bible, he ought to have inspired others to translate it correctly. The general tendency today is toward science, toward naturalism, toward what is called Infidelity, but is in fact fidelity. Men are in a transition state, and the people, on the average, have more real good, sound sense to-day than ever before. The church is losing its power for evil. The old chains are wearing out, and new ones are not being made. The tendency is toward intellectual freedom, and that means the final destruction of the orthodox bastille.

Question. What is your opinion of General Grant as he stands before the people to-day?

Answer. I have always regarded General Grant as the greatest soldier this continent has produced. He is to-day the most distinguished son of the Republic. The people have the greatest confidence in his ability, his patriotism and his integrity. The financial disaster impoverished General Grant, but he did not stain the reputation of the grand soldier who led to many victories the greatest army that ever fought for the liberties of man.

Iowa State Register, May 23, 1885.


Question. Colonel, have you read the revised Testament?

Answer. Yes, but I don't believe the work has been fairly done. The clergy are not going to scrape the butter off their own bread. The clergy are offensive partisans, and those of each denomination will interpret the Scriptures their way. No Baptist minister would countenance a "Revision" that favored sprinkling, and no Catholic priest would admit that any version would be correct that destroyed the dogma of the "real presence." So I might go through all the denominations.

Question. Why was the word sheol introduced in place of hell, and how do you like the substitute?

Answer. The civilized world has outgrown the vulgar and brutal hell of their fathers and founders of the churches. The clergy are ashamed to preach about sulphurous flames and undying worms. The imagination of the world has been developed, the heart has grown tender, and the old dogma of eternal pain shocks all civilized people. It is becoming disgraceful either to preach or believe in such a beastly lie. The clergy are beginning to think that it is hardly manly to frighten children with a detected falsehood. Sheol is a great relief. It is not so hot as the old place. The nights are comfortable, and the society is quite refined. The worms are dead, and the air reasonably free from noxious vapors. It is a much worse word to hold a revival with, but much better for every day use. It will hardly take the place of the old word when people step on tacks, put up stoves, or sit on pins; but for use at church fairs and mite societies it will do about as well. We do not need revision; excision is what we want. The barbarism should be taken out of the Bible. Passages upholding polygamy, wars of extermination, slavery, and religious persecution should not be attributed to a perfect God. The good that is in the Bible will be saved for man, and man will be saved from the evil that is in that book. Why should we worship in God what we detest in man?

Question. Do you think the use of the word sheol will make any difference to the preachers?

Answer. Of course it will make no difference with Talmage. He will make sheol just as hot and smoky and uncomfortable as hell, but the congregations will laugh instead of tremble. The old shudder has gone. Beecher had demolished hell before sheol was adopted. According to his doctrine of evolution hell has been slowly growing cool. The cindered souls do not even perspire. Sheol is nothing to Mr. Beecher but a new name for an old mistake. As for the effect it will have on Heber Newton, I cannot tell, neither can he, until he asks his bishop. There are people who believe in witches and madstones and fiat money, and centuries hence it may be that people will exist who will believe as firmly in hell as Dr. Shedd does now.

Question. What about Beecher's sermons on "Evolution"?

Answer. Beecher's sermons on "Evolution" will do good. Millions of people believe that Mr. Beecher knows at least as much as the other preachers, and if he regards the atonement as a dogma with a mistake for a foundation, they may conclude that the whole system is a mistake. But whether Mr. Beecher is mistaken or not, people know that honesty is a good thing, that gratitude is a virtue, that industry supports the world, and that whatever they believe about religion they are bound by every conceivable obligation to be just and generous. Mr. Beecher can no more succeed in reconciling science and religion, than he could in convincing the world that triangles and circles are exactly the same. There is the same relation between science and religion that there is between astronomy and astrology, between alchemy and chemistry, between orthodoxy and common sense.

Question. Have you read Miss Cleveland's book? She condemns George Eliot's poetry on the ground that it has no faith in it, nothing beyond. Do you imagine she would condemn Burns or Shelley for that reason?

Answer. I have not read Miss Cleveland's book; but, if the author condemns the poetry of George Eliot, she has made a mistake. There is no poem in our language more beautiful than "The Lovers," and none loftier or purer than "The Choir Invisible." There is no poetry in the "beyond." The poetry is here—here in this world, where love is in the heart. The poetry of the beyond is too far away, a little too general. Shelley's "Skylark" was in our sky, the daisy of Burns grew on our ground, and between that lark and that daisy is room for all the real poetry of the earth.

Evening Record, Boston, Mass., 1885.


Question. What is your opinion of the peculiar institution of American journalism known as interviewing?

Answer. If the interviewers are fair, if they know how to ask questions of a public nature, if they remember what is said, or write it at the time, and if the interviewed knows enough to answer questions in a way to amuse or instruct the public, then interviewing is a blessing. But if the representative of the press asks questions, either impudent or unimportant, and the answers are like the questions, then the institution is a failure. When the journalist fails to see the man he wishes to interview, or when the man refuses to be interviewed, and thereupon the aforesaid journalist writes up an interview, doing the talking for both sides, the institution is a success. Such interviews are always interesting, and, as a rule, the questions are to the point and the answers perfectly responsive. There is probably a little too much interviewing, and to many persons are asked questions upon subjects about which they know nothing. Mr. Smith makes some money in stocks or pork, visits London, and remains in that city for several weeks. On his return he is interviewd as to the institutions, laws and customs of the British Empire. Of course such an interview is exceedingly instructive. Lord Affanaff lands at the dock in North River, is driven to a hotel in a closed carriage, is interviewed a few minutes after by a representative of the Herald as to his view of the great Republic based upon what he has seen. Such an interview is also instructive. Interviews with candidates as to their chances of election is another favorite way of finding out their honest opinion, but people who rely on those interviews generally lose their bets. The most interesting interviews are generally denied. I have been expecting to see an interview with the Rev. Dr. Leonard on the medicinal properties of champagne and toast, or the relation between old ale and modern theology, and as to whether prohibition prohibits the Prohibitionists.

Question. Have you ever been misrepresented in interviews?

Answer. Several times. As a general rule, the clergy have selected these misrepresentations when answering me. I never blamed them, because it is much easier to answer something I did not say. Most reporters try to give my real words, but it is difficult to remember. They try to give the substance, and in that way change or destroy the sense. You remember the Frenchman who translated Shakespeare's great line in Macbeth—"Out, brief candle!"—into "Short candle, go out!." Another man, trying to give the last words of Webster—"I still live"—said "I aint dead yit." So that when they try to do their best they often make mistakes. Now and then interviews appear not one word of which I ever said, and sometimes when I really had an interview, another one has appeared. But generally the reporters treat me well, and most of them succeed in telling about what I said. Personally I have no cause for complaint.

Question. What do you think of the administration of President Cleveland?

Answer. I know but very little about it. I suppose that he is doing the best he can. He appears to be carrying out in good faith the principles laid down in the platform on which he was elected. He is having a hard road to travel. To satisfy an old Democrat and a new mugwump is a difficult job. Cleveland appears to be the owner of himself—appears to be a man of great firmness and force of character. The best thing that I have heard about him is that he went fishing on Sunday. We have had so much mock morality, dude deportment and hypocritical respectability in public office, that a man with courage enough to enjoy himself on Sunday is a refreshing and healthy example. All things considered I do not see but that Cleveland is doing well enough. The attitude of the administration toward the colored people is manly and fair so far as I can see.

Question. Are you still a Republican in political belief?

Answer. I believe that this is a Nation. I believe in the equality of all men before the law, irrespective of race, religion or color. I believe that there should be a dollar's worth of silver in a silver dollar. I believe in a free ballot and a fair count. I believe in protecting those industries, and those only, that need protection. I believe in unrestricted coinage of gold and silver. I believe in the rights of the State, the rights of the citizen, and the sovereignty of the Nation. I believe in good times, good health, good crops, good prices, good wages, good food, good clothes and in the absolute and unqualified liberty of thought. If such belief makes a Republican, than that is what I am.

Question. Do you approve of John Sherman's policy in the present campaign with reference to the bloody shirt, which reports of his speeches show that he is waving?

Answer. I have not read Senator Sherman's speech. It seems to me that there is a better feeling between the North and South than ever before—better than at any time since the Revolutionary war. I believe in cultivating that feeling, and in doing and saying what we can to contribute to its growth. We have hated long enough and fought enough. The colored people never have been well treated but they are being better treated now than ever before. It takes a long time to do away with prejudices that were based upon religion and rascality—that is to say, inspiration and interest. We must remember that slavery was the crime of the whole country. Now, if Senator Sherman has made a speech calculated to excite the hatreds and prejudices of the North and South, I think that he has made a mistake. I do not say that he has made such a speech, because I have not read it. The war is over—it ended at Appomattox. Let us hope that the bitterness born of the conflict died out forever at Riverside. The people are tired almost to death of the old speeches. They have been worn out and patched, and even the patches are threadbare. The Supreme Court decided the Civil Rights Bill to be unconstitutional, and the Republican party submitted. I regarded the decision as monstrous, but the Republican party when in power said nothing and did nothing. I most sincerely hope that the Democratic party will protect the colored people at least as well as we did when we were in power. But I am out of politics and intend to keep politics out of me.

Question. We have been having the periodical revival of interest in Spiritualism. What do you think of "Spiritualism," as it is popularly termed?

Answer. I do not believe in the supernatural. One who does not believe in gods would hardly believe in ghosts. I am not a believer in any of the "wonders" and "miracles" whether ancient or modern. There may be spirits, but I do not believe there are. They may communicate with some people, but thus far they have been successful in avoiding me. Of course, I know nothing for certain on the subject. I know a great many excellent people who are thoroughly convinced of the truth of Spiritualism. Christians laugh at the "miracles" to-day, attested by folks they know, but believe the miracles of long ago, attested by folks that they did not know. This is one of the contradictions in human nature. Most people are willing to believe that wonderful things happened long ago and will happen again in the far future; with them the present is the only time in which nature behaves herself with becoming sobriety.

In old times nature did all kinds of juggling tricks, and after a long while will do some more, but now she is attending strictly to business, depending upon cause and effect.

Question. Who, in your opinion, is the greatest leader of the "opposition" yclept the Christian religion?

Answer. I suppose that Mr. Beecher is the greatest man in the pulpit, but he thinks more of Darwin than he does of David and has an idea that the Old Testament is just a little too old. He has put evolution in the place of the atonement—has thrown away the Garden of Eden, snake, apples and all, and is endeavoring to save enough of the orthodox wreck to make a raft. I know of no other genius in the pulpit. There are plenty of theological doctors and bishops and all kinds of titled humility in the sacred profession, but men of genius are scarce. All the ministers, except Messrs. Moody and Jones, are busy explaining away the contradiction between inspiration and demonstration.

Question. What books would you recommend for the perusal of a young man of limited time and culture with reference to helping him in the development of intellect and good character?

Answer. The works of Darwin, Ernst Haeckel, Draper's "Intellectual Development of Europe," Buckle's "History of Civilization in England," Lecky's "History of European Morals," Voltaire's "Philosophical Dictionary," Buechner's "Force and Matter," "The History of the Christian Religion" by Waite; Paine's "Age of Reason," D'Holbach's "System of Nature," and, above all, Shakespeare. Do not forget Burns, Shelley, Dickens and Hugo.

Question. Will you lecture the coming winter?

Answer. Yes, about the same as usual. Woe is me if I preach not my gospel.

Question. Have you been invited to lecture in Europe? If so do you intend to accept the "call"?

Answer. Yes, often. The probability is that I shall go to England and Australia. I have not only had invitations but most excellent offers from both countries. There is, however, plenty to do here. This is the best country in the world and our people are eager to hear the other side.

The old kind of preaching is getting superannuated. It lags superfluous in the pulpit. Our people are outgrowing the cruelties and absurdities of the ancient Jews. The idea of hell has become shocking and vulgar. Eternal punishment is eternal injustice. It is infinitely infamous. Most ministers are ashamed to preach the doctrine, and the congregations are ashamed to hear it preached. It is the essence of savagery.

Plain Dealer, Cincinnati, Ohio, September 5, 1885.


Question. It is said that in the past four or five years you have changed or modified your views upon the subject of religion; is this so?

Answer. It is not so. The only change, if that can be called a change, is, that I am more perfectly satisfied that I am right— satisfied that what is called orthodox religion is a simple fabrication of mistaken men; satisfied that there is no such thing as an inspired book and never will be; satisfied that a miracle never was and never will be performed; satisfied that no human being knows whether there is a God or not, whether there is another life or not; satisfied that the scheme of atonement is a mistake, that the innocent cannot, by suffering for the guilty, atone for the guilt; satisfied that the doctrine that salvation depends on belief, is cruel and absurd; satisfied that the doctrine of eternal punishment is infamously false; satisfied that superstition is of no use to the human race; satisfied that humanity is the only true and real religion.

No, I have not modified my views. I detect new absurdities every day in the popular belief. Every day the whole thing becomes more and more absurd. Of course there are hundreds and thousands of most excellent people who believe in orthodox religion; people for whose good qualities I have the greatest respect; people who have good ideas on most other subjects; good citizens, good fathers, husbands, wives and children—good in spite of their religion. I do not attack people. I attack the mistakes of people. Orthodoxy is getting weaker every day.

Question. Do you believe in the existence of a Supreme Being?

Answer. I do not believe in any Supreme personality or in any Supreme Being who made the universe and governs nature. I do not say that there is no such Being—all I say is that I do not believe that such a Being exists. I know nothing on the subject, except that I know that I do not know and that nobody else knows. But if there is such a Being, he certainly never wrote the Old Testament. You will understand my position. I do not say that a Supreme Being does not exist, but I do say that I do not believe such a Being exists. The universe—embracing all that is—all atoms, all stars, each grain of sand and all the constellations, each thought and dream of animal and man, all matter and all force, all doubt and all belief, all virtue and all crime, all joy and all pain, all growth and all decay—is all there is. It does not act because it is moved from without. It acts from within. It is actor and subject, means and end.

It is infinite; the infinite could not have been created. It is indestructible and that which cannot be destroyed was not created. I am a Pantheist.

Question. Don't you think the belief of the Agnostic is more satisfactory to the believer than that of the Atheist?

Answer. There is no difference. The Agnostic is an Atheist. The Atheist is an Agnostic. The Agnostic says: "I do not know, but I do not believe there is any God." The Atheist says the same. The orthodox Christian says he knows there is a God; but we know that he does not know. He simply believes. He cannot know. The Atheist cannot know that God does not exist.

Question. Haven't you just the faintest glimmer of a hope that in some future state you will meet and be reunited to those who are dear to you in this?

Answer. I have no particular desire to be destroyed. I am willing to go to heaven if there be such a place, and enjoy myself for ever and ever. It would give me infinite satisfaction to know that all mankind are to be happy forever. Infidels love their wives and children as well as Christians do theirs. I have never said a word against heaven—never said a word against the idea of immortality. On the contrary, I have said all I could truthfully say in favor of the idea that we shall live again. I most sincerely hope that there is another world, better than this, where all the broken ties of love will be united. It is the other place I have been fighting. Better that all of us should sleep the sleep of death forever than that some should suffer pain forever. If in order to have a heaven there must be a hell, then I say away with them both. My doctrine puts the bow of hope over every grave; my doctrine takes from every mother's heart the fear of hell. No good man would enjoy himself in heaven with his friends in hell. No good God could enjoy himself in heaven with millions of his poor, helpless mistakes in hell. The orthodox idea of heaven—with God an eternal inquisitor, a few heartless angels and some redeemed orthodox, all enjoying themselves, while the vast multitude will weep in the rayless gloom of God's eternal dungeon—is not calculated to make man good or happy. I am doing what I can to civilize the churches, humanize the preachers and get the fear of hell out of the human heart. In this business I am meeting with great success.

Philadelphia Times, September 25, 1885.


Question. Shall you attend the Albany Freethought Convention?

Answer. I have agreed to be present not only, but to address the convention, on Sunday, the 13th of September. I am greatly gratified to know that the interest in the question of intellectual liberty is growing from year to year. Everywhere I go it seems to be the topic of conversation. No matter upon what subject people begin to talk, in a little while the discussion takes a religious turn, and people who a few moments before had not the slightest thought of saying a word about the churches, or about the Bible, are giving their opinions in full. I hear discussions of this kind in all the public conveyances, at the hotels, on the piazzas at the seaside—and they are not discussions in which I take any part, because I rarely say anything upon these questions except in public, unless I am directly addressed.

There is a general feeling that the church has ruled the world long enough. People are beginning to see that no amount of eloquence, or faith, or erudition, or authority, can make the records of barbarism satisfactory to the heart and brain of this century. They have also found that a falsehood in Hebrew in no more credible than in plain English. People at last are beginning to be satisfied that cruel laws were never good laws, no matter whether inspired or uninspired. The Christian religion, like every other religion depending upon inspired writings, is wrecked upon the facts of nature. So long as inspired writers confined themselves to the supernatural world; so long as they talked about angels and Gods and heavens and hells; so long as they described only things that man has never seen, and never will see, they were safe, not from contradiction, but from demonstration. But these writings had to have a foundation, even for their falsehoods, and that foundation was in Nature. The foundation had to be something about which somebody knew something, or supposed they knew something. They told something about this world that agreed with the then general opinion. Had these inspired writers told the truth about Nature— had they said that the world revolved on its axis, and made a circuit about the sun—they could have gained no credence for their statements about other worlds. They were forced to agree with their contemporaries about this world, and there is where they made the fundamental mistake. Having grown in knowledge, the world has discovered that these inspired men knew nothing about this earth; that the inspired books are filled with mistakes—not only mistakes that we can contradict, but mistakes that we can demonstrate to be mistakes. Had they told the truth in their day, about this earth, they would not have been believed about other worlds, because their contemporaries would have used their own knowledge about this world to test the knowledge of these inspired men. We pursue the same course; and what we know about this world we use as the standard, and by that standard we have found that the inspired men knew nothing about Nature as it is. Finding that they were mistaken about this world, we have no confidence in what they have said about another. Every religion has had its philosophy about this world, and every one has been mistaken. As education becomes general, as scientific modes are adopted, this will become clearer and clearer, until "ignorant as inspiration" will be a comparison.

Question. Have you seen the memorial to the New York Legislature, to be presented this winter, asking for the repeal of such laws as practically unite church and state?

Answer. I have seen a memorial asking that church property be taxed like other property; that no more money should be appropriated from the public treasury for the support of institutions managed by and in the interest of sectarian denominations; for the repeal of all laws compelling the observance of Sunday as a religious day. Such memorials ought to be addressed to the Legislatures of all the States. The money of the public should only be used for the benefit of the public. Public money should not be used for what a few gentlemen think is for the benefit of the public. Personally, I think it would be for the benefit of the public to have Infidel or scientific—which is the same thing—lectures delivered in every town, in every State, on every Sunday; but knowing that a great many men disagree with me on this point, I do not claim that such lectures ought to be paid for with public money. The Methodist Church ought not to be sustained by taxation, nor the Catholic, nor any other church. To relieve their property from taxation is to appropriate money, to the extent of that tax, for the support of that church. Whenever a burden is lifted from one piece of property, it is distributed over the rest of the property of the State, and to release one kind of property is to increase the tax on all other kinds.

There was a time when people really supposed the churches were saving souls from the eternal wrath of a God of infinite love. Being engaged in such a philanthropic work, and at the time nobody having the courage to deny it—the church being all-powerful—all other property was taxed to support the church; but now the more civilized part of the community, being satisfied that a God of infinite love will not be eternally unjust, feel as though the church should support herself. To exempt the church from taxation is to pay a part of the priest's salary. The Catholic now objects to being taxed to support a school in which his religion is not taught. He is not satisfied with the school that says nothing on the subject of religion. He insists that it is an outrage to tax him to support a school where the teacher simply teaches what he knows. And yet this same Catholic wants his church exempted from taxation, and the tax of an Atheist or of a Jew increased, when he teaches in his untaxed church that the Atheist and Jew will both be eternally damned! Is it possible for impudence to go further?

I insist that no religion should be taught in any school supported by public money; and by religion I mean superstition. Only that should be taught in a school that somebody can learn and that somebody can know. In my judgment, every church should be taxed precisely the same as other property. The church may claim that it is one of the instruments of civilization and therefore should be exempt. If you exempt that which is useful, you exempt every trade and every profession. In my judgment, theatres have done more to civilize mankind than churches; that is to say, theatres have done something to civilize mankind—churches nothing. The effect of all superstition has been to render men barbarous. I do not believe in the civilizing effects of falsehood.

There was a time when ministers were supposed to be in the employ of God, and it was thought that God selected them with great care —that their profession had something sacred about it. These ideas are no longer entertained by sensible people. Ministers should be paid like other professional men, and those who like their preaching should pay for the preach. They should depend, as actors do, upon their popularity, upon the amount of sense, or nonsense, that they have for sale. They should depend upon the market like other people, and if people do not want to hear sermons badly enough to build churches and pay for them, and pay the taxes on them, and hire the preacher, let the money be diverted to some other use. The pulpit should no longer be a pauper. I do not believe in carrying on any business with the contribution box. All the sectarian institutions ought to support themselves. These should be no Methodist or Catholic or Presbyterian hospitals or orphan asylums. All these should be supported by the State. There is no such thing as Catholic charity, or Methodist charity. Charity belongs to humanity, not to any particular form of faith or religion. You will find as charitable people who never heard of religion, as you can find in the church. The State should provide for those who ought to be provided for. A few Methodists beg of everybody they meet—send women with subscription papers, asking money from all classes of people, and nearly everybody gives something from politeness, or to keep from being annoyed; and when the institution is finished, it is pointed at as the result of Methodism.

Probably a majority of the people in this country suppose that there was no charity in the world until the Christian religion was founded. Great men have repeated this falsehood, until ignorance and thoughtlessness believe it. There were orphan asylums in China, in India, and in Egypt thousands of years before Christ was born; and there certainly never was a time in the history of the whole world when there was less charity in Europe than during the centuries when the Church of Christ had absolute power. There were hundreds of Mohammedan asylums before Christianity had built ten in the entire world.

All institutions for the care of unfortunate people should be secular—should be supported by the State. The money for the purpose should be raised by taxation, to the end that the burden may be borne by those able to bear it. As it is now, most of the money is paid, not by the rich, but by the generous, and those most able to help their needy fellow citizens are the very ones who do nothing. If the money is raised by taxation, then the burden will fall where it ought to fall, and these institutions will no longer be supported by the generous and emotional, and the rich and stingy will no longer be able to evade the duties of citizenship and of humanity.

Now, as to the Sunday laws, we know that they are only spasmodically enforced. Now and then a few people are arrested for selling papers or cigars. Some unfortunate barber is grabbed by a policeman because he has been caught shaving a Christian, Sunday morning. Now and then some poor fellow with a hack, trying to make a dollar or two to feed his horses, or to take care of his wife and children, is arrested as though he were a murderer. But in a few days the public are inconvenienced to that degree that the arrests stop and business goes on in its accustomed channels, Sunday and all.

Now and then society becomes so pious, so virtuous, that people are compelled to enter saloons by the back door; others are compelled to drink beer with the front shutters up; but otherwise the stream that goes down the thirsty throats is unbroken. The ministers have done their best to prevent all recreation on the Sabbath. They would like to stop all the boats on the Hudson, and on the sea— stop all the excursion trains. They would like to compel every human being that lives in the city of New York to remain within its limits twenty-four hours every Sunday. They hate the parks; they hate music; they hate anything that keeps a man away from church. Most of the churches are empty during the summer, and now most of the ministers leave themselves, and give over the entire city to the Devil and his emissaries. And yet if the ministers had their way, there would be no form of human enjoyment except prayer, signing subscription papers, putting money in contribution boxes, listening to sermons, reading the cheerful histories of the Old Testament, imagining the joys of heaven and the torments of hell. The church is opposed to the theatre, is the enemy of the opera, looks upon dancing as a crime, hates billiards, despises cards, opposes roller-skating, and even entertains a certain kind of prejudice against croquet.

Question. Do you think that the orthodox church gets its ideas of the Sabbath from the teachings of Christ?

Answer. I do not hold Christ responsible for these idiotic ideas concerning the Sabbath. He regarded the Sabbath as something made for man—which was a very sensible view. The holiest day is the happiest day. The most sacred day is the one in which have been done the most good deeds. There are two reasons given in the Bible for keeping the Sabbath. One is that God made the world in six days, and rested on the seventh. Now that all the ministers admit that he did not make the world in six days, but that he made it in six "periods," this reason is no longer applicable. The other reason is that he brought the Jews out of Egypt with a "mighty hand." This may be a very good reason still for the observance of the Sabbath by the Jews, but the real Sabbath, that is to say, the day to be commemorated, is our Saturday, and why should we commemorate the wrong day? That disposes of the second reason.

Nothing can be more inconsistent than the theories and practice of the churches about the Sabbath. The cars run Sundays, and out of the profits hundreds of ministers are supported. The great iron and steel works fill with smoke and fire the Sabbath air, and the proprietors divide the profits with the churches. The printers of the city are busy Sunday afternoons and evenings, and the presses during the nights, so that the sermons of Sunday can reach the heathen on Monday. The servants of the rich are denied the privileges of the sanctuary. The coachman sits on the box out-doors, while his employer kneels in church preparing himself for the heavenly chariot. The iceman goes about on the holy day, keeping believers cool, they knowing at the same time that he is making it hot for himself in the world to come. Christians cross the Atlantic, knowing that the ship will pursue its way on the Sabbath. They write letters to their friends knowing that they will be carried in violation of Jehovah's law, by wicked men. Yet they hate to see a pale-faced sewing girl enjoying a few hours by the sea; a poor mechanic walking in the fields; or a tired mother watching her children playing on the grass. Nothing ever was, nothing ever will be, more utterly absurd and disgusting than a Puritan Sunday. Nothing ever did make a home more hateful than the strict observance of the Sabbath. It fills the house with hypocrisy and the meanest kind of petty tyranny. The parents look sour and stern, the children sad and sulky. They are compelled to talk upon subjects about which they feel no interest, or to read books that are thought good only because they are so stupid.

Question. What have you to say about the growth of Catholicism, the activity of the Salvation Army, and the success of revivalists like the Rev. Samuel Jones? Is Christianity really gaining a strong hold on the masses?

Answer. Catholicism is growing in this country, and it is the only country on earth in which it is growing. Its growth here depends entirely upon immigration, not upon intellectual conquest. Catholic emigrants who leave their homes in the Old World because they have never had any liberty, and who are Catholics for the same reason, add to the number of Catholics here, but their children's children will not be Catholics. Their children will not be very good Catholics, and even these immigrants themselves, in a few years, will not grovel quite so low in the presence of a priest. The Catholic Church is gaining no ground in Catholic countries.

The Salvation Army is the result of two things—the general belief in what are known as the fundamentals of Christianity, and the heartlessness of the church. The church in England—that is to say, the Church of England—having succeeded—that is to say, being supported by general taxation—that is to say, being a successful, well-fed parasite—naturally neglected those who did not in any way contribute to its support. It became aristocratic. Splendid churches were built; younger sons with good voices were put in the pulpits; the pulpit became the asylum for aristocratic mediocrity, and in this way the Church of England lost interest in the masses and the masses lost interest in the Church of England. The neglected poor, who really had some belief in religion, and who had not been absolutely petrified by form and patronage, were ready for the Salvation Army. They were not at home in the church. They could not pay. They preferred the freedom of the street. They preferred to attend a church where rags were no objection. Had the church loved and labored with the poor the Salvation Army never would have existed. These people are simply giving their idea of Christianity, and in their way endeavoring to do what they consider good. I don't suppose the Salvation Army will accomplish much. To improve mankind you must change conditions. It is not enough to work simply upon the emotional nature. The surroundings must be such as naturally produce virtuous actions. If we are to believe recent reports from London, the Church of England, even with the assistance of the Salvation Army, has accomplished but little. It would be hard to find any country with less morality. You would search long in the jungles of Africa to find greater depravity.

I account for revivalists like the Rev. Samuel Jones in the same way. There is in every community an ignorant class—what you might call a literal class—who believe in the real blood atonement; who believe in heaven and hell, and harps and gridirons; who have never had their faith weakened by reading commentators or books harmonizing science and religion. They love to hear the good old doctrine; they want hell described; they want it described so that they can hear the moans and shrieks; they want heaven described; they want to see God on a throne, and they want to feel that they are finally to have the pleasure of looking over the battlements of heaven and seeing all their enemies among the damned. The Rev. Mr. Munger has suddenly become a revivalist. According to the papers he is sought for in every direction. His popularity seems to rest upon the fact that he brutally beat a girl twelve years old because she did not say her prayers to suit him. Muscular Christianity is what the ignorant people want. I regard all these efforts—including those made by Mr. Moody and Mr. Hammond—as evidence that Christianity, as an intellectual factor, has almost spent its force. It no longer governs the intellectual world.

Question. Are not the Catholics the least progressive? And are they not, in spite of their professions to the contrary, enemies to republican liberty?

Answer. Every church that has a standard higher than human welfare is dangerous. A church that puts a book above the laws and constitution of its country, that puts a book above the welfare of mankind, is dangerous to human liberty. Every church that puts itself above the legally expressed will of the people is dangerous. Every church that holds itself under greater obligation to a pope than to a people is dangerous to human liberty. Every church that puts religion above humanity—above the well-being of man in this world—is dangerous. The Catholic Church may be more dangerous, not because its doctrines are more dangerous, but because, on the average, its members more sincerely believe its doctrines, and because that church can be hurled as a solid body in any given direction. For these reasons it is more dangerous than other churches; but the doctrines are no more dangerous than those of the Protestant churches. The man who would sacrifice the well- being of man to please an imaginary phantom that he calls God, is also dangerous. The only safe standard is the well-being of man in this world. Whenever this world is sacrificed for the sake of another, a mistake has been made. The only God that man can know is the aggregate of all beings capable of suffering and of joy within the reach of his influence. To increase the happiness of such beings is to worship the only God that man can know.

Question. What have you to say to the assertion of Dr. Deems that there were never so many Christians as now?

Answer. I suppose that the population of the earth is greater now than at any other time within the historic period. This being so, there may be more Christians, so-called, in this world than there were a hundred years ago. Of course, the reverend doctor, in making up his aggregate of Christians, counts all kinds and sects—Unitarians, Universalists, and all the other "ans" and "ists" and "ics" and "ites" and "ers." But Dr. Deems must admit that only a few years ago most of the persons he now calls Christians would have been burnt as heretics and Infidels. Let us compare the average New York Christian with the Christian of two hundred years ago. It is probably safe to say that there is not now in the city of New York a genuine Presbyterian outside of an insane asylum. Probably no one could be found who will to-day admit that he believes absolutely in the Presbyterian Confession of Faith. There is probably not an Episcopalian who believes in the Thirty-nine Articles. Probably there is not an intelligent minister in the city of New York, outside of the Catholic Church, who believes that everything in the Bible is true. Probably no clergyman, of any standing, would be willing to take the ground that everything in the Old Testament—leaving out the question of inspiration—is actually true. Very few ministers now preach the doctrine of eternal punishment. Most of them would be ashamed to utter that brutal falsehood. A large majority of gentlemen who attend church take the liberty of disagreeing with the preacher. They would have been very poor Christians two hundred years ago. A majority of the ministers take the liberty of disagreeing, in many things, with their Presbyteries and Synods. They would have been very poor preachers two hundred years ago. Dr. Deems forgets that most Christians are only nominally so. Very few believe their creeds. Very few even try to live in accordance with what they call Christian doctrines. Nobody loves his enemies. No Christian when smitten on one cheek turns the other. Most Christians do take a little thought for the morrow. They do not depend entirely upon the providence of God. Most Christians now have greater confidence in the average life-insurance company than in God—feel easier when dying to know that they have a policy, through which they expect the widow will receive ten thousand dollars, than when thinking of all the Scripture promises. Even church-members do not trust in God to protect their own property. They insult heaven by putting lightning rods on their temples. They insure the churches against the act of God. The experience of man has shown the wisdom of relying on something that we know something about, instead of upon the shadowy supernatural. The poor wretches to-day in Spain, depending upon their priests, die like poisoned flies; die with prayers between their pallid lips; die in their filth and faith.

Question. What have you to say on the Mormon question?

Answer. The institution of polygamy is infamous and disgusting beyond expression. It destroys what we call, and all civilized people call, "the family." It pollutes the fireside, and, above all, as Burns would say, "petrifies the feeling." It is, however, one of the institutions of Jehovah. It is protected by the Bible. It has inspiration on its side. Sinai, with its barren, granite peaks, is a perpetual witness in its favor. The beloved of God practiced it, and, according to the sacred word, the wisest man had, I believe, about seven hundred wives. This man received his wisdom directly from God. It is hard for the average Bible worshiper to attack this institution without casting a certain stain upon his own book.

Only a few years ago slavery was upheld by the same Bible. Slavery having been abolished, the passages in the inspired volume upholding it have been mostly forgotten, but polygamy lives, and the polygamists, with great volubility, repeat the passages in their favor. We send our missionaries to Utah, with their Bibles, to convert the Mormons.

The Mormons show, by these very Bibles, that God is on their side. Nothing remain now for the missionaries except to get back their Bibles and come home. The preachers do not appeal to the Bible for the purpose of putting down Mormonism. They say: "Send the army." If the people of this country could only be honest; if they would only admit that the Old Testament is but the record of a barbarous people; if the Samson of the nineteenth century would not allow its limbs to be bound by the Delilah of superstition, it could with one blow destroy this monster. What shall we say of the moral force of Christianity, when it utterly fails in the presence of Mormonism? What shall we say of a Bible that we dare not read to a Mormon as an argument against legalized lust, or as an argument against illegal lust?

I am opposed to polygamy. I want it exterminated by law; but I hate to see the exterminators insist that God, only a few thousand years ago, was as bad as the Mormons are to-day. In my judgment, such a God ought to be exterminated.

Question. What do you think of men like the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher and the Rev. R. Heber Newton? Do they deserve any credit for the course they have taken?

Answer. Mr. Beecher is evidently endeavoring to shore up the walls of the falling temple. He sees the cracks; he knows that the building is out of plumb; he feels that the foundation is insecure. Lies can take the place of stones only so long as they are thoroughly believed. Mr. Beecher is trying to do something to harmonize superstition and science. He is reading between the lines. He has discovered that Darwin is only a later Saint Paul, or that Saint Paul was the original Darwin. He is endeavoring to make the New Testament a scientific text-book. Of course he will fail. But his intentions are good. Thousands of people will read the New Testament with more freedom than heretofore. They will look for new meanings; and he who looks for new meanings will not be satisfied with the old ones. Mr. Beecher, instead of strengthening the walls, will make them weaker.

There is no harmony between religion and science. When science was a child, religion sought to strangle it in the cradle. Now that science has attained its youth, and superstition is in its dotage, the trembling, palsied wreck says to the athlete: "Let us be friends." It reminds me of the bargain the cock wished to make with the horse: "Let us agree not to step on each other's feet." Mr. Beecher, having done away with hell, substitutes annihilation. His doctrine at present is that only a fortunate few are immortal, and that the great mass return to dreamless dust. This, of course, is far better than hell, and is a great improvement on the orthodox view. Mr. Beecher cannot believe that God would make such a mistake as to make men doomed to suffer eternal pain. Why, I ask, should God give life to men whom he knows are unworthy of life? Why should he annihilate his mistakes? Why should he make mistakes that need annihilation?

It can hardly be said that Mr. Beecher's idea is a new one. It was taught, with an addition, thousands of years ago, in India, and the addition almost answers my objection. The old doctrine was that only the soul that bears fruit, only the soul that bursts into blossom, will at the death of the body rejoin the Infinite, and that all other souls—souls not having blossomed—will go back into low forms and make the journey up to man once more, and should they then blossom and bear fruit, will be held worthy to join the Infinite, but should they again fail, they again go back; and this process is repeated until they do blossom, and in this way all souls at last become perfect. I suggest that Mr. Beecher make at least this addition to his doctrine.

But allow me to say that, in my judgment, Mr. Beecher is doing great good. He may not convince many people that he is right, but he will certainly convince a great many people that Christianity is wrong.

Question. In what estimation do you hold Charles Watts and Samuel Putnam, and what do you think of their labors in the cause of Freethought?

Answer. Mr. Watts is an extremely logical man, with a direct and straightforward manner and mind. He has paid great attention to what is called "Secularism." He thoroughly understands organization, and he is undoubtedly one of the strongest debaters in the field. He has had great experience. He has demolished more divines than any man of my acquaintance. I have read several of his debates. In discussion he is quick, pertinent, logical, and, above all, good natured.

There is not in all he says a touch of malice. He can afford to be generous to his antagonists, because he is always the victor, and is always sure of the victory. Last winter wherever I went, I heard the most favorable accounts of Mr. Watts. All who heard him were delighted.

Mr. Putnam is one of the most thorough believers in intellectual liberty in the world. He believes with all his heart, is full of enthusiasm, ready to make any sacrifice, and to endure any hardship. Had he lived a few years ago, he would have been a martyr. He has written some of the most stirring appeals to the Liberals of this country that I have ever read. He believes that Freethought has a future; that the time is coming when the superstitions of the world will either be forgotten, or remembered—some of them with smiles—most of them with tears. Mr. Putnam, although endowed with a poetic nature, with poetic insight, clings to the known, builds upon the experience of man, and believes in fancies only when they are used as the wings of a fact. I have never met a man who appeared to be more thoroughly devoted to the great cause of mental freedom. I have read his books with great interest, and find in them many pages filled with philosophy and pathos. I have met him often and I never heard him utter a harsh word about any human being. His good nature is as unfailing as the air. His abilities are of the highest order. It is a positive pleasure to meet him. He is so enthusiastic, so unselfish, so natural, so appreciative of others, so thoughtful for the cause, and so careless of himself, that he compels the admiration of every one who really loves the just and true.

The Truth Seeker, New York, September 5, 1885.


Question. What have you to say with reference to the respective attitudes of the President and Senate?

Answer. I don't think there is any doubt as to the right of the Senate to call on the President for information. Of course that means for what information he has. When a duty devolves upon two persons, one of them has no right to withhold any facts calculated to throw any light on the question that both are to decide. The President cannot appoint any officer who has to be confirmed by the Senate; he can simply nominate. The Senate cannot even suggest a name; it can only pass upon the person nominated. If it is called upon for counsel and advice, how can it give advice without knowing the facts and circumstances? The President must have a reason for wishing to make a change. He should give that reason to the Senate without waiting to be asked. He has assured the country that he is a civil service reformer; that no man is to be turned out because he is a Republican, and no man appointed because he is a Democrat. Now, the Senate has given the President an opportunity to prove that he has acted as he has talked. If the President feels that he is bound to carry out the civil-service law, ought not the Senate to feel in the same way? Is it not the duty of the Senate to see to it that the President does not, with its advice and consent, violate the civil service law? Is the consent of the Senate a mere matter of form? In these appointments the President is not independent of or above the Senate; they are equal, and each has the right to be "honor bright" with the other, at least.

As long as this foolish law is unrepealed it must be carried out. Neither party is in favor of civil service reform, and never was. The Republican party did not carry it out, and did not intend to. The President has the right to nominate. Under the law as it is now, when the President wants to appoint a clerk, or when one of his secretaries wants one, four names are sent, and from these four names a choice has to be made. This is clearly an invasion of the rights of the Executive. If they have the right to compel the President to choose from four, why not from three, or two? Why not name the one, and have done with it? The law is worse than unconstitutional—it is absurd.

But in this contest the Senate, in my judgment, is right. In my opinion, by the time Cleveland goes out most of the offices will be filled with Democrats. If the Republicans succeed next time, I know, and everybody knows, that they will never rest easy until they get the Democrats out. They will shout "offensive partisanship." The truth is, the theory is wrong. Every citizen should take an interest in politics. A good man should not agree to keep silent just for the sake of an office. A man owes his best thoughts to his country. If he ought to defend his country in time of war, and under certain circumstances give his life for it, can we say that in time of peace he is under no obligation to discharge what he believes to be a duty, if he happens to hold an office? Must he sell his birthright for the sake of being a doorkeeper? The whole doctrine is absurd and never will be carried out.

Question. What do you think as to the presidential race?

Answer. That is a good way off. I think the people can hardly be roused to enthusiasm by the old names. Our party must take another step forward. We cannot live on what we have done; we must seek power for the sake, not of power, but for the accomplishment of a purpose. We must reform the tariff. We must settle the question of silver. We must have sense enough to know what the country needs, and courage enough to tell it. By reforming the tariff, I mean protect that and that only that needs protection— laws for the country and not for the few. We want honest money; we want a dollar's worth of gold in a silver dollar, and a dollar's worth of silver in a gold dollar. We want to make them of equal value. Bi-metallism does not mean that eighty cents' worth of silver is worth one hundred in gold. The Republican party must get back its conscience and be guided by it in deciding the questions that arise. Great questions are pressing for solution. Thousands of working people are in want. Business is depressed. The future is filled with clouds. What does the Republican party propose? Must we wait for mobs to inaugurate reform? Must we depend on police or statesmen? Should we wait and crush by brute force or should we prevent?

The toilers demand that eight hours should constitute a day's work. Upon this question what does our party say? Labor saving machines ought to lighten the burdens of the laborers. It will not do to say "over production" and keep on inventing machines and refuse to shorten the hours. What does our party say? The rich can take care of themselves if the mob will let them alone, and there will be no mob if there is no widespread want. Hunger is a communist. The next candidate of the Republican party must be big enough and courageous enough to answer these questions. If we find that kind of a candidate we shall succeed—if we do not, we ought not.

Chicago Inter-Ocean, February, 1886.


Question. Have you noticed the decision of Mr. Nathaniel Jarvis, Jr., clerk of the Naturalization Bureau of the Court of Common Pleas, that an Atheist cannot become a citizen?

Answer. Yes, but I do not think it necessary for a man to be a theist in order to become or to remain a citizen of this country. The various laws, from 1790 up to 1828, provided that the person wishing to be naturalized might make oath or affirmation. The first exception you will find in the Revised Statutes of the United States passed in 1873-74, section 2,165, as follows:—"An alien may be admitted to become a citizen of the United States in the following manner, and not otherwise:—First, he shall declare on oath, before a Circuit or District Court of the United States, etc." I suppose Mr. Jarvis felt it to be his duty to comply with this section. In this section there is nothing about affirmation —only the word "oath" is used—and Mr. Jarvis came to the conclusion that an Atheist could not take an oath, and, therefore, could not declare his intention legally to become a citizen of the United States. Undoubtedly Mr. Jarvis felt it his duty to stand by the law and to see to it that nobody should become a citizen of this country who had not a well defined belief in the existence of a being that he could not define and that no man has ever been able to define. In other words, that he should be perfectly convinced that there is a being "without body, parts or passions," who presides over the destinies of this world, and more especially those of New York in and about that part known as City Hall Park.

Question. Was not Mr. Jarvis right in standing by the law?

Answer. If Mr. Jarvis is right, neither Humboldt nor Darwin could have become a citizen of the United States. Wagner, the greatest of musicians, not being able to take an oath, would have been left an alien. Under this ruling Haeckel, Spencer and Tyndall would be denied citizenship—that is to say, the six greatest men produced by the human race in the nineteenth century, were and are unfit to be citizens of the United States. Those who have placed the human race in debt cannot be citizens of the Republic. On the other hand, the ignorant wife beater, the criminal, the pauper raised in the workhouse, could take the necessary oath and would be welcomed by New York "with arms outstretched as she would fly."

Question. You have quoted one statute. Is there no other applicable to this case?

Answer. I am coming to that. If Mr. Jarvis will take the pains to read not only the law of naturalization in section 2,165 of the Revised Statutes of the United States, but the very first chapter in the book, "Title I.," he will find in the very first section this sentence: "The requirements of any 'oath' shall be deemed complied with by making affirmation in official form." This applies to section 2,165. Of course an Atheist can affirm, and the statute provides that wherever an oath is required affirmation may be made.

Question. Did you read the recent action of Judge O'Gorman, of the Superior Court, in refusing naturalization papers to an applicant because he had not read the Constitution of the United States?

Answer. I did. The United States Constitution is a very important document, a good, sound document, but it is talked about a great deal more than it is read. I'll venture that you may commence at the Battery to interview merchants and other business men about the Constitution and you will talk with a hundred before you will find one who has ever read it.

New York Herald, August 8, 1886.


Question. What is your remedy, Colonel, for the labor troubles of the day?

Answer. One remedy is this: I should like to see the laboring men succeed. I should like to see them have a majority in Congress and with a President of their own. I should like to see this so that they could satisfy themselves how little, after all, can be accomplished by legislation. The moment responsibility should touch their shoulders they would become conservative. They would find that making a living in this world is an individual affair, and that each man must look out for himself. They would soon find that the Government cannot take care of the people. The people must support the Government. Everything cannot be regulated by law. The factors entering into this problem are substantially infinite and beyond the intellectual grasp of any human being. Perhaps nothing in the world will convince the laboring man how little can be accomplished by law until there is opportunity of trying. To discuss the question will do good, so I am in favor of its discussion. To give the workingmen a trial will do good, so I am in favor of giving them a trial.

Question. But you have not answered my question: I asked you what could be done, and you have told me what could not be done. Now, is there not some better organization of society that will help in this trouble?

Answer. Undoubtedly. Unless humanity is a failure, society will improve from year to year and from age to age. There will be, as the years go by, less want, less injustice, and the gifts of nature will be more equally divided, but there will never come a time when the weak can do as much as the strong, or when the mentally weak can accomplish as much as the intellectually strong. There will forever be inequality in society; but, in my judgment, the time will come when an honest, industrious person need not want. In my judgment, that will come, not through governmental control, not through governmental slavery, not through what is called Socialism, but through liberty and through individuality. I can conceive of no greater slavery than to have everything done by the Government. I want free scope given to individual effort. In time some things that governments have done will be removed. The creation of a nobility, the giving of vast rights to corporations, and the bestowment of privileges on the few will be done away with. In other words, governmental interference will cease and man will be left more to himself. The future will not do away with want by charity, which generally creates more want than it alleviates, but by justice and intelligence. Shakespeare says, "There is no darkness but ignorance," and it might be added that ignorance is the mother of most suffering.

The Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, September 30, 1886.


Question. You are intimately acquainted with the great railroad managers and the great railroad systems, and what do you think is the great need of the railways to-day?

Answer. The great need of the railroads to-day is more business, more cars, better equipments, better pay for the men and less gambling in Wall Street.

Question. Is it your experience that public men usually ride on passes?

Answer. Yes, whenever they can get them. Passes are for the rich. Only those are expected to pay who can scarcely afford it. Nothing shortens a journey, nothing makes the road as smooth, nothing keeps down the dust and keeps out the smoke like a pass.

Question. Don't you think that the pass system is an injustice —that is, that ordinary travelers are taxed for the man who rides on a pass?

Answer. Certainly, those who pay, pay for those who do not. This is one of the misfortunes of the obscure. It is so with everything. The big fish live on the little ones.

Question. Are not parallel railroads an evil?

Answer. No, unless they are too near together. Competition does some good and some harm, but it must exist. All these things must be left to take care of themselves. If the Government interferes it is at the expense of the manhood and liberty of the people.

Question. But wouldn't it be better for the people if the railroads were managed by the Government as is the Post-Office?

Answer. No, everything that individual can do should be left to them. If the Government takes charge of the people they become weak and helpless. The people should take charge of the Government. Give the folks a chance.

Question. In the next presidential contest what will be the main issue?

Answer. The Maine issue!

Question. Would you again refuse to take the stump for Mr. Blaine if he should be renominated, and if so, why?

Answer. I do not expect to take the stump for anybody. Mr. Blaine is probably a candidate, and if he is nominated there will be plenty of people on the stump—or fence—or up a tree or somewhere in the woods.

Question. What are the most glaring mistakes of Cleveland's administration?

Answer. First, accepting the nomination. Second, taking the oath of office. Third, not resigning.

Times Star, Cincinnati, September 30, 1886.


Question. How much importance do you attach to the present prohibition movement?

Answer. No particular importance. I am opposed to prohibition and always have been, and hope always to be. I do not want the Legislature to interfere in these matters. I do not believe that the people can be made temperate by law. Men and women are not made great and good by the law. There is no good in the world that cannot be abused. Prohibition fills the world with spies and tattlers, and, besides that, where a majority of the people are not in favor of it the law will not be enforced; and where a majority of the people are in favor of it there is not much need of the law. Where a majority are against it, juries will violate their oath, and witnesses will get around the truth, and the result is demoralization. Take wine and malt liquors out of the world and we shall lose a vast deal of good fellowship; the world would lose more than it would gain. There is a certain sociability about wine that I should hate to have taken from the earth. Strong liquors the folks had better let alone. If prohibition succeeds, and wines and malt liquors go, the next thing will be to take tobacco away, and the next thing all other pleasures, until prayer meetings will be the only places of enjoyment.

Question. Do you care to say who your choice is for Republican nominee for President in 1888?

Answer. I now promise that I will answer this question either in May or June, 1888. At present my choice is not fixed, and is liable to change at any moment, and I need to leave it free, so that it can change from time to time as the circumstances change. I will, however, tell you privately that I think it will probably be a new man, somebody on whom the Republicans can unite. I have made a good many inquiries myself to find out who this man is to be, but in every instance the answer has been determined by the location in which the gentleman lived who gave the answer. Let us wait.

Question. Do you think the Republican party should take a decided stand on the temperance issue?

Answer. I do; and that decided stand should be that temperance is an individual question, something with which the State and Nation have nothing to do. Temperance is a thing that the law cannot control. You might as well try to control music, painting, sculpture, or metaphysics, as the question of temperance. As life becomes more valuable, people will learn to take better care of it. There is something more to be desired even than temperance, and that is liberty. I do not believe in putting out the sun because weeds grow. I should rather have some weeds than go without wheat and corn. The Republican party should represent liberty and individuality; it should keep abreast of the real spirit of the age; the Republican party ought to be intelligent enough to know that progress has been marked not by the enactment of new laws, but by the repeal of old ones.

Evening Traveler, Boston, October, 1886.


Question. It is said, Colonel Ingersoll, that you are for Henry George?

Answer. Of course; I think it the duty of the Republicans to defeat the Democracy—a solemn duty—and I believe that they have a chance to elect George; that is to say, an opportunity to take New York from their old enemy. If the Republicans stand by George he will succeed. All the Democratic factions are going to unite to beat the workingmen. What a picture! Now is the time for the Republicans to show that all their sympathies are not given to bankers, corporations and millionaires. They were on the side of the slave—they gave liberty to millions. Let them take another step and extend their hands to the sons of toil.

My heart beats with those who bear the burdens of this poor world.

Question. Do you not think that capital is entitled to protection?

Answer. I am in favor of accomplishing all reforms in a legal and orderly way, and I want the laboring people of this country to appeal to the ballot. All classes and all interests must be content to abide the result.

I want the laboring people to show that they are intelligent enough to stand by each other. Henry George is their natural leader. Let them be true to themselves by being true to him. The great questions between capital and labor must be settled peaceably. There is no excuse for violence, and no excuse for contempt and scorn. No country can be prosperous while the workers want and the idlers waste. Those who do the most should have the most. There is no civilized country, so far as I know, but I believe there will be, and I want to hasten they day when the map of the world will give the boundaries of that blessed land.

Question. Do you agree with George's principles? Do you believe in socialism?

Answer. I do not understand that George is a Socialist. He is on the side of those that work—so am I. He wants to help those that need help—so do I. The rich can take care of themselves. I shed no tears over the miseries of capital. I think of the men in mines and factories, in huts, hovels and cellars; of the poor sewing women; of the poor, the hungry and the despairing. The world must be made better through intelligence. I do not go with the destroyers, with those that hate the successful, that hate the generous, simply because they are rich. Wealth is the surplus produced by labor, and the wealth of the world should keep the world from want.

New York Herald, October 13, 1886.


Question. What do you think of Henry George for mayor?

Answer. Several objections have been urged, not to what Mr. George has done, but to what Mr. George has thought, and he is the only candidate up to this time against whom a charge of this character could be made. Among other things, he seems to have entertained an idea to the effect that a few men should not own the entire earth; that a child coming into the world has a right to standing room, and that before he walks, his mother has a right to standing room while she holds him. He insists that if it were possible to bottle the air, and sell it as we do mineral water, it would be hardly fair for the capitalists of the world to embark in such a speculation, especially where millions were allowed to die simply because they were not able to buy breath at "pool prices." Mr. George seems to think that the time will come when capital will be intelligent enough and civilized enough to take care of itself. He has a dream that poverty and crime and all the evils that go hand in hand with partial famine, with lack of labor, and all the diseases born of living in huts and cellars, born of poor food and poor clothing and of bad habits, will disappear, and that the world will be really fit to live in. He goes so far as to insist that men ought to have more than twenty-three or twenty-four dollars a month for digging coal, and that they ought not to be compelled to spend that money in the store or saloon of the proprietor of the mine. He has also stated on several occasions that a man ought not to drive a street car for sixteen or eighteen hours a day—that even a street-car driver ought to have the privilege now and then of seeing his wife, or at least one of the children, awake. And he has gone so far as to say that a letter-carrier ought not to work longer in each day for the United States than he would for a civilized individual.

To people that imagine that this world is already perfection; that the condition of no one should be bettered except their own, these ideas seem dangerous. A man who has already amassed a million, and who has no fear for the future, and who says: "I will employ the cheapest labor and make men work as long as they can possibly endure the toil," will regard Mr. George as an impractical man. It is very probable that all of us will be dead before all the theories of Mr. George are put in practice. Some of them, however, may at some time benefit mankind; and so far as I am concerned, I am willing to help hasten the day, although it may not come while I live. I do not know that I agree with many of the theories of Mr. George. I know that I do not agree with some of them. But there is one thing in which I do agree with him, and that is, in his effort to benefit the human race, in his effort to do away with some of the evils that now afflict mankind. I sympathize with him in his endeavor to shorten the hours of labor, to increase the well- being of laboring men, to give them better houses, better food, and in every way to lighten the burdens that now bear upon their bowed backs. It may be that very little can be done by law, except to see that they are not absolutely abused; to see that the mines in which they work are supplied with air and with means of escape in time of danger; to prevent the deforming of children by forcing upon them the labor of men; to shorten the hours of toil, and to give all laborers certain liens, above all other claims, for their work. It is easy to see that in this direction something may be done by law.

Question. Colonel Ingersoll, are you a Socialist?

Answer. I am an Individualist instead of a Socialist. I am a believer in individuality and in each individual taking care of himself, and I want the Government to do just as little as it can consistently with the safety of the nation, and I want as little law as possible—only as much as will protect life, reputation and property by punishing criminals and by enforcing honest contracts. But if a government gives privileges to a few, the few must not oppress the many. The Government has no right to bestow any privilege upon any man or upon any corporation, except for the public good. That which is a special privilege to the few, should be a special benefit to the many. And whenever the privileged few abuse the privilege so that it becomes a curse to the many, the privilege, whatever it is, should be withdrawn. I do not pretend to know enough to suggest a remedy for all the evils of society. I doubt if one human mind could take into consideration the almost infinite number of factors entering into such a problem. And this fact that no one knows, is the excuse for trying. While I may not believe that a certain theory will work, still, if I feel sure it will do no harm, I am willing to see it tried.

Question. Do you think that Mr. George would make a good mayor?

Answer. I presume he would. He is a thoughtful, prudent man. His reputation for honesty has never, so far as I know, been called in question. It certainly does not take a genius to be mayor of New York. If so, there have been some years when there was hardly a mayor. I take it that a clear-headed, honest man, whose only object is to do his duty, and with courage enough to stand by his conscience, would make a good mayor of New York or of any other city.

Question. Are you in sympathy with the workingmen and their objects?

Answer. I am in sympathy with laboring men of all kinds, whether they labor with hand or brain. The Knights of Labor, I believe, do not allow a lawyer to become a member. I am somewhat wider in my sympathies. No men in the world struggle more heroically; no men in the world have suffered more, or carried a heavier cross, or worn a sharper crown of thorns, than those that have produced what we call the literature of our race. So my sympathies extend all the way from hod-carriers to sculptors; from well-diggers to astronomers. If the objects of the laboring men are to improve their condition without injuring others; to have homes and firesides, and wives and children; plenty to eat, good clothes to wear; to develop their minds, to educate their children—in short, to become prosperous and civilized, I sympathize with them, and hope they will succeed. I have not the slightest sympathy with those that wish to accomplish all these objects through brute force. A Nihilist may be forgiven in Russia—may even be praised in Russia; a Socialist may be forgiven in Germany; and certainly a Home-ruler can be pardoned in Ireland, but in the United States there is no place for Anarchist, Socialist or Dynamiter. In this country the political power has been fairly divided. Poverty has just as many votes as wealth. No man can be so poor as not to have a ballot; no man is rich enough to have two; and no man can buy another vote, unless somebody is mean enough and contemptible enough to sell; and if he does sell his vote, he never should complain about the laws or their administration. So the foolish and the wise are on an equality, and the political power of this country is divided so that each man is a sovereign.

Now, the laboring people are largely in the majority in this country. If there are any laws oppressing them, they should have them repealed. I want the laboring people—and by the word "laboring" now, I include only the men that they include by that word—to unite; I want them to show that they have the intelligence to act together, and sense enough to vote for a friend. I want them to convince both the other great parties that they cannot be purchased. This will be an immense step in the right direction.

I have sometimes thought that I should like to see the laboring men in power, so that they would realize how little, after all, can be done by law. All that any man should ask, so far as the Government is concerned, is a fair chance to compete with his neighbors. Personally, I am for the abolition of all special privileges that are not for the general good. My principal hope of the future is the civilization of my race; the development not only of the brain, but of the heart. I believe the time will come when we shall stop raising failures, when we shall know something of the laws governing human beings. I believe the time will come when we shall not produce deformed persons, natural criminals. In other words, I think the world is going to grow better and better. This may not happen to this nation or to what we call our race, but it may happen to some other race, and all that we do in the right direction hastens that day and that race.

Question. Do you think that the old parties are about to die?

Answer. It is very hard to say. The country is not old enough for tables of mortality to have been calculated upon parties. I suppose a party, like anything else, has a period of youth, of manhood and decay. The Democratic party is not dead. Some men grow physically strong as they grow mentally weak. The Democratic party lived out of office, and in disgrace, for twenty-five years, and lived to elect a President. If the Democratic party could live on disgrace for twenty-five years it now looks as though the Republican party, on the memory of its glory and of its wonderful and unparalleled achievements, might manage to creep along for a few years more.

New York World, October 26, 1886.


Question. What is your opinion of the result of the election?

Answer. I find many dead on the field whose faces I recognize. I see that Morrison has taken a "horizontal" position. Free trade seems to have received an exceedingly black eye. Carlisle, in my judgment, one of the very best men in Congress, has been defeated simply because he is a free trader, and I suppose you can account for Hurd's defeat in the same way. The people believe in protection although they generally admit that the tariff ought to be reformed. I believe in protecting "infant industries," but I do not believe in rocking the cradle when the infant is seven feet high and wears number twelve boots.

Question. Do you sympathize with the Socialists, or do you think that the success of George would promote socialism?

Answer. I have said frequently that if I lived in Russia I should in all probability be a Nihilist. I can conceive of no government that would not be as good as that of Russia, and I would consider no government far preferable to that government. Any possible state of anarchy is better than organized crime, because in the chaos of anarchy justice may be done by accident, but in a government organized for the perpetuation of slavery, and for the purpose of crushing out of the human brain every noble thought, justice does not live. In Germany I would probably be a Socialist—to this extent, that I would want the political power honestly divided among the people. I can conceive of no circumstance in which I could support Bismarck. I regard Bismarck as a projection of the Middle Ages, as a shadow that has been thrown across the sunlight of modern civilization, and in that shadow grow all the bloodless crimes. Now, in Ireland, of course, I believe in home rule. In this country I am an Individualist. The political power here is equally divided. Poverty and wealth have the same power at the ballot-box. Intelligence and ignorance are on an equality here, simply because all men have a certain interest in the government where they live. I hate above all other things the tyranny of a government. I do not want a government to send a policeman along with me to keep me from buying eleven eggs for a dozen. I will take care of myself. I want the people to do everything they can do, and the Government to keep its hands off, because if the Government attends to all these matters the people lose manhood, and in a little while become serfs, and there will arise some strong mind and some powerful hand that will reduce them to actual slavery. So I am in favor or personal liberty to the largest extent. Whenever the Government grants privileges to the few, these privileges should be for the benefit of the many, and when they cease to be for the benefit of the many, they should be taken from the few and used by the government itself for the benefit of the whole people. And I want to see in this country the Government so administered that justice will be done to all as nearly as human institutions can produce such a result. Now, I understand that in any state of society there will be failures. We have failures among the working people. We have had some failures in Congress. I will not mention the names, because your space is limited. There have been failures in the pulpit, at the bar; in fact, in every pursuit of life you will presume we shall have failures with us for a great while; at least until the establishment of the religion of the body, when we shall cease to produce failures; and I have faith enough in the human race to believe that that time will come, but I do not expect it during my life.

Question. What do you think of the income tax as a step toward the accomplishment of what you desire?

Answer. There are some objections to an income tax. First, the espionage that it produces on the part of the Government. Second, the amount of perjury that it annually produces. Men hate to have their business inquired into if they are not doing well. They often pay a very large tax to make their creditors think they are prosperous. Others by covering up, avoid the tax. But I will say this with regard to taxation: The great desideratum is stability. If we tax only the land, and that were the only tax, in a little while every other thing, and the value of every other thing, would adjust itself in relation to that tax, and perfect justice would be the result. That is to say, if it were stable long enough the burden would finally fall upon the right backs in every department. The trouble with taxation is that it is continually changing—not waiting for the adjustment that will naturally follow provided it is stable. I think the end, so far as land is concerned, could be reached by cumulative taxation—that is to say, a man with a certain amount of land paying a very small per cent., with more land, and increased per cent., and let that per cent. increase rapidly enough so that no man could afford to hold land that he did not have a use for. So I believe in cumulative taxation in regard to any kind of wealth. Let a man worth ten million dollars pay a greater per cent. than one worth one hundred thousand, because he is able to pay it. The other day a man was talking to me about having the dead pay the expenses of the Government; that whenever a man died worth say five million dollars, one million should go to the Government; that if he died worth ten million dollars, three millions should go to the Government; if he died worth twenty million dollars, eight million should go to the Government, and so on. He said that in this way the expenses of the Government could be borne by the dead. I should be in favor of cumulative taxation upon legacies— the greater the legacy, the greater the per cent. of taxation.

But, of course, I am not foolish enough to suppose that I understand these questions. I am giving you a few guesses. My only desire is to guess right. I want to see the people of this world live for this world, and I hope the time will come when a civilized man will understand that he cannot be perfectly happy while anybody else is miserable; that a perfectly civilized man could not enjoy a dinner knowing that others were starving; that he could not enjoy the richest robes if he knew that some of his fellow-men in rags and tatters were shivering in the blast. In other words, I want to carry out the idea there that I have so frequently uttered with regard to the other world; that is, that no gentleman angel could be perfectly happy knowing that somebody else was in hell.

Question. What are the chances for the Republican party in 1888?

Answer. If it will sympathize with the toilers, as it did with the slaves; if it will side with the needy; if it will only take the right side it will elect the next President. The poor should not resort to violence; the rich should appeal to the intelligence of the working people. These questions cannot be settled by envy and scorn. The motto of both parties should be: "Come, let us reason together." The Republican party was the grandest organization that ever existed. It was brave, intelligent and just. It sincerely loved the right. A certificate of membership was a patent of nobility. If it will only stand by the right again, its victorious banner will float over all the intelligent sons of toil.

The Times, Chicago, Illinois, November 4, 1886.


[* At the usual weekly meeting of the Baptist ministers at the Publication Rooms yesterday, the Rev. Dr. B. F. Morse read an essay on "Christianity vs. Materialism." His contention was that all nature showed that design, not evolution, was its origin.

In his concluding remarks Dr. Morse said that he knew from unquestionable authority, that Robert G. Ingersoll did not believe what he uttered in his lectures, and that to get out of a financial embarrassment he looked around for a money making scheme that could be put into immediate execution. To lecture against Christianity was the most rapid way of giving him the needed cash and, what was quite as acceptable to him, at the same time, notoriety.]

This aquatic or web-footed theologian who expects to go to heaven by diving is not worth answering. Nothing can be more idiotic than to answer an argument by saying he who makes it does not believe it. Belief has nothing to do with the cogency or worth of an argument. There is another thing. This man, or rather this minister, says that I attacked Christianity simply to make money. Is it possible that, after preachers have had the field for eighteen hundred years, the way to make money is to attack the clergy? Is this intended as a slander against me or the ministers?

The trouble is that my arguments cannot be answered. All the preachers in the world cannot prove that slavery is better than liberty. They cannot show that all have not an equal right to think. They cannot show that all have not an equal right to express their thoughts. They cannot show that a decent God will punish a decent man for making the best guess he can. This is all there is about it.

The Herald, New York, December 14, 1886.


The attitude of the Roman Catholic Church in Dr. McGlynn's case is consistent with the history and constitution of the Catholic Church —perfectly consistent with its ends, its objects, and its means— and just as perfectly inconsistent with intellectual liberty and the real civilization of the human race.

When a man becomes a Catholic priest, he has been convinced that he ought not to think for himself upon religious questions. He has become convinced that the church is the only teacher—that he has a right to think only to enforce its teachings. From that moment he is a moral machine. The chief engineer resides at Rome, and he gives his orders through certain assistant engineers until the one is reached who turns the crank, and the machine has nothing to do one way or the other. This machine is paid for giving up his liberty by having machines under him who have also given up theirs. While somebody else turns his crank, he has the pleasure of turning a crank belonging to somebody below him.

Of course, the Catholic Church is supposed to be the only perfect institution on earth. All others are not only imperfect, but unnecessary. All others have been made either by man, or by the Devil, or by a partnership, and consequently cannot be depended upon for the civilization of man.

The Catholic Church gets its power directly from God, and is the only institution now in the world founded by God. There was never any other, so far as I know, except polygamy and slavery and a crude kind of monarchy, and they have been, for the most part, abolished.

The Catholic Church must be true to itself. It must claim everything, and get what it can. It alone is infallible. It alone has all the wisdom of this world. It alone has the right to exist. All other interests are secondary. To be a Catholic is of the first importance. Human liberty is nothing. Wealth, position, food, clothing, reputation, happiness—all these are less than worthless compared with what the Catholic Church promises to the man who will throw all these away.

A priest must preach what his bishop tells him. A bishop must preach what his archbishop tells him. The pope must preach what he says God tells him.

Dr. McGlynn cannot make a compromise with the Catholic Church. It never compromises when it is in the majority.

I do not mean by this that the Catholic Church is worse than any other. All are alike in this regard. Every sect, no matter how insignificant; every church, no matter how powerful, asks precisely the same thing from every member—that is to say, a surrender of intellectual freedom. The Catholic Church wants the same as the Baptist, the Presbyterian, and the Methodist—it wants the whole earth. It is ambitious to be the one supreme power. It hopes to see the world upon its knees, with all its tongues thrust out for wafers. It has the arrogance of humility and the ferocity of universal forgiveness. In this respect it resembles every other sect. Every religion is a system of slavery.

Of course, the religionists say that they do not believe in persecution; that they do not believe in burning and hanging and whipping or loading with chains a man simply because he is an Infidel. They are willing to leave all this with God, knowing that a being of infinite goodness will inflict all these horrors and tortures upon an honest man who differs with the church.

In case Dr. McGlynn is deprived of his priestly functions, it is hard to say what effect it will have upon his church and the labor party in the country.

So long as a man believes that a church has eternal joy in store for him, so long as he believes that a church holds within its hand the keys of heaven and hell, it will be hard to make him trade off the hope of everlasting happiness for a few good clothes and a little good food and higher wages here. He finally thinks that, after all, he had better work for less and go a little hungry, and be an angel forever.

I hope, however, that a good many people who have been supporting the Catholic Church by giving tithes of the wages of weariness will see, and clearly see, that Catholicism is not their friend; that the church cannot and will not support them; that, on the contrary, they must support the church. I hope they will see that all the prayers have to be paid for, although not one has ever been answered. I hope they will perceive that the church is on the side of wealth and power, that the mitre is the friend of the crown, that the altar is the sworn brother of the throne. I hope they will finally know that the church cares infinitely more for the money of the millionaire than for the souls of the poor.

Of course, there are thousands of individual exceptions. I am speaking of the church as an institution, as a corporation—and when I say the church, I include all churches. It is said of corporations in general, that they have no soul, and it may truthfully be said of the church that it has less than any other. It lives on alms. It gives nothing for what it gets. It has no sympathy. Beggars never weep over the misfortunes of other beggars.

Nothing could give me more pleasure than to see the Catholic Church on the side of human freedom; nothing more pleasure than to see the Catholics of the world—those who work and weep and toil— sensible enough to know that all the money paid for superstition is worse than lost. I wish they could see that the counting of beads, and the saying of prayers and celebrating of masses, and all the kneelings and censer-swingings and fastings and bell-ringing, amount to less than nothing—that all these things tend only to the degradation of mankind. It is hard, I know, to find an antidote for a poison that was mingled with a mother's milk.

The laboring masses, so far as the Catholics are concerned, are filled with awe and wonder and fear about the church. This fear began to grow while they were being rocked in their cradles, and they still imagine that the church has some mysterious power; that it is in direct communication with some infinite personality that could, if it desired, strike then dead, or damn their souls forever. Persons who have no such belief, who care nothing for popes or priests or churches or heavens or hells or devils or gods, have very little idea of the power of fear.

The old dogmas filled the brain with strange monsters. The soul of the orthodox Christian gropes and wanders and crawls in a kind of dungeon, where the strained eyes see fearful shapes, and the frightened flesh shrinks from the touch of serpents.

The good part of Christianity—that is to say, kindness, morality —will never go down. The cruel part ought to go down. And by the cruel part I mean the doctrine of eternal punishment—of allowing the good to suffer for the bad—allowing innocence to pay the debt of guilt. So the foolish part of Christianity—that is to say, the miraculous—will go down. The absurd part must perish. But there will be no war about it as there was in France. Nobody believes enough in the foolish part of Christianity now to fight for it. Nobody believes with intensity enough in miracles to shoulder a musket. There is probably not a Christian in New York willing to fight for any story, no matter if the story is so old that it is covered with moss. No mentally brave and intelligent man believes in miracles, and no intelligent man cares whether there was a miracle or not, for the reason that every intelligent man knows that the miraculous has no possible connection with the moral. "Thou shalt not steal," is just as good a commandment if it should turn out that the flood was a drouth. "Thou shalt not murder," is a good and just and righteous law, and whether any particular miracle was ever performed or not has nothing to do with the case. There is no possible relation between these things.

I am on the side not only of the physically oppressed, but of the mentally oppressed. I hate those who put lashes on the body, and I despise those who put the soul in chains. In other words, I am in favor of liberty. I do not wish that any man should be the slave of his fellow-men, or that the human race should be the slaves of any god, real or imaginary. Man has the right to think for himself, to work for himself, to take care of himself, to get bread for himself, to get a home for himself. He has a right to his own opinion about God, and heaven and hell; the right to learn any art or mystery or trade; the right to work for whom he will, for what he will, and when he will.

The world belongs to the human race. There is to be no war in this country on religious opinions, except a war of words—a conflict of thoughts, of facts; and in that conflict the hosts of superstition will go down. They may not be defeated to-day, or to-morrow, or next year, or during this century, but they are growing weaker day by day.

This priest, McGlynn, has the courage to stand up against the propaganda. What would have been his fate a few years ago? What would have happened to him in Spain, in Portugal, in Italy—in any other country that was Catholic—only a few years ago? Yet he stands here in New York, he refuses to obey God's vicegerent; he freely gives his mind to an archbishop; he holds the holy Inquisition in contempt. He has done a great thing. He is undoubtedly an honest man. He never should have been a Catholic. He has no business in that church. He has ideas of his own—theories, and seems to be governed by principles. The Catholic Church is not his place. If he remains, he must submit, he must kneel in the humility of abjectness; he must receive on the back of his independence the lashes of the church. If he remains, he must ask the forgiveness of slaves for having been a man. If he refuses to submit, the church will not have him. He will be driven to take his choice— to remain a member, humiliated, shunned, or go out into the great, free world a citizen of the Republic, with the rights, responsibilities, and duties of an American citizen.

I believe that Dr. McGlynn is an honest man, and that he really believes in the land theories of Mr. George. I have no confidence in his theories, but I have confidence that he is actuated by the best and noblest motives.

Question. Are you to go on the lecture platform again?

Answer. I expect to after a while. I am now waiting for the church to catch up. I got so far ahead that I began almost to sympathize with the clergy. They looked so helpless and talked in such a weak, wandering, and wobbling kind of way that I felt as though I had been cruel. From the papers I see that they are busy trying to find out who the wife of Cain was. I see that the Rev. Dr. Robinson, of New York, is now wrestling with that problem. He begins to be in doubt whether Adam was the first man, whether Eve was the first woman; suspects that there were other races, and that Cain did not marry his sister, but somebody else's sister, and that the somebody else was not Cain's brother. One can hardly over- estimate the importance of these questions, they have such a direct bearing on the progress of the world. If it should turn out that Adam was the first man, or that he was not the first man, something might happen—I am not prepared to say what, but it might.

It is a curious kind of a spectacle to see a few hundred people paying a few thousand dollars a year for the purpose of hearing these great problems discussed: "Was Adam the first man?" "Who was Cain's wife?" "Has anyone seen a map of the land of Nod?" "Where are the four rivers that ran murmuring through the groves of Paradise?" "Who was the snake? How did he walk? What language did he speak?" This turns a church into a kind of nursery, makes a cradle of each pew, and gives to each member a rattle with which he can amuse what he calls his mind.

The great theologians of Andover—the gentlemen who wear the brass collars furnished by the dead founder—have been disputing among themselves as to what is to become of the heathen who fortunately died before meeting any missionary from that institution. One can almost afford to be damned hereafter for the sake of avoiding the dogmas of Andover here. Nothing more absurd and childish has ever happened—not in the intellectual, but in the theological world.

There is no need of the Freethinkers saying anything at present. The work is being done by the church members themselves. They are beginning to ask questions of the clergy. They are getting tired of the old ideas—tired of the consolations of eternal pain—tired of hearing about hell—tired of hearing the Bible quoted or talked about—tired of the scheme of redemption—tired of the Trinity, of the plenary inspiration of the barbarous records of a barbarous people—tired of the patriarchs and prophets—tired of Daniel and the goats with three horns, and the image with the clay feet, and the little stone that rolled down the hill—tired of the mud man and the rib woman—tired of the flood of Noah, of the astronomy of Joshua, the geology of Moses—tired of Kings and Chronicles and Lamentations—tired of the lachrymose Jeremiah—tired of the monstrous, the malicious, and the miraculous. In short, they are beginning to think. They have bowed their necks to the yoke of ignorance and fear and impudence and superstition, until they are weary. They long to be free. They are tired of the services— tired of the meaningless prayers—tired of hearing each other say, "Hear us, good Lord"—tired of the texts, tired of the sermons, tired of the lies about spontaneous combustion as a punishment for blasphemy, tired of the bells, and they long to hear the doxology of superstition. They long to have Common Sense lift its hands in benediction and dismiss the congregation.

Brooklyn Citizen, April, 1886.


Question. What do you think of the trial of the Chicago Anarchists and their chances for a new trial?

Answer. I have paid some attention to the evidence and to the rulings of the court, and I have read the opinion of the Supreme Court of Illinois, in which the conviction is affirmed. Of course these men were tried during a period of great excitement—tried when the press demanded their conviction—when it was asserted that society was on the edge of destruction unless these men were hanged. Under such circumstances, it is not easy to have a fair and impartial trial. A judge should either sit beyond the reach of prejudice, in some calm that storms cannot invade, or he should be a kind of oak that before any blast he would stand erect. It is hard to find such a place as I have suggested and not easy to find such a man. We are all influenced more or less by our surroundings, by the demands and opinions and feelings and prejudices of our fellow- citizens. There is a personality made up of many individuals known as society. This personality has prejudices like an individual. It often becomes enraged, acts without the slightest sense, and repents at its leisure. It is hard to reason with a mob whether organized or disorganized, whether acting in the name of the law or of simple brute force. But in any case, where people refuse to be governed by reason, they become a mob.

Question. Do you not think that these men had a fair trial?

Answer. I have no doubt that the court endeavored to be fair— no doubt that Judge Gary is a perfectly honest, upright man, but I think his instructions were wrong. He instructed the jury to the effect that where men have talked in a certain way, and where the jury believed that the result of such talk might be the commission of a crime, that such men are responsible for that crime. Of course, there is neither law nor sense in an instruction like this. I hold that it must have been the intention of the man making the remark, or publishing the article, or doing the thing—it must have been his intention that the crime should be committed. Men differ as to the effect of words, and a man may say a thing with the best intentions the result of which is a crime, and he may say a thing with the worst of intentions and the result may not be a crime. The Supreme Court of Illinois seemed to have admitted that the instructions were wrong, but took the ground that it made no difference with the verdict. This is a dangerous course for the court of last resort to pursue; neither is it very complimentary to the judge who tried the case, that his instructions had no effect upon the jury. Under the instructions of the court below, any man who had been arrested with the seven Anarchists and of whom it could be proved that he had ever said a word in favor of any change in government, or of other peculiar ideas, no matter whether he knew of the meeting at the Haymarket or not, would have been convicted.

I am satisfied that the defendant Fielden never intended to harm a human being. As a matter of fact, the evidence shows that he was making a speech in favor of peace at the time of the occurrence. The evidence also shows that he was an exceedingly honest, industrious, and a very poor and philanthropic man.

Question. Do you uphold the Anarchists?

Answer. Certainly not. There is no place in this country for the Anarchist. The source of power here is the people, and to attack the political power is to attack the people. If the laws are oppressive, it is the fault of the oppressed. If the laws touch the poor and leave them without redress, it is the fault of the poor. They are in a majority. The men who work for their living are the very men who have the power to make every law that is made in the United States. There is no excuse for any resort to violence in this country. The boycotting by trades unions and by labor organizations is all wrong. Let them resort to legal methods and to no other. I have not the slightest sympathy with the methods that have been pursued by Anarchists, or by Socialists, or by any other class that has resorted to force or intimidation. The ballot-box is the place to assemble. The will of the people can be made known in that way, and their will can be executed. At the same time, I think I understand what has produced the Anarchist, the Socialist, and the agitator. In the old country, a laboring man, poorly clad, without quite enough to eat, with a wife in rags, with a few children asking for bread—this laboring man sees the idle enjoying every luxury of this life; he sees on the breast of "my lady" a bonfire of diamonds; he sees "my lord" riding in his park; he sees thousands of people who from the cradle to the grave do no useful act; add nothing to the intellectual or the physical wealth of the world; he sees labor living in the tenement house, in the hut; idleness and nobility in the mansion and the palace; the poor man a trespasser everywhere except upon the street, where he is told to "move on," and in the dusty highways of the country. That man naturally hates the government—the government of the few, the government that lives on the unpaid labor of the many, the government that takes the child from the parents, and puts him in the army to fight the child of another poor man and woman in some other country. These Anarchists, these Socialists, these agitators, have been naturally produced. All the things of which I have spoken sow in the breast of poverty the seeds of hatred and revolution. These poor men, hunted by the officers of the law, cornered, captured, imprisoned, excite the sympathy of other poor men, and if some are dragged to the gallows and hanged, or beheaded by the guillotine, they become saints and martyrs, and those who sympathize with them feel that they have the power, and only the power of hatred—the power of riot, of destruction—the power of the torch, of revolution, that is to say, of chaos and anarchy. The injustice of the higher classes makes the lower criminal. Then there is another thing. The misery of the poor excites in many noble breasts sympathy, and the men who thus sympathize wish to better the condition of their fellows. At first they depend upon reason, upon calling the attention of the educated and powerful to the miseries of the poor. Nothing happens, no result follows. The Juggernaut of society moves on, and the wretches are still crushed beneath the great wheels. These men who are really good at first, filled with sympathy, now become indignant—they are malicious, then destructive and criminal. I do not sympathize with these methods, but I do sympathize with the general object that all good and generous people seek to accomplish—namely, to better the condition of the human race. Only the other day, in Boston, I said that we ought to take into consideration the circumstances under which the Anarchists were reared; that we ought to know that every man is necessarily produced; that man is what he is, not by accident, but necessity; that society raises its own criminals—that it plows the soil and cultivates and harvests the crop. And it was telegraphed that I had defended anarchy. Nothing was ever further from my mind. There is no place, as I said before, for anarchy in the United States. In Russia it is another question; in Germany another question. Every country that is governed by the one man, or governed by the few, is the victim of anarchy. That is anarchy. That is the worst possible form of socialism. The definition of socialism given by its bitterest enemy is, that idlers wish to live on the labor and on the money of others. Is not this definition—a definition given in hatred—a perfect definition of every monarchy and of nearly every government in the world? That is to say: The idle few live on the labor and the money of others.

Question. Will the Supreme Court take cognizance of this case and prevent the execution of the judgment?

Answer. Of course it is impossible for me to say. At the same time, judging from the action of Justice Miller in the case of The People vs. Maxwell, it seems probable that the Supreme Court may interfere, but I have not examined the question sufficiently to form an opinion. My feeling about the whole matter is this: That it will not tend to answer the ideas advanced by these men, to hang them. Their execution will excite sympathy among thousands and thousands of people who have never examined and knew nothing of the theories advanced by the Anarchists, or the Socialists, or other agitators. In my judgment, supposing the men to be guilty, it is far better to imprison them. Less harm will be done the cause of free government. We are not on the edge of any revolution. No other government is as firmly fixed as ours. No other government has such a broad and splendid foundation. We have nothing to fear. Courage and safety can afford to be generous—can afford to act without haste and without the feeling of revenge. So, for my part, I hope that the sentence may be commuted, and that these men, if found guilty at last, may be imprisoned. This course is, in my judgment, the safest to pursue. It may be that I am led to this conclusion, because of my belief that every man does as he must. This belief makes me charitable toward all the world. This belief makes me doubt the wisdom of revenge. This belief, so far as I am concerned, blots from our language the word "punishment." Society has a right to protect itself, and it is the duty of society to reform, in so far as it may be possible, any member who has committed what is called a crime. Where the criminal cannot be reformed, and the safety of society can be secured by his imprisonment, there is no possible excuse for destroying his life. After these six or seven men have been, in accordance with the forms of law, strangled to death, there will be a few pieces of clay, and about them will gather a few friends, a few admirers—and these pieces will be buried, and over the grave will be erected a monument, and those who were executed as criminals will be regarded by thousands as saints. It is far better for society to have a little mercy. The effect upon the community will be good. If these men are imprisoned, people will examine their teachings without prejudice. If they are executed, seen through the tears of pity, their virtues, their sufferings, their heroism, will be exaggerated; others may emulate their deeds, and the gulf between the rich and the poor will be widened—a gulf that may not close until it has devoured the noblest and the best.

The Mail and Express, New York, November 3, 1887.


Question. What do you think of the Methodist minister at Nashville, Tenn., who, from his pulpit, denounced the theatrical profession, without exception, as vicious, and of the congregation which passed resolutions condemning Miss Emma Abbott for rising in church and contradicting him, and of the Methodist bishop who likened her to a "painted courtesan," and invoked the aid of the law "for the protection of public worship" against "strolling players"?

Answer. The Methodist minister of whom you speak, without doubt uttered his real sentiments. The church has always regarded the stage as a rival, and all its utterances have been as malicious as untrue. It has always felt that the money given to the stage was in some way taken from the pulpit. It is on this principle that the pulpit wishes everything, except the church, shut up on Sunday. It knows that it cannot stand free and open competition.

All well-educated ministers know that the Bible suffers by a comparison with Shakespeare. They know that there is nothing within the lids of what they call "the sacred book" that can for one moment stand side by side with "Lear" or "Hamlet" or "Julius Caesar" or "Antony and Cleopatra" or with any other play written by the immortal man. They know what a poor figure the Davids and the Abrahams and the Jeremiahs and the Lots, the Jonahs, the Jobs and the Noahs cut when on the stage with the great characters of Shakespeare. For these reasons, among others, the pulpit is malicious and hateful when it thinks of the glories of the stage. What minister is there now living who could command the prices commanded by Edwin Booth or Joseph Jefferson; and what two clergymen, by making a combination, could contend successfully with Robson and Crane? How many clergymen would it take to command, at regular prices, the audiences that attend the presentation of Wagner's operas?

It is very easy to see why the pulpit attacks the stage. Nothing could have been in more wretched taste than for the minister to condemn Miss Emma Abbott for rising in church and defending not only herself, but other good women who are doing honest work for an honest living. Of course, no minister wishes to be answered; no minister wishes to have anyone in the congregation call for the proof. A few questions would break up all the theology in the world. Ministers can succeed only when congregations keep silent. When superstition succeeds, doubt must be dumb.

The Methodist bishop who attacked Miss Abbott simply repeated the language of several centuries ago. In the laws of England actors were described as "sturdy vagrants," and this bishop calls them "strolling players." If we only had some strolling preachers like Garrick, like Edwin Forrest, or Booth or Barrett, or some crusade sisters like Mrs. Siddons, Madam Ristori, Charlotte Cushman, or Madam Modjeska, how fortunate the church would be!

Question. What is your opinion of the relative merits of the pulpit and the stage, preachers and actors?

Answer. We must remember that the stage presents an ideal life. It is a world controlled by the imagination—a world in which the justice delayed in real life may be done, and in which that may happen which, according to the highest ideal, should happen. It is a world, for the most part, in which evil does not succeed, in which the vicious are foiled, in which the right, the honest, the sincere, and the good prevail. It cultivates the imagination, and in this respect is far better than the pulpit. The mission of the pulpit is to narrow and shrivel the human mind. The pulpit denounces the freedom of thought and of expression; but on the stage the mind is free, and for thousands of years the poor, the oppressed, the enslaved, have been permitted to witness plays wherein the slave was freed, wherein the oppressed became the victor, and where the downtrodden rose supreme.

And there is another thing. The stage has always laughed at the spirit of caste. The low-born lass has loved the prince. All human distinctions in this ideal world have for the moment vanished, while honesty and love have triumphed. The stage lightens the cares of life. The pulpit increases the tears and groans of man. There is this difference: The pretence of honesty and the honesty of pretence.

Question. How do you view the Episcopalian scheme of building a six-million-dollar untaxed cathedral in this city for the purpose of "uniting the sects," and, when that is accomplished, "unifying the world in the love of Christ," and thereby abolishing misery?

Answer. I regard the building of an Episcopal cathedral simply as a piece of religious folly. The world will never be converted by Christian palaces and temples. Every dollar used in its construction will be wasted. It will have no tendency to unite the various sects; on the contrary, it will excite the envy and jealousy of every other sect. It will widen the gulf between the Episcopalian and the Methodist, between the Episcopalian and the Presbyterian, and this hatred will continue until the other sects build a cathedral just a little larger, and then the envy and the hatred will be on the other side.

Religion will never unify the world, and never will give peace to mankind. There has been more war in the last eighteen hundred years than during any similar period within historic times. War will be abolished, if it ever is abolished, not by religion, but by intelligence. It will be abolished when the poor people of Germany, of France, of Spain, of England, and other countries find that they have no interest in war. When those who pay, and those who do the fighting, find that they are simply destroying their own interests, wars will cease.

There ought to be a national court to decide national difficulties. We consider a community civilized when the individuals of that community submit their differences to a legal tribunal; but there being no national court, nations now sustain, as to each other, the relation of savages—that is to say, each one must defend its rights by brute force. The establishment of a national court civilizes nations, and tends to do away with war.

Christianity caused so much war, so much bloodshed, that Christians were forced to interpolate a passage to account for their history, and the interpolated passage is, "I came not to bring peace, but a sword." Suppose that all the money wasted in cathedrals in the Middle Ages had been used for the construction of schoolhouses, academies, and universities, how much better the world would have been! Suppose that instead of supporting hundreds of thousands of idle priests, the money had been given to men of science, for the purpose of finding out something of benefit to the human race here in this world.

Question. What is your opinion of "Christian charity" and the "fatherhood of God" as an economic polity for abolishing poverty and misery?

Answer. Of course, the world is not to be civilized and clothed and fed through charity. Ordinary charity creates more want than it alleviates. The greatest possible charity is the greatest possible justice. When proper wages are paid, when every one is as willing to give what a thing is worth as he is now willing to get it for less, the world will be fed and clothed.

I believe in helping people to help themselves. I believe that corporations, and successful men, and superior men intellectually, should do all within their power to keep from robbing their fellow- men. The superior man should protect the inferior. The powerful should be the shield of the weak. To-day it is, for the most part, exactly the other way. The failures among men become the food of success.

The world is to grow better and better through intelligence, through a development of the brain, through taking advantage of the forces of nature, through science, through chemistry, and through the arts. Religion can do nothing except to sow the seeds of discord between men and nations. Commerce, manufactures, and the arts tend to peace and the well-being of the world. What is known as religion —that is to say, a system by which this world is wasted in preparation for another—a system in which the duties of men are greater to God than to his fellow-men—a system that denies the liberty of thought and expression—tends only to discord and retrogression. Of course, I know that religious people cling to the Bible on account of the good that is in it, and in spite of the bad, and I know that Freethinkers throw away the Bible on account of the bad that is in it, in spite of the good. I hope the time will come when that book will be treated like other books, and will be judged upon its merits, apart from the fiction of inspiration. The church has no right to speak of charity, because it is an object of charity itself. It gives nothing; all it can do is to receive. At best, it is only a respectable beggar. I never care to hear one who receives alms pay a tribute to charity. The one who gives alms should pay this tribute. The amount of money expended upon churches and priests and all the paraphernalia of superstition, is more than enough to drive the wolves from the doors of the world.

Question. Have you noticed the progress Catholics are making in the Northwest, discontinuing public schools, and forcing people to send their children to the parochial schools; also, at Pittsburg, Pa., a Roman Catholic priest has been elected principal of a public school, and he has appointed nuns as assistant teachers?

Answer. Sectarian schools ought not to be supported by public taxation. It is the very essence of religious tyranny to compel a Methodist to support a Catholic school, or to compel a Catholic to support a Baptist academy. Nothing should be taught in the public schools that the teachers do not know. Nothing should be taught about any religion, and nothing should be taught that can, in any way, be called sectarian. The sciences are not religion. There is no such thing as Methodist mathematics, or Baptist botany. In other words, no religion has anything to do with facts. The facts are all secular; the sciences are all of this world. If Catholics wish to establish their own schools for the purpose of preserving their ignorance, they have the right to do so; so has any other denomination. But in this country the State has no right to teach any form of religion whatever. Persons of all religions have the right to advocate and defend any religion in which they believe, or they have the right to denounce all religions. If the Catholics establish parochial schools, let them support such schools; and if they do, they will simply lessen or shorten the longevity of that particular superstition. It has often been said that nothing will repeal a bad law as quickly as its enforcement. So, in my judgment, nothing will destroy any church as certainly, and as rapidly, as for the members of that church to live squarely up to the creed. The church is indebted to its hypocrisy to-day for its life. No orthodox church in the United States dare meet for the purpose of revising the creed. They know that the whole thing would fall to pieces.

Nothing could be more absurd than for a Roman Catholic priest to teach a public school, assisted by nuns. The Catholic Church is the enemy of human progress; it teaches every man to throw away his reason, to deny his observation and experience.

Question. Your opinions have frequently been quoted with regard to the Anarchists—with regard to their trial and execution. Have you any objection to stating your real opinion in regard to the matter?

Answer. Not in the least. I am perfectly willing that all civilized people should know my opinions on any question in which others than myself can have any interest.

I was anxious, in the first place, that the defendants should have a fair and impartial trial. The worst form of anarchy is when a judge violates his conscience and bows to a popular demand. A court should care nothing for public opinion. An honest judge decides the law, not as it ought to be, but as it is, and the state of the public mind throws no light upon the question of what the law then is.

I thought that some of the rulings on the trial of the Anarchists were contrary to law. I think so still. I have read the opinion of the Supreme Court of Illinois, and while the conclusion reached by that tribunal is the law of that case, I was not satisfied with the reasons given, and do not regard the opinion as good law. There is no place for an Anarchist in the United States. There is no excuse for any resort to force; and it is impossible to use language too harsh or too bitter in denouncing the spirit of anarchy in this country. But, no matter how bad a man is, he has the right to be fairly tried; and if he cannot be fairly tried, then there is anarchy on the bench. So I was opposed to the execution of these men. I thought it would have been far better to commute the punishment to imprisonment, and I said so; and I not only said so, but I wrote a letter to Governor Oglesby, in which I urged the commutation of the death sentence. In my judgment, a great mistake was made. I am on the side of mercy, and if I ever make mistakes, I hope they will all be made on that side. I have not the slightest sympathy with the feeling of revenge. Neither have I ever admitted, and I never shall, that every citizen has not the right to give his opinion on all that may be done by any servant of the people, by any judge, or by any court, by any officer—however small or however great. Each man in the United States is a sovereign, and a king can freely speak his mind.

Words were put in my mouth that I never uttered with regard to the Anarchists. I never said that they were saints, or that they would be martyrs. What I said was that they would be regarded as saints and martyrs by many people if they were executed, and that has happened which I said would happen. I am, so far as I know, on the side of the right. I wish, above all things, for the preservation of human liberty. This Government is the best, and we should not lose confidence in liberty. Property is of very little value in comparison with freedom. A civilization that rests on slavery is utterly worthless. I do not believe in sacrificing all there is of value in the human heart, or in the human brain, for the preservation of what is called property, or rather, on account of the fear that what is called "property" may perish. Property is in no danger while man is free. It is the freedom of man that gives value to property. It is the happiness of the human race that creates what we call value. If we preserve liberty, the spirit of progress, the conditions of development, property will take care of itself.

Question. The Christian press during the past few months has been very solicitous as to your health, and has reported you weak and feeble physically, and not only so, but asserts that there is a growing disposition on your part to lay down your arms, and even to join the church.

Answer. I do not think the Christian press has been very solicitous about my health. Neither do I think that my health will ever add to theirs. The fact is, I am exceedingly well, and my throat is better than it has been for many years. Any one who imagines that I am disposed to lay down my arms can read by Reply to Dr. Field in the November number of the North American Review. I see no particular difference in myself, except this; that my hatred of superstition becomes a little more and more intense; on the other hand, I see more clearly, that all the superstitions were naturally produced, and I am now satisfied that every man does as he must, including priests and editors of religious papers.

This gives me hope for the future. We find that certain soil, with a certain amount of moisture and heat, produces good corn, and we find when the soil is poor, or when the ground is too wet, or too dry, that no amount of care can, by any possibility, produce good corn. In other words, we find that the fruit, that is to say, the result, whatever it may be, depends absolutely upon the conditions. This being so, we will in time find out the conditions that produce good, intelligent, honest men. This is the hope for the future. We shall know better than to rely on what is called reformation, or regeneration, or a resolution born of ignorant excitement. We shall rely, then, on the eternal foundation—the fact in nature— that like causes produce like results, and that good conditions will produce good people.

Question. Every now and then some one challenges you to a discussion, and nearly every one who delivers lectures, or speeches, attacking you, or your views, says that you are afraid publicly to debate these questions. Why do you not meet these men, and why do you not answer these attacks?

Answer. In the first place, it would be a physical impossibility to reply to all the attacks that have been made—to all the "answers." I receive these attacks, and these answers, and these lectures almost every day. Hundreds of them are delivered every year. A great many are put in pamphlet form, and, of course, copies are received by me. Some of them I read, at least I look them over, and I have never yet received one worthy of the slightest notice, never one in which the writer showed the slightest appreciation of the questions under discussion. All these pamphlets are about the same, and they could, for the matter, have all been produced by one person. They are impudent, shallow, abusive, illogical, and in most respects, ignorant. So far as the lecturers are concerned, I know of no one who has yet said anything that challenges a reply. I do not think a single paragraph has been produced by any of the gentlemen who have replied to me in public, that is now remembered by reason of its logic or beauty. I do not feel called upon to answer any argument that does not at least appear to be of value. Whenever any article appears worthy of an answer, written in a kind and candid spirit, it gives me pleasure to reply.

I should like to meet some one who speaks by authority, some one who really understands his creed, but I cannot afford to waste time on little priests or obscure parsons or ignorant laymen.

The Truth Seeker, New York, January 14, 1888.


Question. What is Mr. Conkling's place in the political history of the United States?

Answer. Upon the great questions Mr. Conkling has been right. During the war he was always strong and clear, unwavering and decided. His position was always known. He was right on reconstruction, on civil rights, on the currency, and, so far as I know, on all important questions. He will be remembered as an honest, fearless man. He was admired for his known integrity. He was never even suspected of being swayed by an improper consideration. He was immeasurably above purchase.

His popularity rested upon his absolute integrity. He was not adapted for a leader, because he would yield nothing. He had no compromise in his nature. He went his own road and he would not turn aside for the sake of company. His individuality was too marked and his will too imperious to become a leader in a republic. There is a great deal of individuality in this country, and a leader must not appear to govern and must not demand obedience. In the Senate he was a leader. He settled with no one.

Question. What essentially American idea does he stand for?

Answer. It is a favorite saying in this country that the people are sovereigns. Mr. Conkling felt this to be true, and he exercised what he believed to be his rights. He insisted upon the utmost freedom for himself. He settled with no one but himself. He stands for individuality—for the freedom of the citizen, the independence of the man. No lord, no duke, no king was ever prouder of his title or his place than Mr. Conkling was of his position and his power. He was thoroughly American in every drop of his blood.

Question. What have you to say about his having died with sealed lips?

Answer. Mr. Conkling was too proud to show wounds. He did not tell his sorrows to the public. It seemed sufficient to him to know the facts himself. He seemed to have great confidence in time, and he had the patience to wait. Of course he could have told many things that would have shed light on many important events, but for my part I think he acted in the noblest way.

He was a striking and original figure in our politics. He stood alone. I know of no one like him. He will be remembered as a fearless and incorruptible statesman, a great lawyer, a magnificent speaker, and an honest man.

The Herald, New York, April 19, 1888.


Question. I have come to talk with you a little about the drama. Have you any decided opinions on that subject?

Answer. Nothing is more natural than imitation. The little child with her doll, telling it stories, putting words in its mouth, attributing to it the feelings of happiness and misery, is the simple tendency toward the drama. Little children always have plays, they imitate their parents, they put on the clothes of their elders, they have imaginary parties, carry on conversation with imaginary persons, have little dishes filled with imaginary food, pour tea and coffee out of invisible pots, receive callers, and repeat what they have heard their mothers say. This is simply the natural drama, an exercise of the imagination which always has been and which, probably, always will be, a source of great pleasure. In the early days of the world nothing was more natural than for the people to re-enact the history of their country—to represent the great heroes, the great battles, and the most exciting scenes the history of which has been preserved by legend. I believe this tendency to re-enact, to bring before the eyes the great, the curious, and pathetic events of history, has been universal. All civilized nations have delighted in the theatre, and the greatest minds in many countries have been devoted to the drama, and, without doubt, the greatest man about whom we know anything devoted his life to the production of plays.

Question. I would like to ask you why, in your opinion as a student of history, has the Protestant Church always been so bitterly opposed to the theatre?

Answer. I believe the early Christians expected the destruction of the world. They had no idea of remaining here, in the then condition of things, but for a few days. They expected that Christ would come again, that the world would be purified by fire, that all the unbelievers would be burned up and that the earth would become a fit habitation for the followers of the Saviour. Protestantism became as ascetic as the early Christians. It is hard to conceive of anybody believing in the "Five Points" of John Calvin going to any place of amusement. The creed of Protestantism made life infinitely sad and made man infinitely responsible. According to this creed every man was liable at any moment to be summoned to eternal pain; the most devout Christian was not absolutely sure of salvation. This life was a probationary one. Everybody was considered as waiting on the dock of time, sitting on his trunk, expecting the ship that was to bear him to an eternity of good or evil—probably evil. They were in no state of mind to enjoy burlesque or comedy, and, so far as tragedy was concerned, their own lives and their own creeds were tragic beyond anything that could by any possibility happen in this world. A broken heart was nothing to be compared with a damned soul; the afflictions of a few years, with the flames of eternity. This, to say the least of it, accounts, in part, for the hatred that Protestantism always bore toward the stage. Of course, the churches have always regarded the theatre as a rival and have begrudged the money used to support the stage. You know that Macaulay said the Puritans objected to bear-baiting, not because they pitied the bears, but because they hated to see the people enjoy themselves. There is in this at least a little truth. Orthodox religion has always been and always will be the enemy of happiness. This world is not the place for enjoyment. This is the place to suffer. This is the place to practice self-denial, to wear crowns of thorns; the other world is the place for joy, provided you are fortunate enough to travel the narrow, grass-grown path. Of course, wicked people can be happy here. People who care nothing for the good of others, who live selfish and horrible lives, are supposed by Christians to enjoy themselves; consequently, they will be punished in another world. But whoever carried the cross of decency, and whoever denied himself to that degree that he neither stole nor forged nor murdered, will be paid for this self-denial in another world. And whoever said that he preferred a prayer-meeting with five or six queer old men and two or three very aged women, with one or two candles, and who solemnly affirmed that he enjoyed that far more than he could a play of Shakespeare, was expected with much reason, I think, to be rewarded in another world.

Question. Do you think that church people were justified in their opposition to the drama in the days when Congreve, Wycherley and Ben Jonson were the popular favorites?

Answer. In that time there was a great deal of vulgarity in many of the plays. Many things were said on the stage that the people of this age would not care to hear, and there was not very often enough wit in the saying to redeem it. My principal objection to Congreve, Wycherley and most of their contemporaries is that the plays were exceedingly poor and had not much in them of real, sterling value. The Puritans, however, did not object on account of the vulgarity; that was not the honest objection. No play was ever put upon the English stage more vulgar then the "Table Talk" of Martin Luther, and many sermons preached in that day were almost unrivaled for vulgarity. The worst passages in the Old Testament were quoted with a kind of unction that showed a love for the vulgar. And, in my judgment, the worst plays were as good as the sermons, and the theatre of that time was better adapted to civilize mankind, to soften the human heart, and to make better men and better women, than the pulpit of that day. The actors, in my judgment, were better people than the preachers. They had in them more humanity, more real goodness and more appreciation of beauty, of tenderness, of generosity and of heroism. Probably no religion was ever more thoroughly hateful than Puritanism. But all religionists who believe in an eternity of pain would naturally be opposed to everything that makes this life better; and, as a matter of fact, orthodox churches have been the enemies of painting, of sculpture, of music and the drama.

Question. What, in your estimation, is the value of the drama as a factor in our social life at the present time?

Answer. I believe that the plays of Shakespeare are the most valuable things in the possession of the human race. No man can read and understand Shakespeare without being an intellectually developed man. If Shakespeare could be as widely circulated as the Bible—if all the Bible societies would break the plates they now have and print Shakespeare, and put Shakespeare in all the languages of the world, nothing would so raise the intellectual standard of mankind. Think of the different influence on men between reading Deuteronomy and "Hamlet" and "King Lear"; between studying Numbers and the "Midsummer Night's Dream"; between pondering over the murderous crimes and assassinations in Judges, and studying "The Tempest" or "As You Like It." Man advances as he develops intellectually. The church teaches obedience. The man who reads Shakespeare has his intellectual horizon enlarged. He begins to think for himself, and he enjoys living in a new world. The characters of Shakespeare become his acquaintances. He admires the heroes, the philosophers; he laughs with the clowns, and he almost adores the beautiful women, the pure, loving, and heroic women born of Shakespeare's heart and brain. The stage has amused and instructed the world. It had added to the happiness of mankind. It has kept alive all arts. It is in partnership with all there is of beauty, of poetry, and expression. It goes hand in hand with music, with painting, with sculpture, with oratory, with philosophy, and history. The stage has humor. It abhors stupidity. It despises hypocrisy. It holds up to laughter the peculiarities, the idiosyncrasies, and the little insanities of mankind. It thrusts the spear of ridicule through the shield of pretence. It laughs at the lugubrious and it has ever taught and will, in all probability, forever teach, that Man is more than a title, and that human love laughs at all barriers, at all the prejudices of society and caste that tend to keep apart two loving hearts.

Question. What is your opinion of the progress of the drama in educating the artistic sense of the community as compared with the progress of the church as an educator of the moral sentiment?

Answer. Of course, the stage is not all good, nor is—and I say this with becoming modesty—the pulpit all bad. There have been bad actors and there have been good preachers. There has been no improvement in plays since Shakespeare wrote. There has been great improvement in theatres, and the tendency seems to me be toward higher artistic excellence in the presentation of plays. As we become slowly civilized we will constantly demand more artistic excellence. There will always be a class satisfied with the lowest form of dramatic presentation, with coarse wit, with stupid but apparent jokes, and there will always be a class satisfied with almost anything; but the class demanding the highest, the best, will constantly increase in numbers, and the other classes will, in all probability, correspondingly decrease. The church has ceased to be an educator. In an artistic direction it never did anything except in architecture, and that ceased long ago. The followers of to-day are poor copyists. The church has been compelled to be a friend of, or rather to call in the assistance of, music. As a moral teacher, the church always has been and always will be a failure. The pulpit, to use the language of Frederick Douglass, has always "echoed the cry of the street." Take our own history. The church was the friend of slavery. That institution was defended in nearly every pulpit. The Bible was the auction-block on which the slave-mother stood while her child was sold from her arms. The church, for hundreds of years, was the friend and defender of the slave-trade. I know of no crime that has not been defended by the church, in one form or another. The church is not a pioneer; it accepts a new truth, last of all, and only when denial has become useless. The church preaches the doctrine of forgiveness. This doctrine sells crime on credit. The idea that there is a God who rewards and punishes, and who can reward, if he so wishes, the meanest and vilest of the human race, so that he will be eternally happy, and can punish the best of the human race, so that he will be eternally miserable, is subversive of all morality. Happiness ought to be the result of good actions. Happiness ought to spring from the seed a man sows himself. It ought not to be a reward, it ought to be a consequence, and there ought to be no idea that there is any being who can step between action and consequence. To preach that a man can abuse his wife and children, rob his neighbors, slander his fellow-citizens, and yet, a moment or two before he dies, by repentance become a glorified angel is, in my judgment, immoral. And to preach that a man can be a good man, kind to his wife and children, an honest man, paying his debts, and yet, for the lack of a certain belief, the moment after he is dead, be sent to an eternal prison, is also immoral. So that, according to my opinion, while the church teaches men many good things, it also teaches doctrines subversive of morality. If there were not in the whole world a church, the morality of man, in my judgment, would be the gainer.

Question. What do you think of the treatment of the actor by society in his social relations?

Answer. For a good many years the basis of society has been the dollar. Only a few years ago all literary men were ostracized because they had no money; neither did they have a reading public. If any man produced a book he had to find a patron—some titled donkey, some lauded lubber, in whose honor he could print a few well-turned lies on the fly-leaf. If you wish to know the degradation of literature, read the dedication written by Lord Bacon to James I., in which he puts him beyond all kings, living and dead—beyond Caesar and Marcus Aurelius. In those days the literary man was a servant, a hack. He lived in Grub Street. He was only one degree above the sturdy vagrant and the escaped convict. Why was this? He had no money and he lived in an age when money was the fountain of respectability. Let me give you another instance: Mozart, whose brain was a fountain of melody, was forced to eat at table with coachmen, with footmen and scullions. He was simply a servant who was commanded to make music for a pudding-headed bishop. The same was true of the great painters, and of almost all other men who rendered the world beautiful by art, and who enriched the languages of mankind. The basis of respectability was the dollar.

Now that the literary man has an intelligent public he cares nothing for the ignorant patron. The literary man makes money. The world is becoming civilized and the literary man stands high. In England, however, if Charles Darwin had been invited to dinner, and there had been present some sprig of nobility, some titled vessel holding the germs of hereditary disease, Darwin would have been compelled to occupy a place beneath him. But I have hopes even for England. The same is true of the artist. The man who can now paint a picture by which he receives from five thousand to fifty thousand dollars, is necessarily respectable. The actor who may realize from one to two thousand dollars a night, or even more, is welcomed in the stupidest and richest society. So with the singers and with all others who instruct and amuse mankind. Many people imagine that he who amuses them must be lower than they. This, however, is hardly possible. I believe in the aristocracy of the brain and heart; in the aristocracy of intelligence and goodness, and not only appreciate but admire the great actor, the great painter, the great sculptor, the marvelous singer. In other words, I admire all people who tend to make this life richer, who give an additional thought to this poor world.

Question. Do you think this liberal movement, favoring the better class of plays, inaugurated by the Rev. Dr. Abbott, will tend to soften the sentiment of the orthodox churches against the stage?

Answer. I have not read what Dr. Abbott has written on this subject. From your statement of his position, I think he entertains quite a sensible view, and, when we take into consideration that he is a minister, a miraculously sensible view. It is not the business of the dramatist, the actor, the painter or the sculptor to teach what the church calls morality. The dramatist and the actor ought to be truthful, ought to be natural—that is to say, truthfully and naturally artistic. He should present pictures of life properly chosen, artistically constructed; an exhibition of emotions truthfully done, artistically done. If vice is presented naturally, no one will fall in love with vice. If the better qualities of the human heart are presented naturally, no one can fail to fall in love with them. But they need not be presented for that purpose. The object of the artist is to present truthfully and artistically. He is not a Sunday school teacher. He is not to have the moral effect eternally in his mind. It is enough for him to be truly artistic. Because, as I have said, a great many times, the greatest good is done by indirection. For instance, a man lives a good, noble, honest and lofty life. The value of that life would be destroyed if he kept calling attention to it—if he said to all who met him, "Look at me!" he would become intolerable. The truly artistic speaks of perfection; that is to say, of harmony, not only of conduct, but of harmony and proportion in everything. The pulpit is always afraid of the passions, and really imagines that it has some influence on men and women, keeping them in the path of virtue. No greater mistake was ever made. Eternally talking and harping on that one subject, in my judgment, does harm. Forever keeping it in the mind by reading passages from the Bible, by talking about the "corruption of the human heart," of the "power of temptation," of the scarcity of virtue, of the plentifulness of vice—all these platitudes tend to produce exactly what they are directed against.

Question. I fear, Colonel, that I have surprised you into agreeing with a clergyman. The following are the points made by the Rev. Dr. Abbott in his editorial on the theatre, and it seems to me that you and he think very much alike—on that subject. The points are these:

1. It is not the function of the drama to teach moral lessons.

2. A moral lesson neither makes nor mars either a drama or a novel.

3. The moral quality of a play does not depend upon the result.

4. The real function of the drama is like that of the novel—not to amuse, not to excite; but to portray life, and so minister to it. And as virtue and vice, goodness and evil, are the great fundamental facts of life, they must, in either serious story or serious play, be portrayed. If they are so portrayed that the vice is alluring and the virtue repugnant, the play or story is immoral; if so portrayed that the vice is repellant and the virtue alluring, they play or story is moral.

5. The church has no occasion to ask the theatre to preach; though if it does preach we have a right to demand that its ethical doctrines be pure and high. But we have a right to demand that in its pictures of life it so portrays vice as to make it abhorrent, and so portrays virtue as to make it attractive.

Answer. I agree in most of what you have read, though I must confess that to find a minister agreeing with me, or to find myself agreeing with a minister, makes me a little uncertain. All art, in my judgment, is for the sake of expression—equally true of the drama as of painting and sculpture. No poem touches the human heart unless it touches the universal. It must, at some point, move in unison with the great ebb and flow of things. The same is true of the play, of a piece of music or a statue. I think that all real artists, in all departments, touch the universal and when they do the result is good; but the result need not have been a consideration. There is an old story that at first there was a temple erected upon the earth by God himself; that afterward this temple was shivered into countless pieces and distributed over the whole earth, and that all the rubies and diamonds and precious stones since found are parts of that temple. Now, if we could conceive of a building, or of anything involving all Art, and that it had been scattered abroad, then I would say that whoever find and portrays truthfully a thought, an emotion, a truth, has found and restored one of the jewels.

Dramatic Mirror, New York, April 21, 1888.


Question. Do you take much interest in politics, Colonel Ingersoll?

Answer. I take as much interest in politics as a Republican ought who expects nothing and who wants nothing for himself. I want to see this country again controlled by the Republican party. The present administration has not, in my judgment, the training and the political intelligence to decide upon the great economic and financial questions. There are a great many politicians and but few statesmen. Here, where men have to be elected every two or six years, there is hardly time for the officials to study statesmanship—they are busy laying pipes and fixing fences for the next election. Each one feels much like a monkey at a fair, on the top of a greased pole, and puts in the most of his time dodging stones and keeping from falling. I want to see the party in power best qualified, best equipped, to administer the Government.

Question. What do you think will be the particular issue of the coming campaign?

Answer. That question has already been answered. The great question will be the tariff. Mr. Cleveland imagines that the surplus can be gotten rid of by a reduction of the tariff. If the reduction is so great as to increase the demand for foreign articles, the probability is that the surplus will be increased. The surplus can surely be done away with by either of two methods; first make the tariff prohibitory; second, have no tariff. But if the tariff is just at that point where the foreign goods could pay it and yet undersell the American so as to stop home manufactures, then the surplus would increase.

As a rule we can depend on American competition to keep prices at a reasonable rate. When that fails we have at all times the governing power in our hands—that is to say, we can reduce the tariff. In other words, the tariff is not for the benefit of the manufacturer—the protection is not for the mechanic or the capitalist —it is for the whole country. I do not believe in protecting silk simply to help the town of Paterson, but I am for the protection of the manufacture, because, in my judgment, it helps the entire country, and because I know that it has given us a far better article of silk at a far lower price than we obtained before the establishment of those factories.

I believe in the protection of every industry that needs it, to the end that we may make use of every kind of brain and find use for all human capacities. In this way we will produce greater and better people. A nation of agriculturalists or a nation of mechanics would become narrow and small, but where everything is done, then the brain is cultivated on every side, from artisan to artist. That is to say, we become thinkers as well as workers; muscle and mind form a partnership.

I don't believe that England is particularly interested in the welfare of the United States. It never seemed probable to me that men like Godwin Smith sat up nights fearing that we in some way might injure ourselves. To use a phrase that will be understood by theologians at least, we ought to "copper" all English advice.

The free traders say that there ought to be no obstructions placed by governments between buyers and sellers. If we want to make the trade, of course there should be no obstruction, but if we prefer that Americans should trade with Americans—that Americans should make what Americans want—then, so far as trading with foreigners is concerned, there ought to be an obstruction.

I am satisfied that the United States could get along if the rest of the world should be submerged, and I want to see this country in such a condition that it can be independent of the rest of mankind.

There is more mechanical genius in the United States than in the rest of the world, and this genius has been fostered and developed by protection. The Democracy wish to throw all this away—to make useless this skill, this ingenuity, born of generations of application and thought. These deft and marvelous hands that create the countless things of use and beauty to be worth no more than the common hands of ignorant delvers and shovelers. To the extent that thought is mingled with labor, labor becomes honorable and its burden lighter.

Thousands of millions of dollars have been invested on the faith of this policy—millions and millions of people are this day earning their bread by reason of protection, and they are better housed and better fed and better clothed than any other workmen on the globe.

The intelligent people of this country will not be satisfied with President Cleveland's platform—with his free trade primer. They believe in good wages for good work, and they know that this is the richest nation in the world. The Republic is worth at least sixty billion dollars. This vast sum is the result of labor, and this labor has been protected either directly or indirectly. This vast sum has been made by the farmer, the mechanic, the laborer, the miner, the inventor.

Protection has given work and wages to the mechanic and a market to the farmer. The interests of all laborers in America—all men who work—are identical. If the farmer pays more for his plow he gets more for his plowing. In old times, when the South manufactured nothing and raised only raw material—for the reason that its labor was enslaved and could not be trusted with education enough to become skillful—it was in favor of free trade; it wanted to sell the raw material to England and buy the manufactured article where it could buy the cheapest. Even under those circumstances it was a short-sighted and unpatriotic policy. Now everything is changing in the South. They are beginning to see that he who simply raises raw material is destined to be forever poor. For instance, the farmer who sells corn will never get rich; the farmer should sell pork and beef and horses. So a nation, a State, that parts with its raw material, loses nearly all the profits, for the reason that the profit rises with the skill requisite to produce. It requires only brute strength to raise cotton; it requires something more to spin it, to weave it, and the more beautiful the fabric the greater the skill, and consequently the higher the wages and the greater the profit. In other words, the more thought is mingled with labor the more valuable is the result.

Besides all this, protection is the mother of economy; the cheapest at last, no matter whether the amount paid is less or more. It is far better for us to make glass than to sell sand to other countries; the profit on sand will be exceedingly small.

The interests of this country are united; they depend upon each other. You destroy one and the effect upon all the rest may be disastrous. Suppose we had free trade to-day, what would become of the manufacturing interests to-morrow? The value of property would fall thousands of millions of dollars in an instant. The fires would die out in thousands and thousands of furnaces, innumerable engines would stop, thousands and thousands would stop digging coal and iron and steel. What would the city that had been built up by the factories be worth? What would be the effect on farms in that neighborhood? What would be the effect on railroads, on freights, on business—what upon the towns through which they passed? Stop making iron in Pennsylvania, and the State would be bankrupt in an hour. Give us free trade, and New Jersey, Connecticut and many other States would not be worth one dollar an acre.

If a man will think of the connection between all industries—of the dependence and inter-dependence of each on all; of the subtle relations between all human pursuits—he will see that to destroy some of the grand interest makes financial ruin and desolation. I am not talking now about a tariff that is too high, because that tariff does not produce a surplus—neither am I asking to have that protected which needs no protection—I am only insisting that all the industries that have been fostered and that need protection should be protected, and that we should turn our attention to the interests of our own country, letting other nations take care of themselves. If every American would use only articles produced by Americans—if they would wear only American cloth, only American silk—if we would absolutely stand by each other, the prosperity of this nation would be the marvel of human history. We can live at home, and we have now the ingenuity, the intelligence, the industry to raise from nature everything that a nation needs.

Question. What have you to say about the claim that Mr. Cleveland does not propose free trade?

Answer. I suppose that he means what he said. His argument was all for free trade, and he endeavored to show to the farmer that he lost altogether more money by protection, because he paid a higher price for manufactured articles and received no more for what he had to sell. This certainly was an argument in favor of free trade. And there is no way to decrease the surplus except to prohibit the importation of foreign articles, which certainly Mr. Cleveland is not in favor of doing, or to reduce the tariff to a point so low that no matter how much may be imported the surplus will be reduced. If the message means anything it means free trade, and if there is any argument in it it is an argument in favor of absolutely free trade. The party, not willing to say "free trade" uses the word "reform." This is simply a mask and a pretence. The party knows that the President made a mistake. The party, however, is so situated that it cannot get rid of Cleveland, and consequently must take him with his mistake—they must take him with his message, and then show that all he intended by "free trade" was "reform."

Question. Who do you think ought to be nominated at Chicago?

Answer. Personally, I am for General Gresham. I am saying nothing against the other prominent candidates. They have their friends, and many of them are men of character and capacity, and would make good Presidents. But I know of no man who has a better record than Gresham, and of no man who, in my judgment, would receive a larger number of votes. I know of no Republican who would not support Judge Gresham. I have never heard one say that he had anything against him or know of any reason why he should not be voted for. He is a man of great natural capacity. He is candid and unselfish. He has for many years been engaged in the examination and decision of important questions, of good principles, and consequently he has a trained mind. He knows how to take hold of a question, to get at a fact, to discover in a multitude of complications the real principle—the heart of the case. He has always been a man of affairs. He is not simply a judge—that is to say, a legal pair of scales—he knows the effect of his decision on the welfare of communities—he is not governed entirely by precedents—he has opinions of his own. In the next place, he is a man of integrity in all the relations of life. He is not a seeker after place, and, so far as I know, he has done nothing for the purpose of inducing any human being to favor his nomination. I have never spoken to him on the subject.

In the West he has developed great strength, in fact, his popularity has astonished even his best friends. The great mass of people want a perfectly reliable man—one who will be governed by his best judgment and by a desire to do the fair and honorable thing. It has been stated that the great corporations might not support him with much warmth for the reason that he has failed to decide certain cases in their favor. I believe that he has decided the law as he believed it to be, and that he has never been influenced in the slightest degree, by the character, position, or the wealth of the parties before him. It may be that some of the great financiers, the manipulators, the creators of bonds and stocks, the blowers of financial bubbles, will not support him and will not contribute any money for the payment of election expenses, because they are perfectly satisfied that they could not make any arrangements with him to get the money back, together with interest thereon, but the people of this country are intelligent enough to know what that means, and they will be patriotic enough to see to it that no man needs to bow or bend or cringe to the rich to attain the highest place.

The possibility is that Mr. Blaine could have been nominated had he not withdrawn, but having withdrawn, of course the party is released. Others were induced to become candidates, and under these circumstances Mr. Blaine has hardly the right to change his mind, and certainly other persons ought not to change it for him.

Question. Do you think that the friends of Gresham would support Blaine if he should be nominated?

Answer. Undoubtedly they would. If they go into convention they must abide the decision. It would be dishonorable to do that which you would denounce in others. Whoever is nominated ought to receive the support of all good Republicans. No party can exist that will not be bound by its own decision. When the platform is made, then is the time to approve or reject. The conscience of the individual cannot be bound by the action of party, church or state. But when you ask a convention to nominate your candidate, you really agree to stand by the choice of the convention. Principles are of more importance than candidates. As a rule, men who refuse to support the nominee, while pretending to believe in the platform, are giving an excuse for going over to the enemy. It is a pretence to cover desertion. I hope that whoever may be nominated at Chicago will receive the cordial support of the entire party, of every man who believes in Republican principles, who believes in good wages for good work, and has confidence in the old firms of "Mind and Muscle," of "Head and Hand."

New York Press, May 27, 1888.


Question. What, in your opinion, is the condition of labor in this country as compared with that abroad?

Answer. In the first place, it is self-evident that if labor received more in other lands than in this the tide of emigration would be changed. The workingmen would leave our shores. People who believe in free trade are always telling us that the laboring man is paid much better in Germany than in the United States, and yet nearly every ship that comes from Germany is crammed with Germans, who, for some unaccountable reason, prefer to leave a place where they are doing well and come to one where they must do worse.

The same thing can be said of Denmark and Sweden, of England, Scotland, Ireland and of Italy. The truth is, that in all those lands the laboring man can earn just enough to-day to do the work of to-morrow; everything he earns is required to get food enough in his body and rags enough on his back to work from day to day, to toil from week to week. There are only three luxuries within his reach—air, light, and water; probably a fourth might be added —death.

In those countries the few own the land, the few have the capital, the few make the laws, and the laboring man is not a power. His opinion in neither asked nor heeded. The employers pay as little as they can. When the world becomes civilized everybody will want to pay what things are worth, but now capital is perfectly willing that labor shall remain at the starvation line. Competition on every hand tends to put down wages. The time will come when the whole community will see that justice is economical. If you starve laboring men you increase crime; you multiply, as they do in England, workhouses, hospitals and all kinds of asylums, and these public institutions are for the purpose of taking care of the wrecks that have been produced by greed and stinginess and meanness—that is to say, by the ignorance of capital.

Question. What effect has the protective tariff on the condition of labor in this country?

Answer. To the extent that the tariff keeps out the foreign article it is a direct protection to American labor. Everything in this country is on a larger scale than in any other. There is far more generosity among the manufacturers and merchants and millionaires and capitalists of the United States than among those of any other country, although they are bad enough and mean enough here.

But the great thing for the laboring man in the United States is that he is regarded as a man. He is a unit of political power. His vote counts just as much as that of the richest and most powerful. The laboring man has to be consulted. The candidate has either to be his friend or to pretend to be his friend, before he can succeed. A man running for the presidency could not say the slightest word against the laboring man, or calculated to put a stain upon industry, without destroying every possible chance of success. Generally, every candidate tries to show that he is a laboring man, or that he was a laboring man, or that his father was before him. There is in this country very little of the spirit of caste—the most infamous spirit that ever infested the heartless breast of the brainless head of a human being.

Question. What will be the effect on labor of a departure in American policy in the direction of free trade?

Answer. If free trade could be adopted to-morrow there would be an instant shrinkage of values in this country. Probably the immediate loss would equal twenty billion dollars—that is to say, one-third of the value of the country. No one can tell its extent. All thing are so interwoven that to destroy one industry cripples another, and the influence keeps on until it touches the circumference of human interests.

I believe that labor is a blessing. It never was and never will be a curse. It is a blessed thing to labor for your wife and children, for your father and mother, and for the ones you love. It is a blessed thing to have an object in life—something to do— something to call into play your best thoughts, to develop your faculties and to make you a man. How beautiful, how charming, are the dreams of the young mechanic, the artist, the musician, the actor and the student. How perfectly stupid must be the life of a young man with nothing to do, no ambition, no enthusiasm—that is to say, nothing of the divine in him; the young man with an object in life, of whose brain a great thought, a great dream has taken possession, and in whose heart there is a great, throbbing hope. He looks forward to success—to wife, children, home—all the blessings and sacred joys of human life. He thinks of wealth and fame and honor, and of a long, genial, golden, happy autumn.

Work gives the feeling of independence, of self-respect. A man who does something necessarily puts a value on himself. He feels that he is a part of the world's force. The idler—no matter what he says, no matter how scornfully he may look at the laborer—in his very heart knows exactly what he is; he knows that he is a counterfeit, a poor worthless imitation of a man.

But there is a vast difference between work and what I call "toil." What must be the life of a man who can earn only one dollar or two dollars a day? If this man has a wife and a couple of children how can the family live? What must they eat? What must they wear? From the cradle to the coffin they are ignorant of any luxury of life. If the man is sick, if one of the children dies, how can doctors and medicines be paid for? How can the coffin or the grave be purchased? These people live on what might be called "the snow line"—just at that point where trees end and the mosses begin. What are such lives worth? The wages of months would hardly pay for the ordinary dinner of the family of a rich man. The savings of a whole life would not purchase one fashionable dress, or the lace on it. Such a man could not save enough during his whole life to pay for the flowers of a fashionable funeral.

And yet how often hundreds of thousands of persons, who spend thousands of dollars every year on luxuries, really wonder why the laboring people should complain. They are astonished when a car driver objects to working fourteen hours a day. Men give millions of dollars to carry the gospel to the heathen, and leave their own neighbors without bread; and these same people insist on closing libraries and museums of art on Sunday, and yet Sunday is the only day that these institutions can be visited by the poor.

They even want to stop the street cars so that these workers, these men and women, cannot go to the parks or the fields on Sunday. They want stages stopped on fashionable avenues so that the rich may not be disturbed in their prayers and devotions.

The condition of the workingman, even in America, is bad enough. If free trade will not reduce wages what will? If manufactured articles become cheaper the skilled laborers of America must work cheaper or stop producing the articles. Every one knows that most of the value of a manufactured article comes from labor. Think of the difference between the value of a pound of cotton and a pound of the finest cotton cloth; between a pound of flax and enough point lace to weigh a pound; between a few ounces of paint, two or three yards of canvas and a great picture; between a block of stone and a statue! Labor is the principal factor in price; when the price falls wages must go down.

I do not claim that protection is for the benefit of any particular class, but that it is for the benefit not only of that particular class, but of the entire country. In England the common laborer expects to spend his old age in some workhouse. He is cheered through all his days of toil, through all his years of weariness, by the prospect of dying a respectable pauper. The women work as hard as the men. They toil in the iron mills. They make nails, they dig coal, they toil in the fields.

In Europe they carry the hod, they work like beasts and with beasts, until they lose almost the semblance of human beings—until they look inferior to the animals they drive. On the labor of these deformed mothers, of these bent and wrinkled girls, of little boys with the faces of old age, the heartless nobility live in splendor and extravagant idleness. I am not now speaking of the French people, as France is the most prosperous country in Europe.

Let us protect our mothers, our wives and our children from the deformity of toil, from the depths of poverty.

Question. Is not the ballot an assurance to the laboring man that he can get fair treatment from his employer?

Answer. The laboring man in this country has the political power, provided he has the intelligence to know it and the intelligence to use it. In so far as laws can assist labor, the workingman has it in his power to pass such laws; but in most foreign lands the laboring man has really no voice. It is enough for him to work and wait and suffer and emigrate. He can take refuge in the grave or go to America.

In the old country, where people have been taught that all blessing come from the king, it is very natural for the poor to believe the other side of that proposition—that is to say, all evils come from the king, from the government. They are rocked in the cradle of this falsehood. So when they come to this country, if they are unfortunate, it is natural for them to blame the Government.

The discussion of these questions, however, has already done great good. The workingman is becoming more and more intelligent. He is getting a better idea every day of the functions and powers and limitations of government, and if the problem is ever worked out— and by "problem" I mean the just and due relations that should exist between labor and capital—it will be worked out here in America.

Question. What assurance has the American laborer that he will not be ultimately swamped by foreign immigration?

Answer. Most of the immigrants that come to American come because they want a home. Nearly every one of them is what you may call "land hungry." In his country, to own a piece of land was to be respectable, almost a nobleman. The owner of a little land was regarded as the founder of a family—what you might call a "village dynasty." When they leave their native shores for America, their dream is to become a land owner—to have fields, to own trees, and to listen to the music of their own brooks.

The moment they arrive the mass of them seek the West, where land can be obtained. The great Northwest now is being filled with Scandinavian farmers, with persons from every part of Germany—in fact from all foreign countries—and every year they are adding millions of acres to the plowed fields of the Republic. This land hunger, this desire to own a home, to have a field, to have flocks and herds, to sit under your own vine and fig tree, will prevent foreign immigration from interfering to any hurtful degree with the skilled workmen of America. These land owners, these farmers, become consumers of manufactured articles. They keep the wheels and spindles turning and the fires in the forges burning.

Question. What do you think of Cleveland's message?

Answer. Only the other day I read a speech made by the Hon. William D. Kelley, of Pennsylvania, upon this subject, in which he says in answer to what he calls "the puerile absurdity of President Cleveland's assumption" that the duty is always added to the cost, not only of imported commodities, but to the price of like commodities produced in this country, "that the duties imposed by our Government on sugar reduced to ad valorem were never so high as now, and the price of sugar was never in this country so low as it is now." He also showed that this tax on sugar has made it possible for us to produce sugar from other plants and he gives the facts in relation to corn sugar.

We are now using annually nineteen million bushels of corn for the purpose of making glucose or corn sugar. He shows that in this industry alone there has been a capital invested of eleven million dollars; that seven hundred and thirty-two thousand acres of land are required to furnish the supply, and that this one industry now gives employment to about twenty-two thousand farmers, about five thousand laborers in factories, and that the annual value of this product of corn sugar is over seventeen million dollars.

He also shows what we may expect from the cultivation of the beet. I advise every one to read that speech, so that they may have some idea of the capabilities of this country, of the vast wealth asking for development, of the countless avenues opened for ingenuity, energy and intelligence.

Question. Does the protective tariff cheapen the prices of commodities to the laboring man?

Answer. In this there are involved two questions. If the tariff is so low that the foreign article is imported, of course this tariff is added to the cost and must be paid by the consumer; but if the protective tariff is so high that the importer cannot pay it, and as a consequence the article is produced in America, then it depends largely upon competition whether the full amount of the tariff will be added to the article. As a rule, competition will settle that question in America, and the article will be sold as cheaply as the producers can afford.

For instance: If there is a tariff, we will say of fifty cents on a pair of shoes, and this tariff is so low that the foreign article can afford to pay it, then that tariff, of course, must be paid by the consumer. But suppose the tariff was five dollars on a pair of shoes—that is to say, absolutely prohibitory—does any man in his senses say that five dollars would be added to each pair of American shoes? Of course, the statement is the answer.

I think it is the duty of the laboring man in this country, first, thoroughly to post himself upon these great questions, to endeavor to understand his own interest as well as the interest of his country, and if he does, I believe he will arrive at the conclusion that it is far better to have the country filled with manufacturers than to be employed simply in the raising of raw material. I think he will come to the conclusion that we had better have skilled labor here, and that it is better to pay for it than not to have it. I think he will find that it is better for America to be substantially independent of the rest of the world. I think he will conclude that nothing is more desirable than the development of American brain, and that nothing better can be raised than great and splendid men and women. I think he will conclude that the cloud coming from the factories, from the great stacks and chimneys, is the cloud on which will be seen, and always seen, the bow of American promise.

Question. What have you to say about tariff reform?

Answer. I have this to say: That the tariff is for the most part the result of compromises—that is, one State wishing to have something protected agrees to protect something else in some other State, so that, as a matter of fact, many things are protected that need no protection, and many things are unprotected that ought to be cared for by the Government.

I am in favor of a sensible reform of the tariff—that is to say, I do not wish to put it in the power of the few to practice extortion upon the many. Congress should always be wide awake, and whenever there is any abuse it should be corrected. At the same time, next to having the tariff just—next in importance is to have it stable. It does us great injury to have every dollar invested in manufactures frightened every time Congress meets. Capital should feel secure. Insecurity calls for a higher interest, wants to make up for the additional risk, whereas, when a dollar feels absolutely certain that it is well invested, that it is not to be disturbed, it is satisfied with a very low rate of interest.

The present agitation—the message of President Cleveland upon these questions—will cost the country many hundred millions of dollars.

Question. I see that some one has been charging that Judge Gresham is an Infidel?

Answer. I have known Judge Gresham for many years, and of course have heard him talk upon many subjects, but I do not remember ever discussing with him a religious topic. I only know that he believes in allowing every man to express his opinions, and that he does not hate a man because he differs with him. I believe that he believes in intellectual hospitality, and that he would give all churches equal rights, and would treat them all with the utmost fairness. I regard him as a fair-minded, intelligent and honest man, and that is enough for me. I am satisfied with the way he acts, and care nothing about his particular creed. I like a manly man, whether he agrees with me or not. I believe that President Garfield was a minister of the Church of the Disciples—that made no difference to me. Mr. Blaine is a member of some church in Augusta—I care nothing for that. Whether Judge Gresham belongs to any church, I do not know. I never asked him, but I know he does not agree with me by a large majority.

In this country, where a divorce has been granted between church and state, the religious opinions of candidates should be let alone. To make the inquiry is a piece of impertinence—a piece of impudence. I have voted for men of all persuasions and expect to keep right on, and if they are not civilized enough to give me the liberty they ask for themselves, why I shall simply set them an example of decency.

Question. What do you think of the political outlook?

Answer. The people of this country have a great deal of intelligence. Tariff and free trade and protection and home manufactures and American industries—all these things will be discussed in every schoolhouse of the country, and in thousands and thousands of political meetings, and when next November comes you will see the Democratic party overthrown and swept out of power by a cyclone. All other questions will be lost sight of. Even the Prohibitionists would rather drink beer in a prosperous country than burst with cold water and hard times.

The preservation of what we have will be the great question. This is the richest country and the most prosperous country, and I believe that the people have sense enough to continue the policy that has given them those results. I never want to see the civilization of the Old World, or rather the barbarism of the Old World, gain a footing on this continent. I am an American. I believe in American ideas—that is to say, in equal rights, and in the education and civilization of all the people.

New York Press, June 3, 1888.


Question. What do you think of the Democratic nominations?

Answer. In the first place, I hope that this campaign is to be fought on the issues involved, and not on the private characters of the candidates. All that they have done as politicians—all measures that they have favored or opposed—these are the proper subjects of criticism; in all other respects I think it better to let the candidates alone. I care but little about the private character of Mr. Cleveland or of Mr. Thurman. The real question is, what do they stand for? What policy do they advocate? What are the reasons for and against the adoption of the policy they propose?

I do not regard Cleveland as personally popular. He has done nothing, so far as I know, calculated to endear him to the popular heart. He certainly is not a man of enthusiasm. He has said nothing of a striking or forcible character. His messages are exceedingly commonplace. He is not a man of education, of wide reading, of refined tastes, or of general cultivation. He has some firmness and a good deal of obstinacy, and he was exceedingly fortunate in his marriage.

Four years ago he was distinctly opposed to a second term. He was then satisfied that no man should be elected President more than once. He was then fearful that a President might use his office, his appointing power, to further his own ends instead of for the good of the people. He started, undoubtedly, with that idea in his mind. He was going to carry out the civil service doctrine to the utmost. But when he had been President a few months he was exceedingly unpopular with his party. The Democrats who elected him had been out of office for twenty-five years. During all those years they had watched the Republicans sitting at the national banquet. Their appetites had grown keener and keener, and they expected when the 4th of March, 1885, came that the Republicans would be sent from the table and that they would be allowed to tuck the napkins under their chins. The moment Cleveland got at the head of the table he told his hungry followers that there was nothing for them, and he allowed the Republicans to go on as usual.

In a little while he began to hope for a second term, and gradually the civil service notion faded from his mind. He stuck to it long enough to get the principal mugwump papers committed to him and to his policy; long enough to draw their fire and to put them in a place where they could not honorably retreat without making themselves liable to the charge of having fought only for the loaves and fishes. As a matter of fact, no men were hungrier for office than the gentlemen who had done so much for civil service reform. They were so earnest in the advocacy of that principle that they insisted that only their followers should have place; but the real rank and file, the men who had been Democrats through all the disastrous years, and who had prayed and fasted, became utterly disgusted with Mr. Cleveland's administration and they were not slow to express their feelings. Mr. Cleveland saw that he was in danger of being left with no supporters, except a few who thought themselves too respectable really to join the Democratic party. So for the last two years, and especially the last year, he turned his attention to pacifying the real Democrats. He is not the choice of the Democratic party. Although unanimously nominated, I doubt if he was the unanimous choice of a single delegate.

Another very great mistake, I think, has been made by Mr. Cleveland. He seems to have taken the greatest delight in vetoing pension bills, and they seem to be about the only bills he has examined, and he has examined them as a lawyer would examine the declaration, brief or plea of his opponent. He has sought for technicalities, to the end that he might veto these bills. By this course he has lost the soldier vote, and there is no way by which he can regain it. Upon this point I regard the President as exceedingly weak. He has shown about the same feeling toward the soldier now that he did during the war. He was not with them then either in mind or body. He is not with them now. His sympathies are on the other side. He has taken occasion to show his contempt for the Democratic party again and again. This certainly will not add to his strength. He has treated the old leaders with great arrogance. He has cared nothing for their advice, for their opinions, or for their feelings.

The principal vestige of monarchy or despotism in our Constitution is the veto power, and this has been more liberally used by Mr. Cleveland than by any other President. This shows the nature of the man and how narrow he is, and through what a small intellectual aperture he views the world. Nothing is farther from true democracy than this perpetual application of the veto power. As a matter of fact, it should be abolished, and the utmost that a President should be allowed to do, would be to return a bill with his objections, and the bill should then become a law upon being passed by both houses by a simple majority. This would give the Executive the opportunity of calling attention to the supposed defects, and getting the judgment of Congress a second time.

I am perfectly satisfied that Mr. Cleveland is not popular with his party. The noise and confusion of the convention, the cheers and cries, were all produced and manufactured for effect and for the purpose of starting the campaign.

Now, as to Senator Thurman. During the war he occupied substantially the same position occupied by Mr. Cleveland. He was opposed to putting down the Rebellion by force, and as I remember it, he rather justified the people of the South for going with their States. Ohio was in favor of putting down the Rebellion, yet Mr. Thurman, by some peculiar logic of his own, while he justified Southern people for going into rebellion because they followed their States, justified himself for not following his State. His State was for the Union. His State was in favor of putting down rebellion. His State was in favor of destroying slavery. Certainly, if a man is bound to follow his State, he is equally bound when the State is right. It is hardly reasonable to say that a man is only bound to follow his State when his State is wrong; yet this was really the position of Senator Thurman.

I saw the other day that some gentlemen in this city had given as a reason for thinking that Thurman would strengthen the ticket, that he had always been right on the financial question. Now, as a matter of fact, he was always wrong. When it was necessary for the Government to issue greenbacks, he was a hard money man—he believed in the mint drops—and if that policy had been carried out, the Rebellion could not have been suppressed. After the suppression of the Rebellion, and when hundreds and hundreds of millions of greenbacks were afloat, and the Republican party proposed to redeem them in gold, and to go back—as it always intended to do—to hard money—to a gold and silver basis—then Senator Thurman, holding aloft the red bandanna, repudiated hard money, opposed resumption, and came out for rag currency as being the best. Let him change his ideas—put those first that he had last—and you might say that he was right on the currency question; but when the country needed the greenback he was opposed to it, and when the country was able to redeem the greenback, he was opposed to it.

It gives me pleasure to say that I regard Senator Thurman as a man of ability, and I have no doubt that he was coaxed into his last financial position by the Democratic party, by the necessities of Ohio, and by the force and direction of the political wind. No matter how much respectability he adds to the ticket, I do not believe that he will give any great strength. In the first place, he is an old man. He has substantially finished his career. Young men cannot attach themselves to him, because he has no future. His following is not an army of the young and ambitious—it is rather a funeral procession. Yet, notwithstanding this fact, he will furnish most of the enthusiasm for this campaign—and that will be done with his handkerchief. The Democratic banner is Thurman's red bandanna. I do not believe that it will be possible for the Democracy to carry Ohio by reason of Thurman's nomination, and I think the failure to nominate Gray or some good man from that State, will lose Indiana. So, while I have nothing to say against Senator Thurman, nothing against his integrity or his ability, still, under the circumstances, I do not think his nomination a strong one.

Question. Do you think that the nominations have been well received throughout the United States?

Answer. Not as well as in England. I see that all the Tory papers regard the nominations as excellent—especially that of Cleveland. Every Englishman who wants Ireland turned into a penitentiary, and every Irishman to be treated as a convict, is delighted with the action of the St. Louis convention. England knows what she wants. Her market is growing small. A few years ago she furnished manufactured articles to a vast portion of the world. Millions of her customers have become ingenious enough to manufacture many things that they need, so the next thing England did was to sell them the machinery. Now they are beginning to make their own machinery. Consequently, English trade is falling off. She must have new customers. Nothing would so gratify her as to have sixty millions of Americans buy her wares. If she could see our factories still and dead; if she could put out the fires of our furnaces and forges; there would come to her the greatest prosperity she has ever known. She would fatten on our misfortunes —grow rich and powerful and arrogant upon our poverty. We would become her servants. We would raise the raw material with ignorant labor and allow her children to reap all the profit of its manufacture, and in the meantime to become intelligent and cultured while we grew poor and ignorant.

The greatest blow that can be inflicted upon England is to keep her manufactured articles out of the United States. Sixty millions of Americans buy and use more than five hundred millions of Asiatics —buy and use more than all of China, all of India and all of Africa. One civilized man has a thousand times the wants of a savage or of a semi-barbarian. Most of the customers of England want a few yards of calico, some cheap jewelry, a little powder, a few knives and a few gallons of orthodox rum.

To-day the United States is the greatest market in the world. The commerce between the States is almost inconceivable in its immensity. In order that you may have some idea of the commerce of this country, it is only necessary to remember one fact. We have railroads enough engaged in this commerce to make six lines around the globe. The addition of a million Americans to our population gives us a better market than a monopoly of ten millions of Asiatics. England, with her workhouses, with her labor that barely exists, wishes this market, and wishes to destroy the manufactures of America, and she expects Irish-Americans to assist her in this patriotic business.

Now, as to the enthusiasm in this country. I fail to see it. The nominations have fallen flat. It has been known for a long time that Cleveland was to be nominated. That has all been discounted, and the nomination of Judge Thurman has been received in a quite matter-of-fact way. It may be that his enthusiasm was somewhat dampened by what might be called the appearance above the horizon of the morning star of this campaign—Oregon. What a star to rise over the work of the St. Louis convention! What a prophecy for Democrats to commence business with! Oregon, with the free trade issue, seven thousand to eight thousand Republican majority—the largest ever given by that State—Oregon speaks for the Pacific Coast.

Question. What do you think of the Democratic platform?

Answer. Mr. Watterson was kind enough to say that before they took the roof off of the house they were going to give the occupants a chance to get out. By the "house" I suppose he means the great workshop of America. By the "roof" he means protection; and by the "occupants" the mechanics. He is not going to turn them out at once, or take the roof off in an instant, but this is to be done gradually.

In other words, they will remove it shingle by shingle or tile by tile, until it becomes so leaky or so unsafe that the occupants— that is to say, the mechanics, will leave the building.

The first thing in the platform is a reaffirmation of the platform of 1884, and an unqualified endorsement of President Cleveland's message on the tariff. And if President Cleveland's message has any meaning whatever, it means free trade—not instantly, it may be—but that is the object and the end to be attained. All his reasoning, if reasoning it can be called, is in favor of absolute free trade. The issue is fairly made—shall American labor be protected, or must the American laborer take his chances with the labor market of the world? Must he stand upon an exact par with the laborers of Belgium and England and Germany, not only, but with the slaves and serfs of other countries? Must he be reduced to the diet of the old country? Is he to have meat on holidays and a reasonably good dinner on Christmas, and live the rest of the year on crusts, crumbs, scraps, skimmed milk, potatoes, turnips, and a few greens that he can steal from the corners of fences? Is he to rely for meat, on poaching, and then is he to be transported to some far colony for the crime of catching a rabbit? Are our workingmen to wear wooden shoes?

Now, understand me, I do not believe that the Democrats think that free trade would result in disaster. Their minds are so constituted that they really believe that free trade would be a great blessing. I am not calling in question their honesty. I am simply disputing the correctness of their theory. It makes no difference, as a matter of fact, whether they are honest or dishonest. Free trade established by honest people would be just as injurious as if established by dishonest people. So there is no necessity of raising the question of intention. Consequently, I admit that they are doing the best they know now. This is not admitting much, but it is something, as it tends to take from the discussion all ill feeling.

We all know that the tariff protects special interests in particular States. Louisiana is not for free trade. It may be for free trade in everything except sugar. It is willing that the rest of the country should pay an additional cent or two a pound on sugar for its benefit, and while receiving the benefit it does not wish to bear its part of the burden. If the other States protect the sugar interests in Louisiana, certainly that State ought to be willing to protect the wool interest in Ohio, the lead and hemp interest in Missouri, the lead and wool interest in Colorado, the lumber interest in Minnesota, the salt and lumber interest in Michigan, the iron interest in Pennsylvania, and so I might go on with a list of the States—because each one has something that it wishes to have protected.

It sounds a little strange to hear a Democratic convention cry out that the party "is in favor of the maintenance of an indissoluble union of free and indestructible States." Only a little while ago the Democratic party regarded it as the height of tyranny to coerce a free State. Can it be said that a State is "free" that is absolutely governed by the Nation? Is a State free that can make no treaty with any other State or country—that is not permitted to coin money or to declare war? Why should such a State be called free? The truth is that the States are not free in that sense. The Republican party believes that this is a Nation and that the national power is the highest, and that every citizen owes the highest allegiance to the General Government and not to his State. In other words, we are not Virginians or Mississippians or Delawareans —we are Americans. The great Republic is a free Nation, and the States are but parts of that Nation. The doctrine of State Sovereignty was born of the institution of slavery. In the history of our country, whenever anything wrong was to be done, this doctrine of State Sovereignty was appealed to. It protected the slave-trade until the year 1808. It passed the Fugitive Slave Law. It made every citizen in the North a catcher of his fellow-man—made it the duty of free people to enslave others. This doctrine of State Rights was appealed to for the purpose of polluting the Territories with the institution of slavery. To deprive a man of his liberty, to put him back into slavery, State lines were instantly obliterated; but whenever the Government wanted to protect one of its citizens from outrage, then the State lines became impassable barriers, and the sword of justice fell in twain across the line of a State.

People forget that the National Government is the creature of the people. The real sovereign is the people themselves. Presidents and congressmen and judges are the creatures of the people. If we had a governing class—if men were presidents or senators by virtue of birth—then we might talk about the danger of centralization; but if the people are sufficiently intelligent to govern themselves, they will never create a government for the destruction of their liberties, and they are just as able to protect their rights in the General Government as they are in the States. If you say that the sovereignty of the State protects labor, you might as well say that the sovereignty of the county protects labor in the State and that the sovereignty of the town protects labor in the county.

Of all subjects in the world the Democratic party should avoid speaking of "a critical period of our financial affairs, resulting from over taxation." How did taxation become necessary? Who created the vast debt that American labor must pay? Who made this taxation of thousands of millions necessary? Why were the greenbacks issued? Why were the bonds sold? Who brought about "a critical period of our financial affairs"? How has the Democratic party "averted disaster"? How could there be a disaster with a vast surplus in the treasury? Can you find in the graveyard of nations this epitaph: "Died of a Surplus"? Has any nation ever been known to perish because it had too much gold and too much silver, and because its credit was better than that of any other nation on the earth? The Democrats seem to think—and it is greatly to their credit—that they have prevented the destruction of the Government when the treasury was full—when the vaults were overflowing. What would they have done had the vaults been empty? Let them wrestle with the question of poverty; let them then see how the Democratic party would succeed. When it is necessary to create credit, to inspire confidence, not only in our own people, but in the nations of the world—which of the parties is best adapted for the task? The Democratic party congratulates itself that it has not been ruined by a Republican surplus! What good boys we are! We have not been able to throw away our legacy!

Is it not a little curious that the convention plumed itself on having paid out more for pensions and bounties to the soldiers and sailors of the Republic than was ever paid before during an equal period? It goes wild in its pretended enthusiasm for the President who has vetoed more pension bills than all the other Presidents put together.

The platform informs us that "the Democratic party has adopted and consistently pursued and affirmed a prudent foreign policy, preserving peace with all nations." Does it point with pride to the Mexican fiasco, or does it rely entirely upon the great fishery triumph? What has the administration done—what has it accomplished in the field of diplomacy?

When we come to civil service, about how many Federal officials were at the St. Louis convention? About how many have taken part in the recent nominations? In other words, who has been idle?

We have recently been told that the wages of workingmen are just as high in the old country as in this, when you take into consideration the cost of living. We have always been told by all the free trade papers and orators, that the tariff has no bearing whatever upon wages, and yet, the Democrats have not succeeded in convincing themselves. I find in their platform this language: "A fair and careful revision of our tax laws, with due allowance for the difference between the wages of American and foreign labor, must promote and encourage every branch of such industries and enterprises by giving them the assurance of an extended market and steady and continuous operations."

It would seem from this that the Democratic party admits that wages are higher here than in foreign countries. Certainly they do not mean to say that they are lower. If they are higher here than in foreign countries, the question arises, why are they higher? If you took off the tariff, the presumption is that they would be as low here as anywhere else, because this very Democratic convention says: "A fair and careful revision of our tax laws, with due allowance for the difference between wages." In other words, they would keep tariff enough on to protect our workingmen from the low wages of the foreigner—consequently, we have the admission of the Democratic party that in order to keep wages in this country higher than they are in Belgium, in Italy, in England and in Germany, we must protect home labor. Then follows the non sequitur, which is a Democratic earmark. They tell us that by keeping a tariff, "making due allowance for the difference between wages, all the industries and enterprises would be encouraged and promoted by giving them the assurance of an extended market." What does the word "extended" mean? If it means anything, it means a market in other countries. In other words, we will put the tariff so low that the wages of American workingmen will be so low that he can compete with the laborers of other countries; otherwise his market could not be "extended." What does this mean? There is evidently a lack of thought here. The two things cannot be accomplished in that way. If the tariff raises American wages, the American cannot compete in foreign markets with the men who work for half the price. What may be the final result is another question. American industry properly protected, American genius properly fostered, may invent ways and means—such wonderful machinery, such quick, inexpensive processes, that in time American genius may produce at a less rate than any other country, for the reason that the laborers of other countries will not be as intelligent, will not be as independent, will not have the same ambition.

Fine phrases will not deceive the people of this country. The American mechanic already has a market of sixty millions of people, and, as I said before, the best market in the world. This country is now so rich, so prosperous, that it is the greatest market of the earth, even for luxuries. It is the best market for pictures, for works of art. It is the best market for music and song. It is the best market for dramatic genius, and it is the best market for skilled labor, the best market for common labor, and in this country the poor man to-day has the best chance—he can look forward to becoming the proprietor of a home, of some land, to independence, to respectability, and to an old age without want and without disgrace.

The platform, except upon this question of free trade, means very little. There are other features in it which I have not at present time to examine, but shall do so hereafter. I want to take it up point by point and find really what it means, what its scope is, and what the intentions were of the gentlemen who made it.

But it may be proper to say here, that in my judgment it is a very weak and flimsy document, as Victor Hugo would say, "badly cut and badly sewed."

Of course, I know that the country will exist whatever party may be in power. I know that all our blessings do not come from laws, or from the carrying into effect of certain policies, and probably I could pay no greater compliment to any country than to say that even eight years of Democratic rule cannot materially affect her destiny.

New York Press, June 10, 1888.


Question. What do you think of the signs of the times so far as the campaign has progressed?

Answer. The party is now going through a period of misrepresentation. Every absurd meaning that can be given to any combination of words will be given to every plank of the platform. In the heat of partisan hatred every plank will look warped and cracked. A great effort is being made to show that the Republican party is in favor of intemperance,—that the great object now is to lessen the price of all intoxicants and increase the cost of all the necessaries of life. The papers that are for nothing but reform of everything and everybody except themselves, are doing their utmost to show that the Republican party is the enemy of honesty and temperance.

The other day, at a Republican ratification meeting, I stated among other things, that we could not make great men and great women simply by keeping them out of temptation—that nobody would think of tying the hands of a person behind them and then praise him for not picking pockets; that great people were great enough to withstand temptation, and in that connection I made this statement: "Temperance goes hand in hand with liberty"—the idea being that when a chain is taken from the body an additional obligation is perceived by the mind. These good papers—the papers that believe in honest politics—stated that I said: "Temperance goes hand in hand with liquor." This was not only in the reports of the meeting, but this passage was made the subject of several editorials. It hardly seems possible that any person really thought that such a statement had been expressed. The Republican party does not want free whiskey —it wants free men; and a great many people in the Republican party are great enough to know that temperance does go hand in hand with liberty; they are great enough to know that all legislation as to what we shall eat, as to what we shall drink, and as to wherewithal we shall be clothed, partakes of the nature of petty, irritating and annoying tyranny. They also know that the natural result is to fill a country with spies, hypocrites and pretenders, and that when a law is not in accordance with an enlightened public sentiment, it becomes either a dead letter, or, when a few fanatics endeavor to enforce it, a demoralizer of courts, of juries and of people.

The attack upon the platform by temperance people is doing no harm, for the reason that long before November comes these people will see the mistake they have made. It seems somewhat curious that the Democrats should attack the platform if they really believe that it means free whiskey.

The tax was levied during the war. It was a war measure. The Government was in extremis, and for that reason was obliged to obtain a revenue from every possible article of value. The war is over; the necessity has disappeared; consequently the Government should return to the methods of peace. We have too many Government officials. Let us get rid of collectors and gaugers and inspectors. Let us do away with all this machinery, and leave the question to be settled by the State. If the temperance people themselves would take a second thought, they would see that when the Government collects eighty or ninety million dollars from a tax on whiskey, the traffic becomes entrenched, it becomes one of the pillars of the State, one of the great sources of revenue. Let the States attend to this question, and it will be a matter far easier to deal with.

The Prohibitionists are undoubtedly honest, and their object is to destroy the traffic, to prevent the manufacture of whiskey. Can they do this as long as the Government collects ninety million dollars per annum from that one source? If there is anything whatever in this argument, is it not that the traffic pays a bribe of ninety million dollars a year for its life? Will not the farmers say to the temperance men: "The distilleries pay the taxes, the distilleries raise the price of corn; is it not better for the General Government to look to another direction for its revenues and leave the States to deal as they may see proper with this question?"

With me, it makes no difference what is done with the liquor— whether it is used in the arts or not—it is a question of policy. There is no moral principle involved on our side of the question, to say the least of it. If it is a crime to make and sell intoxicating liquors, the Government, by licensing persons to make and sell, becomes a party to the crime. If one man poisons another, no matter how much the poison costs, the crime is the same; and if the person from whom the poison was purchased knew how it was to be used, he is also a murderer.

There have been many reformers in this world, and they have seemed to imagine that people will do as they say. They think that you can use people as you do bricks or stones; that you can lay them up in walls and they will remain where they are placed; but the truth is, you cannot do this. The bricks are not satisfied with each other—they go away in the night—in the morning there is no wall. Most of these reformers go up what you might call the Mount Sinai of their own egotism, and there, surrounded by the clouds of their own ignorance, they meditate upon the follies and the frailties of their fellow-men and then come down with ten commandments for their neighbors.

All this talk about the Republican platform being in favor of intemperance, so far as the Democratic party is concerned, is pure, unadulterated hypocrisy—nothing more, nothing less. So far as the Prohibitionists are concerned, they may be perfectly honest, but, if they will think a moment, they will see how perfectly illogical they are. No one can help sympathizing with any effort honestly made to do away with the evil of intemperance. I know that many believe that these evils can be done away with by legislation. While I sympathize with the objects that these people wish to attain, I do not believe in the means they suggest. As life becomes valuable, people will become temperate, because they will take care of themselves. Temperance is born of the countless influences of civilization. Character cannot be forced upon anybody; it is a growth, the seeds of which are within. Men cannot be forced into real temperance any more than they can be frightened into real morality. You may frighten a man to that degree that he will not do a certain thing, but you cannot scare him badly enough to prevent his wanting to do that thing. Reformation begins on the inside, and the man refrains because he perceives that he ought to refrain, not because his neighbors say that he ought to refrain. No one would think of praising convicts in jail for being regular at their meals, or for not staying out nights; and it seems to me that when the Prohibitionists—when the people who are really in favor of temperance—look the ground all over they will see that it is far better to support the Republican party than to throw their votes away; and the Republicans will see that it is simply a proposition to go back to the original methods of collecting revenue for the Government—that it is simply abandoning the measures made necessary by war, and that it is giving to the people the largest liberty consistent with the needs of the Government, and that it is only leaving these questions where in time of peace they properly belong —to the States themselves.

Question. Do you think that the Knights of Labor will cut any material figure in this election?

Answer. The Knights of Labor will probably occupy substantially the same position as other laborers and other mechanics. If they clearly see that the policy advocated by the Republican party is to their interest, that it will give them better wages than the policy advocated by the Democrats, then they will undoubtedly support our ticket. There is more or less irritation between employers and employed. All men engaged in manufacturing and neither good nor generous. Many of them get work for as little as possible, and sell its product for all they can get. It is impossible to adopt a policy that will not by such people be abused. Many of them would like to see the working man toil for twelve hours or fourteen or sixteen in each day. Many of them wonder why they need sleep or food, and are perfectly astonished when they ask for pay. In some instances, undoubtedly, the working men will vote against their own interests simply to get even with such employers.

Some laboring men have been so robbed, so tyrannized over, that they would be perfectly willing to feel for the pillars and take a certain delight in a destruction that brought ruin even to themselves. Such manufacturers, however, I believe to be in a minority, and the laboring men, under the policy of free trade, would be far more in their power. When wages fall below a certain point, then comes degradation, loss of manhood, serfdom and slavery. If any man has the right to vote for his own interests, certainly the man who labors is that man, and every working man having in his will a part of the sovereignty of this nation, having within him a part of the lawmaking power, should have the intelligence and courage to vote for his own interests; he should vote for good wages; he should vote for a policy that would enable him to lay something by for the winter of his life, that would enable him to earn enough to educate his children, enough to give him a home and a fireside.

He need not do this in anger or for revenge, but because it is just, because it is right, and because the working people are in a majority. They ought to control the world, because they have made the world what it is. They have given everything there is of value. Labor plows every field, builds every house, fashions everything of use, and when that labor is guided by intelligence the world is prosperous.

He who thinks good thoughts is a laborer—one of the greatest. The man who invented the reaper will be harvesting the fields for thousands of years to come. If labor is abused in this country the laborers have it within their power to defend themselves.

All my sympathies are with the men who toil. I shed very few tears over bankers and millionaires and corporations—they can take care of themselves. My sympathies are with the man who has nothing to sell but his strength; nothing to sell but his muscle and his intelligence; who has no capital except that which his mother gave him—a capital he must sell every day; my sympathies are with him; and I want him to have a good market; and I want it so that he can sell the work for more than enough to take care of him to-morrow.

I believe that no corporation should be allowed to exist except for the benefit of the whole people. The Government should always act for the benefit of all, and when the Government gives a part of its power to an aggregation of individuals, the accomplishment of some public good should justify the giving of that power; and whenever a corporation becomes subversive of the very end for which it was created, the Government should put an end to its life.

So I believe that after these matters, these issues have been discussed—when something is understood about the effect of a tariff, the effect of protection, the laboring people of this country will be on the side of the Republican party. The Republican party is always trying to do something—trying to take a step in advance. Persons who care for nothing except themselves—who wish to make no effort except for themselves—are its natural enemies.

Question. What do you think of Mr. Mills' Fourth of July speech on his bill?

Answer. Certain allowances should always be made for the Fourth of July. What Mr. Mills says with regard to free trade depends, I imagine, largely on where he happens to be. You remember the old story about the Moniteur. When Napoleon escaped from Elba that paper said: "The ogre has escaped." And from that moment the epithets grew a little less objectionable as Napoleon advanced, and at last the Moniteur cried out: "The Emperor has reached Paris." I hardly believe that Mr. Mills would call his bill in Texas a war tariff measure. He might commence in New York with that description, but as he went South that language, in my judgment, would change, and when he struck the Brazos I think the bill would be described as the nearest possible approach to free trade.

Mr. Mills takes the ground that if raw material comes here free of duty, then we can manufacture that raw material and compete with other countries in the markets of the world—that is to say, under his bill. Now, other countries can certainly get the raw material as cheaply as we can, especially those countries in which the raw material is raised; and if wages are less in other countries than in ours, the raw material being the same, the product must cost more with us than with them. Consequently we cannot compete with foreign countries simply by getting the raw material at the same price; we must be able to manufacture it as cheaply as they, and we can do that only by cutting down the wages of the American workingmen. Because, to have raw material at the same price as other nations, is only a part of the problem. The other part is how cheaply can we manufacture it? And that depends upon wages. If wages are twenty-five cents a day, then we can compete with those nations where wages are twenty-five cents a day; but if our wages are five or six times as high, then the twenty-five cent labor will supply the market. There is no possible way of putting ourselves on an equality with other countries in the markets of the world, except by putting American labor on an equality with the other labor of the world. Consequently, we cannot obtain a foreign market without lessening our wages. No proposition can be plainer than this.

It cannot be said too often that the real prosperity of a country depends upon the well-being of those who labor. That country is not prosperous where a few are wealthy and have all the luxuries that the imagination can suggest, and where the millions are in want, clothed in rags, and housed in tenements not fit for wild beasts. The value of our property depends on the civilization of our people. If the people are happy and contented, if the workingman receives good wages, then our houses and our farms are valuable. If the people are discontented, if the workingmen are in want, then our property depreciates from day to day, and national bankruptcy will only be a question of time.

If Mr. Mills has given a true statement with regard to the measure proposed by him, what relation does that measure bear to the President's message? What has it to do with the Democratic platform? If Mr. Mills has made no mistake, the President wrote a message substantially in favor of free trade. The Democratic party ratified and indorsed that message, and at the same time ratified and indorsed the Mills bill. Now, the message was for free trade, and the Mills bill, according to Mr. Mills, is for the purpose of sustaining the war tariff. They have either got the wrong child or the wrong parents.

Question. I see that some people are objecting to your taking any part in politics, on account of your religious opinion?

Answer. The Democratic party has always been pious. If it is noted for anything it is for its extreme devotion. You have no idea how many Democrats wear out the toes of their shoes praying. I suppose that in this country there ought to be an absolute divorce between church and state and without any alimony being allowed to the church; and I have always supposed that the Republican party was perfectly willing that anybody should vote its ticket who believed in its principles. The party was not established, as I understand it, in the interest of any particular denomination; it was established to promote and preserve the freedom of the American citizen everywhere. Its first object was to prevent the spread of human slavery; its second object was to put down the Rebellion and preserve the Union; its third object was the utter destruction of human slavery everywhere, and its fourth object is to preserve not only the fruit of all that it has won, but to protect American industry to the end that the Republic may not only be free, but prosperous and happy. In this great work all are invited to join, no matter whether Catholics or Presbyterians or Methodists or Infidels—believers or unbelievers. The object is to have a majority of the people of the United States in favor of human liberty, in favor of justice and in favor of an intelligent American policy.

I am not what is called strictly orthodox, and yet I am liberal enough to vote for a Presbyterian, and if a Presbyterian is not liberal enough to stand by a Republican, no matter what his religious opinions may be, then the Presbyterian is not as liberal as the Republican party, and he is not as liberal as an unbeliever; in other words, he is not a manly man.

I object to no man who is running for office on the ticket of my party on account of his religious convictions. I care nothing about the church of which he is a member. That is his business. That is an individual matter—something with which the State has no right to interfere—something with which no party can rightfully have anything to do. These great questions are left open to discussion. Every church must take its chance in the open field of debate. No belief has the right to draw the sword—no dogma the right to resort to force. The moment a church asks for the help of the State, it confesses its weakness, it confesses its inability to answer the arguments against it.

I believe in the absolute equality before the law, of all religions and all metaphysical theories; and I would no more control those things by law than I would endeavor to control the arts and the sciences by legislation. Man admires the beautiful, and what is beautiful to one may not be to another, and this inequality or this difference cannot be regulated by law.

The same is true of what is called religious belief. I am willing to give all others every right that I claim for myself, and if they are not willing to give me the rights they claim for themselves, they are not civilized.

No man acknowledges the truth of my opinions because he votes the same ticket that I do, and I certainly do not acknowledge the correctness of the opinions of others because I vote the Republican ticket. We are Republicans together. Upon certain political questions we agree, upon other questions we disagree—and that is all. Only religious people, who have made up their minds to vote the Democratic ticket, will raise an objection of this kind, and they will raise the objection simply as a pretence, simply for the purpose of muddying the water while they escape.

Of course there may be some exceptions. There are a great many insane people out of asylums. If the Republican party does not stand for absolute intellectual liberty, it had better disband. And why should we take so much pains to free the body, and then enslave the mind? I believe in giving liberty to both. Give every man the right to labor, and give him the right to reap the harvest of his toil. Give every man the right to think, and to reap the harvest of his brain—that is to say, give him the right to express his thoughts.

New York Press, July 8, 1888.


Question. I see that there has lately been published a long account of the relations between Mr. Blaine and yourself, and the reason given for your failure to support him for the nomination in 1884 and 1888?

Answer. Every little while some donkey writes a long article pretending to tell all that happened between Mr. Blaine and myself. I have never seen any article on the subject that contained any truth. They are always the invention of the writer or of somebody who told him. The last account is more than usually idiotic. An unpleasant word has never passed between Mr. Blaine and myself. We have never had any falling out. I never asked Mr. Blaine's influence for myself. I never asked President Hayes or Garfield or Arthur for any position whatever, and I have never asked Mr. Cleveland for any appointment under the civil service.

With regard to the German Mission, about which so much has been said, all that I ever did in regard to that was to call on Secretary Evarts and inform him that there was no place in the gift of the administration that I would accept. I could not afford to throw away a good many thousand dollars a year for the sake of an office. So I say again that I never asked, or dreamed of asking, any such favor of Mr. Blaine. The favors have been exactly the other way— from me, and not from him. So there is not the slightest truth in the charge that there was some difference between our families.

I have great respect for Mrs. Blaine, have always considered her an extremely good and sensible woman; our relations have been of the friendliest character, and such relations have always existed between all the members of both families, so far as I know. Nothing could be more absurd that the charge that there was some feeling growing out of our social relations. We do not depend upon others to help us socially; we need no help, and if we did we would not accept it. The whole story about there having been any lack of politeness or kindness is without the slightest foundation.

In 1884 I did not think that Mr. Blaine could be elected. I thought the same at the Chicago convention this year. I know that he has a great number of ardent admirers and of exceedingly self-denying and unselfish friends. I believe that he has more friends than any other man in the Republican party; but he also has very bitter enemies—enemies with influence. Taking this into consideration, and believing that the success of the party was more important than the success of any individual, I was in favor of nominating some man who would poll the entire Republican vote. This feeling did not grow out of any hostility to any man, but simply out of a desire for Republican success. In other words, I endeavored to take an unprejudiced view of the situation. Under no circumstances would I underrate the ability and influence of Mr. Blaine, nor would I endeavor to deprecate the services he has rendered to the Republican party and to the country. But by this time it ought to be understood that I belong to no man, that I am the proprietor of myself.

There are two kinds of people that I have no use for—leaders and followers. The leader should be principle; the leader should be a great object to be accomplished. The follower should be the man dedicated to the accomplishment of a noble end. He who simply follows persons gains no honor and is incapable of giving honor even to the one he follows. There are certain things to be accomplished and these things are the leaders. We want in this country an American system; we wish to carry into operation, into practical effect, ideas, policies, theories in harmony with our surroundings.

This is a great country filled with intelligent, industrious, restless, ambitious people. Millions came here because they were dissatisfied with the laws, the institutions, the tyrannies, the absurdities, the poverty, the wretchedness and the infamous spirit of caste found in the Old World. Millions of these people are thinking for themselves, and only the people who can teach, who can give new facts, who can illuminate, should be regarded as political benefactors. This country is, in my judgment, in all that constitutes true greatness, the nearest civilized of any country. Only yesterday the German Empire robbed a woman of her child; this was done as a political necessity. Nothing is taken into consideration except some move on the political chess-board. The feelings of a mother are utterly disregarded; they are left out of the question; they are not even passed upon. They are naturally ignored, because in these governments only the unnatural is natural.

In our political life we have substantially outgrown the duel. There are some small, insignificant people who still think it important to defend a worthless reputation on the field of "honor," but for respectable members of the Senate, of the House, of the Cabinet, to settle a political argument with pistols would render them utterly contemptible in this country; that is to say, the opinion that governs, that dominates in this country, holds the duel in abhorrence and in contempt. What could be more idiotic, absurd, childish, than the duel between Boulanger and Floquet? What was settled? It needed no duel to convince the world that Floquet is a man of courage. The same may be said of Boulanger. He has faced death upon many fields. Why, then, resort to the duel? If Boulanger's wound proves fatal, that certainly does not tend to prove that Floquet told the truth, and if Boulanger recovers, it does not tend to prove that he did not tell the truth.

Nothing is settled. Two men controlled by vanity, that individual vanity born of national vanity, try to kill each other; the public ready to reward the victor; the cause of the quarrel utterly ignored; the hands of the public ready to applaud the successful swordsman —and yet France is called a civilized nation. No matter how serious the political situation may be, no matter if everything depends upon one man, that man is at the mercy of anyone in opposition who may see fit to challenge him. The greatest general at the head of their armies may be forced to fight a duel with a nobody. Such ideas, such a system, keeps a nation in peril and makes every cause, to a greater or less extent, depend upon the sword or the bullet of a criminal.

The Press, New York, July 16, 1888.


Question. What, in your opinion, is the significance of the vote on the Mills Bill recently passed in the House? In this I find there were one hundred and sixty-two for it, and one hundred and forty-nine against it; of these, two Republicans voted for, and five Democrats against.

Answer. In the first place, I think it somewhat doubtful whether the bill could have been passed if Mr. Randall had been well. His sickness had much to do with this vote. Had he been present to have taken care of his side, to have kept his forces in hand, he, in my judgment, taking into consideration his wonderful knowledge of parliamentary tactics, would have defeated this bill.

It is somewhat hard to get the average Democrat, in the absence of his leader, to throw away the prospect of patronage. Most members of Congress have to pay tolerably strict attention to their political fences. The President, although clinging with great tenacity to the phrase "civil service," has in all probability pulled every string he could reach for the purpose of compelling the Democratic members not only to stand in line, but to answer promptly to their names. Every Democrat who has shown independence has been stepped on just to the extent he could be reached; but many members, had the leader been on the floor—and a leader like Randall—would have followed him.

There are very few congressional districts in the United States not intensely Democratic where the people want nothing protected. There are a few districts where nothing grows except ancient politics, where they cultivate only the memory of what never ought to have been, where the subject of protection has not yet reached.

The impudence requisite to pass the Mills Bill is something phenomenal. Think of the Representatives from Louisiana saying to the ranchmen of the West and to the farmers of Ohio that wool must be on the free list, but that for the sake of preserving the sugar interest of Louisiana and a little portion of Texas, all the rest of the United States must pay tribute.

Everybody admits that Louisiana is not very well adapted by nature for raising sugar, for the reason that the cane has to be planted every year, and every third year the frost puts in an appearance just a little before the sugar. Now, while I think personally that the tariff on sugar has stimulated the inventive genius of the country to find other ways of producing that which is universally needed; and while I believe that it will not be long until we shall produce every pound of sugar that we consume, and produce it cheaper than we buy it now, I am satisfied that in time and at no distant day sugar will be made in this country extremely cheap, not only from beets, but from sorghum and corn, and it may be from other products. At the same time this is no excuse for Louisiana, neither is it any excuse for South Carolina asking for a tariff on rice, and at the same time wishing to leave some other industry in the United States, in which many more millions have been invested, absolutely without protection.

Understand, I am not opposed to a reasonable tariff on rice, provided it is shown that we can raise rice in this country cheaply and at a profit to such an extent as finally to become substantially independent of the rest of the world. What I object to is the impudence of the gentleman who is raising the rice objecting to the protection of some other industry of far greater importance than his.

After all, the whole thing must be a compromise. We must act together for the common good. If we wish to make something at the expense of another State we must allow that State to make something at our expense, or at least we must be able to show that while it is for our benefit it is also for the benefit of the country at large. Everybody is entitled to have his own way up to the point that his way interferes with somebody else. States are like individuals—their rights are relative—they are subordinated to the good of the whole country.

For many years it has been the American policy to do all that reasonably could be done to foster American industry, to give scope to American ingenuity and a field for American enterprise—in other words, a future for the United States.

The Southern States were always in favor of something like free trade. They wanted to raise cotton for Great Britain—raw material for other countries. At that time their labor was slave labor, and they could not hope ever to have skilled labor, because skilled labor cannot be enslaved. The Southern people knew at that time that if a man was taught enough of mathematics to understand machinery, to run locomotives, to weave cloth; it he was taught enough of chemistry even to color calico, it would be impossible to keep him a slave. Education always was and always will be an abolitionist. The South advocated a system of harmony with slavery, in harmony with ignorance—that is to say, a system of free trade, under which it might raise its raw material. It could not hope to manufacture, because by making its labor intelligent enough to manufacture it would lose it.

In the North, men are working for themselves, and as I have often said, they were getting their hands and heads in partnership. Every little stream that went singing to the sea was made to turn a thousand wheels; the water became a spinner and a weaver; the water became a blacksmith and ran a trip hammer; the water was doing the work of millions of men. In other words, the free people of the North were doing what free people have always done, going into partnership with the forces of nature. Free people want good tools, shapely, well made—tools with which the most work can be done with the least strain.

Suppose the South had been in favor of protection; suppose that all over the Southern country there had been workshops, factories, machines of every kind; suppose that her people had been as ingenious as the people of the North; suppose that her hands had been as deft as those that had been accustomed to skilled labor; then one of two things would have happened; either the South would have been too intelligent to withdraw from the Union, or, having withdrawn, it would have had the power to maintain its position. My opinion is that is would have been too intelligent to withdraw.

When the South seceded it had no factories. The people of the South had ability, but it was not trained in the direction then necessary. They could not arm and equip their men; they could not make their clothes; they could not provide them with guns, with cannon, with ammunition, and with the countless implements of destruction. They had not the ingenuity; they had not the means; they could not make cars to carry their troops, or locomotives to draw them; they had not in their armies the men to build bridges or to supply the needed transportation. They had nothing but cotton —that is to say, raw material. So that you might say that the Rebellion has settled the question as to whether a country is better off and more prosperous, and more powerful, and more ready for war, that is filled with industries, or one that depends simply upon the production of raw material.

There is another thing in this connection that should never be forgotten—at least, not until after the election in November, and then if forgotten, should be remembered at every subsequent election —and that is, that the Southern Confederacy had in its Constitution the doctrine of free trade. Among other things it was fighting for free trade. As a matter of fact, John C. Calhoun was fighting for free trade; the nullification business was in the interest of free trade.

The Southern people are endeavoring simply to accomplish, with the aid of New York, what they failed to accomplish on the field. The South is as "solid" to-day as in 1863. It is now for free trade, and it purposes to carry the day by the aid of one or two Northern States. History is repeating itself. It was the same for many years, up to the election of Abraham Lincoln.

Understand me, I do not blame the South for acting in accordance with its convictions, but the North ought not to be misled. The North ought to understand what the issue is. The South has a different idea of government—it is afraid of what it calls "centralization"—it is extremely sensitive about what are called "State Rights" or the sovereignty of the State. But the North believes in a Union that is united. The North does not expect to have any interest antagonistic to the Union. The North has no mental reservation. The North believes in the Government and in the Federal system, and the North believes that when a State is admitted into the Union it becomes a part—an integral part—of the Nation; that there was a welding, that the State, so far as sovereignty is concerned, is lost in the Union, and that the people of that State become citizens of the whole country.

Question. I see that by the vote two of the five Democrats who voted for protection, and one of the two Republicans who voted for free trade, were New Yorkers. What do you think is the significance of this fact in relation to the question as to whether New York will join the South in the opposition to the industries of the country?

Answer. In the city of New York there are a vast number of men —importers, dealers in foreign articles, representatives of foreign houses, of foreign interests, of foreign ideas. Of course most of these people are in favor of free trade. They regard New York as a good market; beyond that they have not the slightest interest in the United States. They are in favor of anything that will give them a large profit, or that will allow them to do the same business with less capital, or that will do them any good without the slightest regard as to what the effect may be on this country as a nation. They come from all countries, and they expect to remain here until their fortunes are made or lost and all their ideas are moulded by their own interests. Then, there are a great many natives who are merchants in New York and who deal in foreign goods, and they probably think—some of them—that it would be to their interest to have free trade, and they will probably vote according to the ledger. With them it is a question of bookkeeping. Their greed is too great to appreciate the fact that to impoverish customers destroys trade.

At the same time, New York, being one of the greatest manufacturing States of the world, will be for protection, and the Democrats of New York who voted for protection did so, not only because the believed in it themselves, but because their constituents believe in it, and the Republicans who voted the other way must have represented some district where the foreign influence controls.

The people of this State will protect their own industries.

Question. What will be the fate of the Mills Bill in the Senate?

Answer. I think that unless the Senate has a bill prepared embodying Republican ideals, a committee should be appointed, not simply to examine the Mills Bill, but to get the opinions and the ideas of the most intelligent manufacturers and mechanics in this country. Let the questions be thoroughly discussed, and let the information thus obtained be given to the people; let it be published from day to day; let the laboring man have his say, let the manufacturer give his opinion; let the representatives of the principal industries be heard, so that we may vote intelligently, so that the people may know what they are doing.

A great many industries have been attacked. Let them defend themselves. Public property should not be taken for Democratic use without due process of law.

Certainly it is not the business of a Republican Senate to pull the donkey of the Democrats out of the pit; the dug the pit, and we have lost no donkey.

I do not think the Senate called upon to fix up this Mills Bill, to rectify its most glaring mistakes, and then for the sake of saving a little, give up a great deal. What we have got is safe until the Democrats have the power to pass a bill. We can protect our rights by not passing their bills. In other words, we do not wish to practice any great self-denial simply for the purpose of insuring Democratic success. If the bill is sent back to the House, no matter in what form, if it still has the name "Mills Bill" I think the Democrats will vote for it simply to get out of their trouble. They will have the President's message left.

But I do hope that the Senate will investigate this business. It is hardly fair to ask the Senate to take decided and final action upon this bill in the last days of the session. There is no time to consider it unless it is instantly defeated. This would probably be a safe course, and yet, by accident, there may be some good things in this bill that ought to be preserved, and certainly the Democratic party ought to regard it as a compliment to keep it long enough to read it.

The interests involved are great—there are the commercial and industrial interests of sixty millions of people. These questions touch the prosperity of the Republic. Every person under the flag has a direct interest in the solution of these questions. The end that is now arrived at, the policy now adopted, may and probably will last for many years. One can hardly overestimate the immensity of the interests at stake. A man dealing with his own affairs should take time to consider; he should give himself the benefit of his best judgment. When acting for others he should do no less. The Senators represent, or should represent, not only their own views, but above these things they represent the material interests of their constituents, of their States, and to this trust they must be true, and in order to be true, they must understand the material interests of their States, and in order to be faithful, they must understand how the proposed changes in the tariff will affect these interests. This cannot be done in a moment.

In my judgment, the best way is for the Senate, through the proper committee, to hear testimony, to hear the views of intelligent men, of interested men, of prejudiced men—that is to say, they should look at the question from all sides.

Question. The Senate is almost tied; do you think that any Republicans are likely to vote in the interest of the President's policy at this session?

Answer. Of course I cannot pretend to answer that question from any special knowledge, or on any information that others are not in possession of. My idea is simply this: That a majority of the Senators are opposed to the President's policy. A majority of the Senate will, in my judgment, sustain the Republican policy; that is to say, they will stand by the American system. A majority of the Senate, I think, know that it will be impossible for us to compete in the markets of the world with those nations in which labor is far cheaper than it is in the United States, and that when you make the raw material just the same, you have not overcome the difference in labor, and until this is overcome we cannot successfully compete in the markets of the world with those countries where labor is cheaper. And there are only two ways to overcome this difficulty—either the price of labor must go up in the other countries or must go down in this. I do not believe that a majority of the Senate can be induced to vote for a policy that will decrease the wages of American workingmen.

There is this curious thing: The President started out blowing the trumpet of free trade. It gave, as the Democrats used to say, "no uncertain sound." He blew with all his might. Messrs. Morrison, Carlisle, Mills and many others joined the band. When the Mills Bill was introduced it was heralded as the legitimate offspring of the President's message. When the Democratic convention at St. Louis met, the declaration was made that the President's message, the Mills Bill, the Democratic platform of 1884 and the Democratic platform of 1888, were all the same—all segments of one circle; in fact, they were like modern locomotives—"all the parts interchangeable." As soon as the Republican convention met, made its platform and named its candidates, it is not free trade, but freer trade; and now Mr. Mills, in the last speech that he was permitted to make in favor of his bill, endeavored to show that it was a high protective tariff measure.

This is what lawyers call "a departure in pleading." That is to say, it is a case that ought to be beaten on demurrer.

New York Press, July 29, 1888.


[* Col. Robert G. Ingersoll was greatly interested in securing for Chiara Cignarale a commutation of the death sentence to imprisonment for life. In view of the fact that the great Agnostic has made a close study of capital punishment, a reporter for the World called upon him a day or two ago for an interview touching modern reformatory measures and the punishment of criminals. Speaking generally on the subject Colonel Ingersoll said: ]

I suppose that society—that is to say, a state or a nation—has the right of self-defence. It is impossible to maintain society— that is to say, to protect the rights of individuals in life, in property, in reputation, and in the various pursuits known as trades and professions, without in some way taking care of those who violate these rights. The principal object of all government should be to protect those in the right from those in the wrong. There are a vast number of people who need to be protected who are unable, by reason of the defects in their minds and by the countless circumstances that enter into the question of making a living, to protect themselves. Among the barbarians there was, comparatively speaking, but little difference. A living was made by fishing and hunting. These arts were simple and easily learned. The principal difference in barbarians consisted in physical strength and courage. As a consequence, there were comparatively few failures. Most men were on an equality. Now that we are somewhat civilized, life has become wonderfully complex. There are hundreds of arts, trades, and professions, and in every one of these there is great competition.

Besides all this, something is needed every moment. Civilized man has less credit than the barbarian. There is something by which everything can be paid for, including the smallest services. Everybody demands payment, and he who fails to pay is a failure. Owing to the competition, owing to the complexity of modern life, owing to the thousand things that must be known in order to succeed in any direction, on either side of the great highway that is called Progress, are innumerable wrecks. As a rule, failure in some honest direction, or at least in some useful employment, is the dawn of crime. People who are prosperous, people who by reasonable labor can make a reasonable living, who, having a little leisure can lay in a little for the winter that comes to all, are honest.

As a rule, reasonable prosperity is virtuous. I don't say great prosperity, because it is very hard for the average man to withstand extremes. When people fail under this law, or rather this fact, of the survival of the fittest, they endeavor to do by some illegal way that which they failed to do in accordance with law. Persons driven from the highway take to the fields, and endeavor to reach their end or object in some shorter way, by some quicker path, regardless of its being right or wrong.

I have said this much to show that I regard criminals as unfortunates. Most people regard those who violate the law with hatred. They do not take into consideration the circumstances. They do not believe that man is perpetually acted upon. They throw out of consideration the effect of poverty, of necessity, and above all, of opportunity. For these reasons they regard criminals with feelings of revenge. They wish to see them punished. They want them imprisoned or hanged. They do not think the law has been vindicated unless somebody has been outraged. I look at these things from an entirely different point of view. I regard these people who are in the clutches of the law not only as unfortunates, but, for the most part, as victims. You may call them victims of nature, or of nations, or of governments; it makes no difference, they are victims. Under the same circumstances the very persons who punish them would be punished. But whether the criminal is a victim or not, the honest man, the industrious man, has the right to defend the product of his labor. He who sows and plows should be allowed to reap, and he who endeavors to take from him his harvest is what we call a criminal; and it is the business of society to protect the honest from the dishonest.

Without taking into account whether the man is or is not responsible, still society has the right of self-defence. Whether that right of self-defence goes to the extent of taking life, depends, I imagine, upon the circumstances in which society finds itself placed. A thousand men on a ship form a society. If a few men should enter into a plot for the destruction of the ship, or for turning it over to pirates, or for poisoning and plundering the most of the passengers—if the passengers found this out certainly they would have the right of self-defence. They might not have the means to confine the conspirators with safety. Under such circumstances it might be perfectly proper for them to destroy their lives and to throw their worthless bodies into the sea. But what society has the right to do depends upon the circumstances. Now, in my judgment, society has the right to do two things—to protect itself and to do what it can to reform the individual. Society has no right to take revenge; no right to torture a convict; no right to do wrong because some individual has done wrong. I am opposed to all corporal punishment in penitentiaries. I am opposed to anything that degrades a criminal or leaves upon him an unnecessary stain, or puts upon him any stain that he did not put upon himself.

Most people defend capital punishment on the ground that the man ought to be killed because he has killed another. The only real ground for killing him, even if that be good, is not that he has killed, but that he may kill. What he has done simply gives evidence of what he may do, and to prevent what he may do, instead of to revenge what he has done, should be the reason given.

Now, there is another view. To what extent does it harden the community for the Government to take life? Don't people reason in this way: That man ought to be killed; the Government, under the same circumstances, would kill him, therefore I will kill him? Does not the Government feed the mob spirit—the lynch spirit? Does not the mob follow the example set by the Government? The Government certainly cannot say that it hangs a man for the purpose of reforming him. Its feelings toward that man are only feelings of revenge and hatred. These are the same feelings that animate the lowest and basest mob.

Let me give you an example. In the city of Bloomington, in the State of Illinois, a man confined in the jail, in his efforts to escape, shot and, I believe, killed the jailer. He was pursued, recaptured, brought back and hanged by a mob. The man who put the rope around his neck was then under indictment for an assault to kill and was out on bail, and after the poor wretch was hanged another man climbed the tree and, in a kind of derision, put a piece of cigar between the lips of the dead man. The man who did this had also been indicted for a penitentiary offence and was then out on bail.

I mention this simply to show the kind of people you find in mobs. Now, if the Government had a greater and nobler thought; if the Government said: "We will reform; we will not destroy; but if the man is beyond reformation we will simply put him where he can do no more harm," then, in my judgment, the effect would be far better. My own opinion is, that the effect of an execution is bad upon the community—degrading and debasing. The effect is to cheapen human life; and, although a man is hanged because he has taken human life, the very fact that his life is taken by the Government tends to do away with the idea that human life is sacred.

Let me give you an illustration. A man in the city of Washington went to Alexandria, Va., for the purpose of seeing a man hanged who had murdered an old man and a woman for the purpose of getting their money. On his return from that execution he came through what is called the Smithsonian grounds. This was on the same day, late in the evening. There he met a peddler, whom he proceeded to murder for his money. He was arrested in a few hours, in a little while was tried and convicted, and in a little while was hanged. And another man, present at this second execution, went home on that same day, and, in passing by a butcher-shop near his house, went in, took from the shop a cleaver, went into his house and chopped his wife's head off.

This, I say, throws a little light upon the effect of public executions. In the Cignarale case, of course the sentence should have been commuted. I think, however, that she ought not to be imprisoned for life. From what I read of the testimony I think she should have been pardoned.

It is hard, I suppose, for a man fully to understand and enter into the feelings of a wife who has been trampled upon, abused, bruised, and blackened by the man she loved—by the man who made to her the vows of eternal affection. The woman, as a rule, is so weak, so helpless. Of course, it does not all happen in a moment. It comes on as the night comes. She notices that he does not act quite as affectionately as he formerly did. Day after day, month after month, she feels that she is entering a twilight. But she hopes that she is mistaken, and that the light will come again. The gloom deepens, and at last she is in midnight—a midnight without a star. And this man, whom she once worshiped, is now her enemy— one who delights to trample upon every sentiment she has—who delights in humiliating her, and who is guilty of a thousand nameless tyrannies. Under these circumstances, it is hardly right to hold that woman accountable for what she does. It has always seemed to me strange that a woman so circumstanced—in such fear that she dare not even tell her trouble—in such fear that she dare not even run away—dare not tell a father or a mother, for fear that she will be killed—I say, that in view of all this, it has always seemed strange to me that so few husbands have been poisoned.

The probability is that society raises its own criminals. It plows the land, sows the seed, and harvests the crop. I believe that the shadow of the gibbet will not always fall upon the earth. I believe the time will come when we shall know too much to raise criminals—know too much to crowd those that labor into the dens and dungeons that we call tenements, while the idle live in palaces. The time will come when men will know that real progress means the enfranchisement of the whole human race, and that our interests are so united, so interwoven, that the few cannot be happy while the many suffer; so that the many cannot be happy while the few suffer; so that none can be happy while one suffers. In other words, it will be found that the human race is interested in each individual. When that time comes we will stop producing criminals; we will stop producing failures; we will not leave the next generation to chance; we will not regard the gutter as a proper nursery for posterity.

People imagine that if the thieves are sent to the penitentiary, that is the last of the thieves; that if those who kill others are hanged, society is on a safe and enduring basis. But the trouble is here: A man comes to your front door and you drive him away. You have an idea that that man's case is settled. You are mistaken. He goes to the back door. He is again driven away. But the case is not settled. The next thing you know he enters at night. He is a burglar. He is caught; he is convicted; he is sent to the penitentiary, and you imagine that the case is settled. But it is not. You must remember that you have to keep all the agencies alive for the purpose of taking care of these people. You have to build and maintain your penitentiaries, your courts of justice; you have to pay your judges, your district attorneys, your juries, you witnesses, your detectives, your police—all these people must be paid. So that, after all, it is a very expensive way of settling this question. You could have done it far more cheaply had you found this burglar when he was a child; had you taken his father and mother from the tenement house, or had you compelled the owners to keep the tenement clean; or if you had widened the streets, if you had planted a few trees, if you had had plenty of baths, if you had had a school in the neighborhood. If you had taken some interest in this family—some interest in this child—instead of breaking into houses, he might have been a builder of houses.

There is, and it cannot be said too often, no reforming influence in punishment; no reforming power in revenge. Only the best of men should be in charge of penitentiaries; only the noblest minds and the tenderest hearts should have the care of criminals. Criminals should see from the first moment that they enter a penitentiary that it is filled with the air of kindness, full of the light of hope. The object should be to convince every criminal that he has made a mistake; that he has taken the wrong way; that the right way is the easy way, and that the path of crime never did and never can lead to happiness; that that idea is a mistake, and that the Government wishes to convince him that he has made a mistake; wishes to open his intellectual eyes; wishes so to educate him, so to elevate him, that he will look back upon what he has done, only with horror. This is reformation. Punishment is not. When the convict is taken to Sing Sing or to Auburn, and when a striped suit of clothes is put upon him—that is to say, when he is made to feel the degradation of his position—no step has been taken toward reformation. You have simply filled his heart with hatred. Then, when he has been abused for several years, treated like a wild beast, and finally turned out again in the community, he has no thought, in a majority of cases, except to "get even" with those who have persecuted him. He feels that it is a persecution.

Question. Do you think that men are naturally criminals and naturally virtuous?

Answer. I think that man does all that he does naturally—that is to say, a certain man does a certain act under certain circumstances, and he does this naturally. For instance, a man sees a five dollar bill, and he knows that he can take it without being seen. Five dollars is no temptation to him. Under the circumstances it is not natural that he should take it. The same man sees five million dollars, and feels that he can get possession of it without detection. If he takes it, then under the circumstances, that was natural to him. And yet I believe there are men above all price, and that no amount of temptation or glory or fame could mislead them. Still, whatever man does, is or was natural to him.

Another view of the subject is this: I have read that out of fifty criminals who had been executed it was found, I believe, in nearly all the cases, that the shape of the skull was abnormal. Whether this is true or not, I don't know; but that some men have a tendency toward what we call crime, I believe. Where this has been ascertained, then, it seems to me, such men should be placed where they cannot multiply their kind. Women who have a criminal tendency should be placed where they cannot increase their kind. For hardened criminals —that is to say, for the people who make crime a business—it would probably be better to separate the sexes; to send the men to one island, the women to another. Let them be kept apart, to the end that people with criminal tendencies may fade from the earth. This is not prompted by revenge. This would not be done for the purpose of punishing these people, but for the protection of society —for the peace and happiness of the future.

My own belief is that the system in vogue now in regard to the treatment of criminals in many States produces more crime than it prevents. Take, for instance, the Southern States. There is hardly a chapter in the history of the world the reading of which could produce greater indignation than the history of the convict system in many of the Southern States. These convicts are hired out for the purpose of building railways, or plowing fields, or digging coal, and in some instances the death-rate has been over twelve per cent. a month. The evidence shows that no respect was paid to the sexes—men and women were chained together indiscriminately. The evidence also shows that for the slightest offences they were shot down like beasts. They were pursued by hounds, and their flesh was torn from their bones.

So in some of the Northern prisons they have what they call the weighing machine—an infamous thing, and he who uses it commits as great a crime as the convict he punishes could have committed. All these things are degrading, debasing, and demoralizing. There is no need of any such punishment in any penitentiary. Let the punishment be of such kind that the convict is responsible himself. For instance, if the convict refuses to obey a reasonable rule he can be put into a cell. He can be fed when he obeys the rule.

If he goes hungry it is his own fault. It depends upon himself to say when he shall eat. Or he may be placed in such a position that if he does not work—if he does not pump—the water will rise and drown him. If the water does rise it is his fault. Nobody pours it upon him. He takes his choice.

These are suggested as desperate cases, but I can imagine no case where what is called corporal punishment should be inflicted, and the reason I am against it is this: I am opposed to any punishment that cannot be inflicted by a gentleman. I am opposed to any punishment the infliction of which tends to harden and debase the man who inflicts it. I am for no laws that have to be carried out by human curs.

Take, for instance, the whipping-post. Nothing can be more degrading. The man who applies the lash is necessarily a cruel and vulgar man, and the oftener he applies it the more and more debased he will become. The whole thing can be stated in the one sentence: I am opposed to any punishment that cannot be inflicted by a gentleman, and by "gentleman" I mean a self-respecting, honest, generous man.

Question. What do you think of the efficacy or the propriety of punishing criminals by solitary confinement?

Answer. Solitary confinement is a species of torture. I am opposed to all torture. I think the criminal should not be punished. He should be reformed, if he is capable of reformation. But, whatever is done, it should not be done as a punishment. Society should be too noble, too generous, to harbor a thought of revenge. Society should not punish, it should protect itself only. It should endeavor to reform the individual. Now, solitary confinement does not, I imagine, tend to the reformation of the individual. Neither can the person in that position do good to any human being. The prisoner will be altogether happier when his mind is engaged, when his hands are busy, when he has something to do. This keeps alive what we call cheerfulness. And let me say a word on this point.

I don't believe that the State ought to steal the labor of a convict. Here is a man who has a family. He is sent to the penitentiary. He works from morning till night. Now, in my judgment, he ought to be paid for the labor over and above what it costs to keep him. That money should be sent to his family. That money should be subject, at least, to his direction. If he is a single man, when he comes out of the penitentiary he should be given his earnings, and all his earnings, so that he would not have the feeling that he had been robbed. A statement should be given to him to show what it had cost to keep him and how much his labor had brought and the balance remaining in his favor. With this little balance he could go out into the world with something like independence. This little balance would be a foundation for his honesty—a foundation for a resolution on his part to be a man. But now each one goes out with the feeling that he has not only been punished for the crime which he committed, but that he has been robbed of the results of his labor while there.

The idea is simply preposterous that the people sent to the penitentiary should live in idleness. They should have the benefit of their labor, and if you give them the benefit of their labor they will turn out as good work as if they were out of the penitentiary. They will have the same reason to do their best. Consequently, poor articles, poorly constructed things, would not come into competition with good articles made by free people outside of the walls.

Now many mechanics are complaining because work done in the penitentiaries is brought into competition with their work. But the only reason that convict work is cheaper is because the poor wretch who does it is robbed. The only reason that the work is poor is because the man who does it has no interest in its being good. If he had the profit of his own labor he would do the best that was in him, and the consequence would be that the wares manufactured in the prisons would be as good as those manufactured elsewhere. For instance, we will say here are three or four men working together. They are all free men. One commits a crime and he is sent to the penitentiary. Is it possible that his companions would object to his being paid for honest work in the penitentiary?

And let me say right here, all labor is honest. Whoever makes a useful thing, the labor is honest, no matter whether the work is done in a penitentiary or in a palace; in a hovel or the open field. Wherever work is done for the good of others, it is honest work. If the laboring men would stop and think, they would know that they support everybody. Labor pays all the taxes. Labor supports all the penitentiaries. Labor pays the warden. Labor pays everything, and if the convicts are allowed to live in idleness labor must pay their board. Every cent of tax is borne by the back of labor. No matter whether your tariff is put on champagne and diamonds, it has to be paid by the men and women who work—those who plow in the fields, who wash and iron, who stand by the forge, who run the cars and work in the mines, and by those who battle with the waves of the sea. Labor pays every bill.

There is one little thing to which I wish to call the attention of all who happen to read this interview, and that is this: Undoubtedly you think of all criminals with horror and when you hear about them you are, in all probability, filled with virtuous indignation. But, first of all, I want you to think of what you have in fact done. Secondly, I want you to think of what you have wanted to do. Thirdly, I want you to reflect whether you were prevented from doing what you wanted to do by fear or by lack of opportunity. Then perhaps you will have more charity.

Question. What do you think of the new legislation in the State changing the death penalty to death by electricity?

Answer. If death by electricity is less painful than hanging, then the law, so far as that goes, is good. There is not the slightest propriety in inflicting upon the person executed one single unnecessary pang, because that partakes of the nature of revenge—that is to say, of hatred—and, as a consequence, the State shows the same spirit that the criminal was animated by when he took the life of his neighbor. If the death penalty is to be inflicted, let it be done in the most humane way. For my part, I should like to see the criminal removed, if he must be removed, with the same care and with the same mercy that you would perform a surgical operation. Why inflict pain? Who wants it inflicted? What good can it, by any possibility, do? To inflict unnecessary pain hardens him who inflicts it, hardens each among those who witness it, and tends to demoralize the community.

Question. Is it not the fact that punishments have grown less and less severe for many years past?

Answer. In the old times punishment was the only means of reformation. If anybody did wrong, punish him. If people still continued to commit the same offence, increase the punishment; and that went on until in what they call "civilized countries" they hanged people, provided they stole the value of one shilling. But larceny kept right on. There was no diminution. So, for treason, barbarous punishments were inflicted. Those guilty of that offence were torn asunder by horses; their entrails were cut out of them while they were yet living and thrown into their faces; their bodies were quartered and their heads were set on pikes above the gates of the city. Yet there was a hundred times more treason then than now. Every time a man was executed and mutilated and tortured in this way the seeds of other treason were sown.

So in the church there was the same idea. No reformation but by punishment. Of course in this world the punishment stopped when the poor wretch was dead. It was found that that punishment did not reform, so the church said: "After death it will go right on, getting worse and worse, forever and forever." Finally it was found that this did not tend to the reformation of mankind. Slowly the fires of hell have been dying out. The climate has been changing from year to year. Men have lost confidence in the power of the thumbscrew, the fagot, and the rack here, and they are losing confidence in the flames of perdition hereafter. In other words, it is simply a question of civilization.

When men become civilized in matters of thought, they will know that every human being has the right to think for himself, and the right to express his honest thought. Then the world of thought will be free. At that time they will be intelligent enough to know that men have different thoughts, that their ways are not alike, because they have lived under different circumstances, and in that time they will also know that men act as they are acted upon. And it is my belief that the time will come when men will no more think of punishing a man because he has committed the crime of larceny than they will think of punishing a man because he has the consumption. In the first case they will endeavor to reform him, and in the second case they will endeavor to cure him.

The intelligent people of the world, many of them, are endeavoring to find out the great facts in Nature that control the dispositions of men. So other intelligent people are endeavoring to ascertain the facts and conditions that govern what we call health, and what we call disease, and the object of these people is finally to produce a race without disease of flesh and without disease of mind. These people look forward to the time when there need to be neither hospitals nor penitentiaries.

New York World, August 5, 1888.


Question. Col. Robert G. Ingersoll, the great Agnostic, has always been an ardent defender of the sanctity of the home and of the marriage relation. Apropos of the horrible account of a man's tearing out the eyes of his wife at Far Rockaway last week, Colonel Ingersoll was asked what recourse a woman had under such circumstances?

Answer. I read the account, and I don't remember of ever having read anything more perfectly horrible and cruel. It is impossible for me to imagine such a monster, or to account for such an inhuman human being. How a man could deprive a human being of sight, except where some religious question is involved, is beyond my comprehension. We know that for many centuries frightful punishments were inflicted, and inflicted by the pious, by the theologians, by the spiritual minded, and by those who "loved their neighbors as themselves." We read the accounts of how the lids of men's eyes were cut off and then the poor victims tied where the sum would shine upon their lifeless orbs; of others who were buried alive; of others staked out on the sands of the sea, to be drowned by the rising tide; of others put in sacks filled with snakes. Yet these things appeared far away, and we flattered ourselves that, to a great degree, the world had outgrown these atrocities; and now, here, near the close of the nineteenth century, we find a man—a husband—cruel enough to put out the eyes of the woman he swore to love, protect and cherish. This man has probably been taught that there is forgiveness for every crime, and now imagines that when he repents there will be more joy in heaven over him than over ninety and nine good and loving husbands who have treated their wives in the best possible manner, and who, instead of tearing out their eyes, have filled their lives with content and covered their faces with kisses.

Question. You told me, last week, in a general way, what society should do with the husband in such a case as that. I would like to ask you to-day, what you think society ought to do with the wife in such a case, or what ought the wife to be permitted to do for herself?

Answer. When we take into consideration the crime of the man who blinded his wife, it is impossible not to think of the right of divorce. Many people insist that marriage is an indissoluble tie; that nothing can break it, and that nothing can release either party from the bond. Now, take this case at Far Rockaway. One year ago the husband tore out one of his wife's eyes. Had she then good cause for divorce? Is it possible that an infinitely wise and good God would insist on this poor, helpless woman remaining with the wild beast, her husband? Can anyone imagine that such a course would add to the joy of Paradise, or even tend to keep one harp in tune? Can the good of society require the woman to remain? She did remain, and the result is that the other eye has been torn from its socket by the hands of the husband. Is she entitled to a divorce now? And if she is granted one, is virtue in danger, and shall we lose the high ideal of home life? Can anything be more infamous than to endeavor to make a woman, under such circumstances, remain with such a man? It may be said that she should leave him—that they should live separate and apart. That is to say, that this woman should be deprived of a home; that she should not be entitled to the love of man; that she should remain, for the rest of her days, worse than a widow. That is to say, a wife, hiding, keeping out of the way, secreting herself from the hyena to whom she was married. Nothing, in my judgment, can exceed the heartlessness of a law or of a creed that would compel this woman to remain the wife of this monster. And it is not only cruel, but it is immoral, low, vulgar.

The ground has been taken that woman would lose her dignity if marriages were dissoluble. Is it necessary to lose your freedom in order to retain your character, in order to be womanly or manly? Must a woman in order to retain her womanhood become a slave, a serf, with a wild beast for a master, or with society for a master, or with a phantom for a master? Has not the married woman the right of self-defence? Is it not the duty of society to protect her from her husband? If she owes no duty to her husband; if it is impossible for her to feel toward him any thrill of affection, what is there of marriage left? What part of the contract remains in force? She is not to live with him, because she abhors him. She is not to remain in the same house with him, for fear he may kill her. What, then, are their relations? Do they sustain any relation except that of hunter and hunted—that is, of tyrant and victim? And is it desirable that this relation should be rendered sacred by a church? Is it desirable to have families raised under such circumstances? Are we really in need of the children born of such parents? If the woman is not in fault, does society insist that her life should be wrecked? Can the virtue of others be preserved only by the destruction of her happiness, and by what might be called her perpetual imprisonment? I hope the clergy who believe in the sacredness of marriage—in the indissolubility of the marriage tie—will give their opinions on this case. I believe that marriage is the most important contract that human beings can make. I always believe that a man will keep his contract; that a woman, in the highest sense, will keep hers, But suppose the man does not. Is the woman still bound?

Is there no mutuality? What is a contract? It is where one party promises to do something in consideration that the other party will do something. That is to say, there is a consideration on both sides, moving from one to the other. A contract without consideration is null and void; and a contract duly entered into, where the consideration of one party is withheld, is voidable, and can be voided by the party who has kept, or who is willing to keep, the contract. A marriage without love is bad enough. But what can we say of a marriage where the parties hate each other? Is there any morality in this—any virtue? Will any decent person say that a woman, true, good and loving, should be compelled to live with a man she detests, compelled to be the mother of his children? Is there a woman in the world who would not shrink from this herself? And is there a woman so heartless and so immoral that she would force another to bear what she would shudderingly avoid? Let us bring these questions home. In other words, let us have some sense, some feeling, some heart—and just a little brain. Marriages are made by men and women. They are not made by the State, and they are not made by the gods. By this time people should learn that human happiness is the foundation of virtue—the foundation of morality. Nothing is moral that does not tend to the well-being of sentient beings. Nothing is virtuous the result of which is not a human good. The world has always been living for phantoms, for ghosts, for monsters begotten by ignorance and fear. The world should learn to live for itself. Man should, by this time, be convinced that all the reasons for doing right, and all the reasons for doing wrong, are right here in this world—all within the horizon of this life. And besides, we should have imagination to put ourselves in the place of another. Let a man suppose himself a helpless wife, beaten by a brute who believes in the indissolubility of marriage. Would he want a divorce?

I suppose that very few people have any adequate idea of the sufferings of women and children; of the number of wives who tremble when they hear the footsteps of a returning husband; of the number of children who hide when they hear the voice of a father. Very few people know the number of blows that fall on the flesh of the helpless every day. Few know the nights of terror passed by mothers holding young children at their breasts. Compared with this, the hardships of poverty, borne by those who love each other, are nothing. Men and women, truly married, bear the sufferings of poverty. They console each other; their affection gives to the heart of each perpetual sunshine. But think of the others! I have said a thousand times that the home is the unit of good government. When we have kind fathers and loving mothers, then we shall have civilized nations, and not until then. Civilization commences at the hearthstone. When intelligence rocks the cradle—when the house is filled with philosophy and kindness—you will see a world a peace. Justice will sit in the courts, wisdom in the legislative halls, and over all, like the dome of heaven, will be the spirit of Liberty!

Question. What is your idea with regard to divorce?

Answer. My idea is this: As I said before, marriage is the most sacred contract—the most important contract—that human beings can make. As a rule, the woman dowers the husband with her youth—with all she has. From this contract the husband should never be released unless the wife has broken a condition; that is to say, has failed to fulfill the contract of marriage. On the other hand, the woman should be allowed a divorce for the asking. This should be granted in public, precisely as the marriage should be in public. Every marriage should be known. There should be witnesses, to the end that the character of the contract entered into should be understood; and as all marriage records should be kept, so the divorce should be open, public and known. The property should be divided by a court of equity, under certain regulations of law. If there are children, they should be provided for through the property and the parents. People should understand that men and women are not virtuous by law. They should comprehend the fact that law does not create virtue—that law is not the foundation, the fountain, of love. They should understand that love is in the human heart, and that real love is virtuous. People who love each other will be true to each other. The death of love is the commencement of vice. Besides this, there is a public opinion that has great weight. When that public opinion is right, it does a vast amount of good, and when wrong, a great amount of harm. People marry, or should marry, because it increases the happiness of each and all. But where the marriage turns out to have been a mistake, and where the result is misery, and not happiness, the quicker they are divorced the better, not only for themselves, but for the community at large. These arguments are generally answered by some donkey braying about free love, and by "free love" he means a condition of society in which there is no love. The persons who make this cry are, in all probability, incapable of the sentiment, of the feeling, known as love. They judge others by themselves, and they imagine that without law there would be no restraint.

What do they say of natural modesty? Do they forget that people have a choice? Do they not understand something of the human heart, and that true love has always been as pure as the morning star? Do they believe that by forcing people to remain together who despise each other they are adding to the purity of the marriage relation? Do they not know that all marriage is an outward act, testifying to that which has happened in the heart? Still, I always believe that words are wasted on such people. It is useless to talk to anybody about music who is unable to distinguish one tune from another. It is useless to argue with a man who regards his wife as his property, and it is hardly worth while to suggest anything to a gentleman who imagines that society is so constructed that it really requires, for the protection of itself, that the lives of good and noble women should be wrecked, I am a believer in the virtue of women, in the honesty of man. The average woman is virtuous; the average man is honest, and the history of the world shows it. If it were not so, society would be impossible. I don't mean by this that most men are perfect, but what I mean is this: That there is far more good than evil in the average human being, and that the natural tendency of most people is toward the good and toward the right. And I most passionately deny that the good of society demands that any good person should suffer. I do not regard government as a Juggernaut, the wheels of which must, of necessity, roll over and crush the virtuous, the self-denying and the good. My doctrine is the exact opposite of what is known as free love. I believe in the marriage of true minds and of true hearts. But I believe that thousands of people are married who do not love each other. That is the misfortune of our century. Other things are taken into consideration—position, wealth, title and the thousand things that have nothing to do with real affection. Where men and women truly love each other, that love, in my judgment, lasts as long as life. The greatest line that I know of in the poetry of the world is in the 116th sonnet of Shakespeare: "Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds."

Question. Why do you make such a distinction between the rights of man and the rights of women?

Answer. The woman has, as her capital, her youth, her beauty. We will say that she is married at twenty or twenty-five. In a few years she has lost her beauty. During these years the man, so far as capacity to make money is concerned—to do something—has grown better and better. That is to say, his chances have improved; hers have diminished. She has dowered him with the Spring of her life, and as her life advances her chances decrease. Consequently, I would give her the advantage, and I would not compel her to remain with him against her will. It seems to me far worse to be a wife upon compulsion than to be a husband upon compulsion. Besides this, I have a feeling of infinite tenderness toward mothers. The woman that bears children certainly should not be compelled to live with a man whom she despises. The suffering is enough when the father of the child is to her the one man of all the world. Many people who have a mechanical apparatus in their breasts that assists in the circulation of what they call blood, regard these views as sentimental. But when you take sentiment out of the world nothing is left worth living for, and when you get sentiment out of the heart it is nothing more or less than a pump, an old piece of rubber that has acquired the habit of contracting and dilating. But I have this consolation: The people that do not agree with me are those that do not understand me.

New York World, 1888.


Question. Colonel, what is your opinion of Secularism? Do you regard it as a religion?

Answer. I understand that the word Secularism embraces everything that is of any real interest or value to the human race. I take it for granted that everybody will admit that well-being is the only good; that is to say, that it is impossible to conceive of anything of real value that does not tend either to preserve or to increase the happiness of some sentient being. Secularism, therefore, covers the entire territory. It fills the circumference of human knowledge and of human effort. It is, you may say, the religion of this world; but if there is another world, it is necessarily the religion of that, as well.

Man finds himself in this world naked and hungry. He needs food, raiment, shelter. He finds himself filled with almost innumerable wants. To gratify these wants is the principal business of life. To gratify them without interfering with other people is the course pursued by all honest men.

Secularism teaches us to be good here and now. I know nothing better than goodness. Secularism teaches us to be just here and now. It is impossible to be juster than just.

Man can be as just in this world as in any other, and justice must be the same in all worlds. Secularism teaches a man to be generous, and generosity is certainly as good here as it can be anywhere else. Secularism teaches a man to be charitable, and certainly charity is as beautiful in this world and in this short life as it could be were man immortal.

But orthodox people insist that there is something higher than Secularism; but, as a matter of fact, the mind of man can conceive of nothing better, nothing higher, nothing more spiritual, than goodness, justice, generosity, charity. Neither has the mind of men been capable of finding a nobler incentive to action than human love. Secularism has to do with every possible relation. It says to the young man and to the young woman: "Don't marry unless you can take care of yourselves and your children." It says to the parents: "Live for your children; put forth every effort to the end that your children may know more than you—that they may be better and grander than you." It says: "You have no right to bring children into the world that you are not able to educate and feed and clothe." It says to those who have diseases that can be transmitted to children: "Do not marry; do not become parents; do not perpetuate suffering, deformity, agony, imbecility, insanity, poverty, wretchedness."

Secularism tells all children to do the best they can for their parents—to discharge every duty and every obligation. It defines the relation that should exist between husband and wife; between parent and child; between the citizen and the Nation. And not only that, but between nations.

Secularism is a religion that is to be used everywhere, and at all times—that is to be taught everywhere and practiced at all times. It is not a religion that is so dangerous that it must be kept out of the schools; it is not a religion that is so dangerous that it must be kept out of politics. It belongs in the schools; it belongs at the polls. It is the business of Secularism to teach every child; to teach every voter. It is its business to discuss all political problems, and to decide all questions that affect the rights or the happiness of a human being.

Orthodox religion is a firebrand; it must be kept out of the schools; it must be kept out of politics. All the churches unite in saying that orthodox religion is not for every day use. The Catholics object to any Protestant religion being taught to children. Protestants object to any Catholic religion being taught to children. But the Secularist wants his religion taught to all; and his religion can produce no feeling, for the reason that it consists of facts—of truths. And all of it is important; important for the child, important for the parent, important for the politician —for the President—for all in power; important to every legislator, to every professional man, to every laborer and every farmer—that is to say, to every human being.

The great benefit of Secularism is that is appeals to the reason of every man. It asks every man to think for himself. It does not threaten punishment if a man thinks, but it offers a reward, for fear that he will not think. It does not say, "You will be damned in another world if you think." But it says, "You will be damned in this world if you do not think."

Secularism preserves the manhood and the womanhood of all. It says to each human being: "Stand upon your own feet. Count one! Examine for yourself. Investigate, observe, think. Express your opinion. Stand by your judgment, unless you are convinced you are wrong, and when you are convinced, you can maintain and preserve your manhood or womanhood only by admitting that you were wrong."

It is impossible that the whole world should agree on one creed. It may be impossible that any two human beings can agree exactly in religious belief. Secularism teaches that each one must take care of himself, that the first duty of man is to himself, to the end that he may be not only useful to himself, but to others. He who fails to take care of himself becomes a burden; the first duty of man is not to be a burden.

Every Secularist can give a reason for his creed. First of all, he believes in work—taking care of himself. He believes in the cultivation of the intellect, to the end that he may take advantage of the forces of nature—to the end that he may be clothed and fed and sheltered.

He also believes in giving to every other human being every right that he claims for himself. He does not depend on prayer. He has no confidence in ghosts or phantoms. He knows nothing of another world, and knows just as little of a First Cause. But what little he does know, he endeavors to use, and to use for the benefit of himself and others.

He knows that he sustains certain relations to other sentient beings, and he endeavors to add to the aggregate of human joy. He is his own church, his own priest, his own clergyman and his own pope. He decides for himself; in other words, he is a free man.

He also has a Bible, and this Bible embraces all the good and true things that have been written, no matter by whom, or in what language, or in what time. He accepts everything that he believes to be true, and rejects all that he thinks is false. He knows that nothing is added to the probability of an event, because there has been an account of it written and printed.

All that has been said that is true is part of his Bible. Every splendid and noble thought, every good word, every kind action— all these you will find in his Bible. And, in addition to these, all that is absolutely known—that has been demonstrated—belongs to the Secularist. All the inventions, machines—everything that has been of assistance to the human race—belongs to his religion. The Secularist is in possession of everything that man has. He is deprived only of that which man never had. The orthodox world believes in ghosts and phantoms, in dreams and prayers, in miracles and monstrosities; that is to say, in modern theology. But these things do not exist, or if they do exist, it is impossible for a human being to ascertain the fact. Secularism has no "castles in Spain." It has no glorified fog. It depends upon realities, upon demonstrations; and its end and aim is to make this world better every day—to do away with poverty and crime, and to cover the world with happy and contended homes.

Let me say, right here, that a few years ago the Secular Hall at Leicester, England, was opened by a speech from George Jacob Holyoake, entitled, "Secularism as a Religion." I have never read anything better on the subject of Secularism than this address. It is so clear and so manly that I do not see how any human being can read it without becoming convinced, and almost enraptured.

Let me quote a few lies from this address:—

"The mind of man would die if it were not for Thought, and were
Thought suppressed, God would rule over a world of idiots.

"Nature feeds Thought, day and night, with a million hands.

"To think is a duty, because it is a man's duty not to be a fool.

"If man does not think himself, he is an intellectual pauper, living upon the truth acquired by others, and making no contribution himself in return. He has no ideas but such as he obtains by 'out- door relief,' and he goes about the world with a charity mind.

"The more thinkers there are in the world, the more truth there is in the world.

"Progress can only walk in the footsteps of Conviction.

"Coercion in thought is not progress, it reduces to ignominious pulp the backbone of the mind.

"By Religion I mean the simple creed of deed and duty, by which a man seeks his own welfare in his own way, with an honest and fair regard to the welfare and ways of others.

"In these thinking and practical days, men demand a religion of daily life, which stands on a business footing."

I think nothing could be much better than the following, which shows the exact relation that orthodox religion sustains to the actual wants of human beings:

"The Churches administer a system of Foreign Affairs.

"Secularism dwells in a land of its own. It dwells in a land of

"In the Kingdom of Thought there is no conquest over man, but over foolishness only."

I will not quote more, but hope all who read this will read the address of Mr. Holyoake, who has, in my judgment, defined Secularism with the greatest possible clearness.

Question. What, in your opinion, are the best possible means to spread this gospel or religion of Secularism?

Answer. This can only be done by the cultivation of the mind— only through intelligence—because we are fighting only the monsters of the mind. The phantoms whom we are endeavoring to destroy do not exist; they are all imaginary. They live in that undeveloped or unexplored part of the mind that belongs to barbarism.

I have sometimes thought that a certain portion of the mind is cultivated so that it rises above the surrounding faculties and is like some peak that has lifted itself above the clouds, while all the valleys below are dark or dim with mist and cloud. It is in this valley-region, amid these mists, beneath these clouds, that these monsters and phantoms are born. And there they will remain until the mind sheds light—until the brain is developed.

One exceedingly important thing is to teach man that his mind has limitations; that there are walls that he cannot scale—that he cannot pierce, that he cannot dig under. When a man finds the limitations of his own mind, he knows that other people's minds have limitations. He, instead of believing what the priest says, he asks the priest questions. In a few moments he finds that the priest has been drawing on his imagination for what is beyond the wall. Consequently he finds that the priest knows no more than he, and it is impossible that he should know more than he.

An ignorant man has not the slightest suspicion of what a superior man may do. Consequently, he is liable to become the victim of the intelligent and cunning. A man wholly unacquainted with chemistry, after having been shown a few wonders, is ready to believe anything. But a chemist who knows something of the limitations of that science—who knows what chemists have done and who knows the nature of things—cannot be imposed upon. When no one can be imposed upon, orthodox religion cannot exist. It is an imposture, and there must be impostors and there must be victims, or the religion cannot be a success.

Secularism cannot be a success, universally, as long as there is an impostor or a victim. This is the difference: The foundation of orthodox religion is imposture. The foundation of Secularism is demonstration. Just to the extent that a man knows, he becomes a Secularist.

Question. What do you think of the action of the Knights of Labor in Indiana in turning out one of their members because he was an Atheist, and because he objected to the reading of the Bible at lodge meetings?

Answer. In my judgment, the Knights of Labor have made a great mistake. They want liberty for themselves—they feel that, to a certain extent, they have been enslaved and robbed. If they want liberty, they should be willing to give liberty to others. Certainly one of their members has the same right to his opinion with regard to the existence of a God, that the other members have to theirs.

I do not blame this man for doubting the existence of a Supreme Being, provided he understands the history of liberty. When a man takes into consideration the fact that for many thousands of years labor was unpaid, nearly all of it being done by slaves, and that millions and hundreds of millions of human beings were bought and sold the same as cattle, and that during all that time the religions of the world upheld the practice, and the priests of the countless unknown gods insisted that the institution of slavery was divine— I do not wonder that he comes to the conclusion that, perhaps, after all, there is no Supreme Being—at least none who pays any particular attention to the affairs of this world.

If one will read the history of the slave-trade, of the cruelties practiced, of the lives sacrificed, of the tortures inflicted, he will at least wonder why "a God of infinite goodness and wisdom" did not interfere just a little; or, at least, why he did not deny that he was in favor of the trade. Here, in our own country, millions of men were enslaved, and hundreds and thousands of ministers stood up in their pulpits, with their Bibles in front of them, and proceeded to show that slavery was about the only institution that they were absolutely certain was divine. And they proved it by reading passages from this very Bible that the Knights of Labor in Indiana are anxious to have read in their meetings. For their benefit, let me call their attention to a few passages, and suggest that, hereafter, they read those passages at every meeting, for the purpose of convincing all the Knights that the Lord is on the side of those who work for a living:—

"Both thy bondsmen and thy bondsmaids which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen round about you; of them shall ye buy bondsmen and bondmaids.

"Moreover, of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families which are with you, which they begat in your land; and they shall be your possession.

"And ye shall take them as an inheritance, for your children after you to inherit them for a possession. They shall be your bondsmen forever."

Nothing seems more natural to me than that a man who believes that labor should be free, and that he who works should be free, should come to the conclusion that the passages above quoted are not entirely on his side. I don't see why people should be in favor of free bodies who are not also in favor of free minds. If the mind is to remain in imprisonment, it is hardly worth while to free the body. If the man has the right to labor, he certainly has the right to use his mind, because without mind he can do no labor. As a rule, the more mind he has, the more valuable his labor is, and the freer his mind is the more valuable he is.

If the Knights of Labor expect to accomplish anything in this world, they must do it by thinking. They must have reason on their side, and the only way they can do anything by thinking is to allow each other to think. Let all the men who do not believe in the inspiration of the Bible, leave the Knights of Labor and I do not know how many would be left. But I am perfectly certain that those left will accomplish very little, simply from their lack of sense.

Intelligent clergymen have abandoned the idea of plenary inspiration. The best ministers in the country admit that the Bible is full of mistakes, and while many of them are forced to say that slavery is upheld by the Old Testament they also insist that slavery was and is, and forever will be wrong. What had the Knights of Labor to do with a question of religion? What business is it of theirs who believes or disbelieves in the religion of the day? Nobody can defend the rights of labor without defending the right to think.

I hope that in time these Knights will become intelligent enough to read in their meetings something of importance; something that applies to this century; something that will throw a little light on questions under discussion at the present time. The idea of men engaged in a kind of revolution reading from Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Haggai, for the purpose of determining the rights of workingmen in the nineteenth century! No wonder such men have been swallowed by the whale of monopoly. And no wonder that, while that are in the belly of this fish, they insist on casting out a man with sense enough to understand the situation! The Knights of Labor have made a mistake and the sooner they reverse their action the better for all concerned. Nothing should be taught in this world that somebody does not know.

Secular Thought, Toronto, Canada, August 25, 1888.


Question. What is the best philosophy of summer recreation?

Answer. As a matter of fact, no one should be overworked. Recreation becomes necessary only when a man has abused himself or has been abused. Holidays grew out of slavery. An intelligent man ought not to work so hard to-day that he is compelled to rest to-morrow. Each day should have its labor and its rest. But in our civilization, if it can be called civilization, every man is expected to devote himself entirely to business for the most of the year and by that means to get into such a state of body and mind that he requires, for the purpose of recreation, the inconveniences, the poor diet, the horrible beds, the little towels, the warm water, the stale eggs and the tough beef of the average "resort." For the purpose of getting his mental and physical machinery in fine working order, he should live in a room for two or three months that is about eleven by thirteen; that is to say, he should live in a trunk, fight mosquitoes, quarrel with strangers, dispute bills, and generally enjoy himself; and this is supposed to be the philosophy of summer recreation. He can do this, or he can go to some extremely fashionable resort where his time is taken up in making himself and family presentable.

Seriously, there are few better summer resorts than New York City. If there were no city here it would be the greatest resort for the summer on the continent; with its rivers, its bay, with its wonderful scenery, with the winds from the sea, no better could be found. But we cannot in this age of the world live in accordance with philosophy. No particular theory can be carried out. We must live as we must; we must earn our bread and we must earn it as others do, and, as a rule, we must work when others work. Consequently, if we are to take any recreation we must follow the example of others; go when they go and come when they come. In other words, man is a social being, and if one endeavors to carry individuality to an extreme he must suffer the consequences. So I have made up my mind to work as little as I can and to rest as much as I can.

Question. What is your opinion of Mr. Gladstone as a controversialist?

Answer. Undoubtedly Mr. Gladstone is a man of great talent, of vast and varied information, and undoubtedly he is, politically speaking, at least, one of the greatest men in England—possibly the greatest. As a controversialist, and I suppose by that you mean on religious questions, he is certainly as good as his cause. Few men can better defend the indefensible than Mr. Gladstone. Few men can bring forward more probabilities in favor of the impossible, then Mr. Gladstone. He is, in my judgment, controlled in the realm of religion by sentiment; he was taught long ago certain things as absolute truths and he has never questioned them. He has had all he can do to defend them. It is of but little use to attack sentiment with argument, or to attack argument with sentiment. A question of sentiment can hardly be discussed; it is like a question of taste. A man is enraptured with a landscape by Corot; you cannot argue him out of his rapture; the sharper the criticism the greater his admiration, because he feels that it is incumbent upon him to defend the painter who has given him so much real pleasure. Some people imagine that what they think ought to exist must exist, and that what they really desire to be true is true. We must remember that Mr. Gladstone has been what is called a deeply religions man all his life. There was a time when he really believed it to be the duty of the government to see to it that the citizens were religious; when he really believed that no man should hold any office or any position under the government who was not a believer in the established religion; who was not a defender of the parliamentary faith. I do not know whether he has ever changed his opinions upon these subjects or not. There is not the slightest doubt as to his honesty, as to his candor. He says what he believes, and for his belief he gives the reasons that are satisfactory to him. To me it seems impossible that miracles can be defended. I do not see how it is possible to bring forward any evidence that any miracle was ever performed; and unless miracles have been performed, Christianity has no basis as a system. Mr. Hume took the ground that it was impossible to substantiate a miracle, for the reason that it is more probable that the witnesses are mistaken, or are dishonest, than that a fact in nature should be violated. For instance: A man says that a certain time, in a certain locality, the attraction of gravitation was suspended; that there were several moments during which a cannon ball weighed nothing, during which when dropped from the hand, or rather when released from the hand, it refused to fall and remained in the air. It is safe to say that no amount of evidence, no number of witnesses, could convince an intelligent man to-day that such a thing occurred. We believe too thoroughly in the constancy of nature. While men will not believe witnesses who testify to the happening of miracles now, they seem to have perfect confidence in men whom they never saw, who have been dead for two thousand years. Of course it is known that Mr. Gladstone has published a few remarks concerning my religious views and that I have answered him the best I could. I have no opinion to give as to that controversy; neither would it be proper for me to say what I think of the arguments advanced by Mr. Gladstone in addition to what I have already published. I am willing to leave the controversy where it is, or I am ready to answer any further objections that Mr. Gladstone may be pleased to urge.

In my judgment, the "Age of Faith" is passing away. We are living in a time of demonstration.

[NOTE: From an unfinished interview found among Colonel Ingersoll's papers.]


It has been decided in many courts in various States that the traffic in liquor can be regulated—that it is a police question. It has been decided by the courts in Iowa that its manufacture and sale can be prohibited, and, not only so, but that a distillery or a brewery may be declared a nuisance and may legally be abated, and these decisions have been upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States. Consequently, it has been settled by the highest tribunal that States have the power either to regulate or to prohibit the sale of intoxicating liquors, and not only so, but that States have the power to destroy breweries and distilleries without making any compensation to owners.

So it has always been considered within the power of the State to license the selling of intoxicating liquors. In other words, this question is one that the States can decide for themselves. It is not, and it should not be, in my judgment, a Federal question. It is something with which the United States has nothing to do. It belongs to the States; and where a majority of the people are in favor of prohibition and pass laws to that effect, there is nothing in the Constitution of the United States that interferes with such action.

The remaining question, then, is not a question of power, but a question of policy, and at the threshold of this question is another: Can prohibitory laws be enforced? There are to-day in Kansas,—a prohibition State—more saloons, that is to say, more places in which liquor is sold, than there are in Georgia, a State without prohibition legislation. There are more in Nebraska, according to the population, more in Iowa, according to the population, than in many of the States in which there is the old license system. You will find that the United States has granted more licenses to wholesale and retail dealers in these prohibition States,—according to the population,—than in many others in which prohibition has not been adopted.

These facts tend to show that it is not enough for the Legislature to say: "Be it enacted." Behind every law there must be an intelligent and powerful public opinion. A law, to be enforced, must be the expression of such powerful and intelligent opinion; otherwise it becomes a dead letter; it is avoided; judges continue the cases, juries refuse to convict, and witnesses are not particular about telling the truth. Such laws demoralize the community, or, to put it in another way, demoralized communities pass such laws.

Question. What do you think of the prohibitory movement on general principles?

Answer. The trouble is that when a few zealous men, intending to reform the world, endeavor to enforce unpopular laws, they are compelled to resort to detectives, to a system of espionage. For the purpose of preventing the sale of liquors somebody has to watch. Eyes and ears must become acquainted with keyholes. Every neighbor suspects every other. A man with a bottle or demijohn is followed. Those who drink get behind doors, in cellars and garrets. Hypocrisy becomes substantially universal. Hundreds of people become suddenly afflicted with a variety of diseases, for the cure of which alcohol in some form is supposed to be indispensable. Malaria becomes general, and it is perfectly astonishing how long a few pieces of Peruvian bark will last, and how often the liquor can be renewed without absorbing the medicinal qualities of the bark. The State becomes a paradise for patent medicine—the medicine being poor whiskey with a scientific name.

Physicians become popular in proportion as liquor of some kind figures in their prescriptions. Then in the towns clubs are formed, the principal object being to establish a saloon, and in many instances the drug store becomes a favorite resort, especially on Sundays.

There is, however, another side to this question. It is this: Nothing in the world is more important than personal liberty. Many people are in favor of blotting out the sun to prevent the growth of weeds. This is the mistake of all prohibitory fanaticism.

Question. What is true temperance, Colonel Ingersoll?

Answer. Men have used stimulants for many thousand years, and as much is used to-day in various forms as in any other period of the world's history. They are used with more prudence now than ever before, for the reason that the average man is more intelligent now than ever before. Intelligence has much to do with temperance. The barbarian rushes to the extreme, for the reason that but little, comparatively, depends upon his personal conduct or personal habits. Now the struggle for life is so sharp, competition is so severe, that few men can succeed who carry a useless burden. The business men of our country are compelled to lead temperate lives, otherwise their credit is gone. Men of wealth, men of intelligence, do not wish to employ intemperate physicians. They are not willing to trust their health or their lives with a physician who is under the influence of liquor. The same is true of business men in regard to their legal interests. They insist upon having sober attorneys; they want the counsel of a sober man. So in every department. On the railways it is absolutely essential that the engineer, that the conductor, the train dispatcher and every other employee, in whose hands are the lives of men, should be temperate. The consequence is that under the law of the survival of the fittest, the intemperate are slowly but surely going to the wall; they are slowly but surely being driven out of employments of trust and importance. As we rise in the scale of civilization we continually demand better and better service. We are continually insisting upon better habits, upon a higher standard of integrity, of fidelity. These are the causes, in my judgment, that are working together in the direction of true temperance.

Question. Do you believe the people can be made to do without a stimulant?

Answer. The history of the world shows that all men who have advanced one step beyond utter barbarism have used some kind of stimulant. Man has sought for it in every direction. Every savage loves it. Everything has been tried. Opium has been used by many hundreds of millions. Hasheesh has filled countless brains with chaotic dreams, and everywhere that civilization has gone the blood of the grape has been used. Nothing is easier now to obtain than liquor. In one bushel of corn there are at least five gallons— four can easily be extracted. All starch, all sugars, can be changed almost instantly into alcohol. Every grain that grows has in it the intoxicating principle, and, as a matter of fact, nearly all of the corn, wheat, sugar and starch that man eats is changed into alcohol in his stomach. Whether man can be compelled to do without a stimulant is a question that I am unable to answer. Of one thing I am certain: He has never yet been compelled to do without one. The tendency, I think, of modern times is toward a milder stimulant than distilled liquors. Whisky and brandies are too strong; wine and beer occupy the middle ground. Wine is a fireside, whisky a conflagration.

It seems to me that it would be far better if the Prohibitionists would turn their attention toward distilled spirits. If they were willing to compromise, the probability is that they would have public opinion on their side. If they would say: "You may have all the beer and all the wine and cider you wish, and you can drink them when and where you desire, but the sale of distilled spirits shall be prohibited," it is possible that this could be carried out in good faith in many if not in most of the States—possibly in all. We all know the effect of wine, even when taken in excess, is nothing near as disastrous as the effect of distilled spirits. Why not take the middle ground? The wine drinkers of the old country are not drunkards. They have been drinking wine for generations. It is drunk by men, women and children. It adds to the sociability of the family. It does not separate the husband from the rest, it keeps them all together, and in that view is rather a benefit than an injury. Good wine can be raised as cheaply here as in any part of the world. In nearly every part of our country the grape grows and good wine can be made. If our people had a taste for wine they would lose the taste for stronger drink, and they would be disgusted with the surroundings of the stronger drink.

The same may be said in favor of beer. As long as the Prohibitionists make no distinction between wine and whisky, between beer and brandy, just so long they will be regarded by most people as fanatics.

The Prohibitionists cannot expect to make this question a Federal one. The United States has no jurisdiction of this subject. Congress can pass no laws affecting this question that could have any force except in such parts of our country as are not within the jurisdiction of States. It is a question for the States and not for the Federal Government. The Prohibitionists are simply throwing away their votes. Let us suppose that we had a Prohibition Congress and a Prohibition President—what steps could be taken to do away with drinking in the city of New York? What steps could be taken in any State of this Union? What could by any possibility be done?

A few years ago the Prohibitionists demanded above all things that the tax be taken from distilled spirits, claiming at that time that such a tax made the Government a partner in vice.

Now when the Republican party proposes under certain circumstances to remove that tax, the Prohibitionists denounce the movement as one in favor of intemperance. We have also been told that the tax on whisky should be kept for the reason that it increases the price, and that an increased price tends to make a temperate people; that if the tax is taken off, the price will fall and the whole country start on the downward road to destruction. Is it possible that human nature stands on such slippery ground? It is possible that our civilization to-day rests upon the price of alcohol, and that, should the price be reduced, we would all go down together? For one, I cannot entertain such a humiliating and disgraceful view of human nature. I believe that man is destined to grow greater, grander and nobler. I believe that no matter what the cost of alcohol may be, life will grow too valuable to be thrown away. Men hold life according to its value. Men, as a rule, only throw away their lives when they are not worth keeping. When life becomes worth living it will be carefully preserved and will be hoarded to the last grain of sand that falls through the glass of time.

Question. What is the reason for so much intemperance?

Answer. When many people are failures, when they are distanced in the race, when they fall behind, when they give up, when they lose ambition, when they finally become convinced that they are worthless, precisely as they are in danger of becoming dishonest. In other words, having failed in the race of life on the highway, they endeavor to reach to goal by going across lots, by crawling through the grass. Disguise this matter as we may, all people are not successes, all people have not the brain or the muscle or the moral stamina necessary to succeed. Some fall in one way, some in another; some in the net of strong drink, some in the web of circumstances and others in a thousand ways, and the world itself cannot grow better unless the unworthy fail. The law is the survival of the fittest, that is to say, the destruction of the unfit. There is no scheme of morals, no scheme of government, no scheme of charity, that can reverse this law. If it could be reversed, then the result would be the survival of the unfittest, the speedy end of which would be the extinction of the human race.

Temperance men say that it is wise, in so far as possible, to remove temptation from our fellow-men.

Let us look at this in regard to other matters. How do we do away with larceny? We cannot remove property. We cannot destroy the money of the world to keep people from stealing some of it. In other words, we cannot afford to make the world valueless to prevent larceny. All strength by which temptation is resisted must come from the inside. Virtue does not depend upon the obstacles to be overcome; virtue depends upon what is inside of the man. A man is not honest because the safe of the bank is perfectly secure. Upon the honest man the condition of the safe has no effect. We will never succeed in raising great and splendid people by keeping them out of temptation. Great people withstand temptation. Great people have what may be called moral muscle, moral force. They are poised within themselves. They understand their relations to the world. The best possible foundation for honesty is the intellectual perception that dishonesty can, under no circumstances, be a good investment—that larceny is not only wicked, but foolish—not only criminal, but stupid—that crimes are committed only by fools.

On every hand there is what is called temptation. Every man has the opportunity of doing wrong. Every man, in this country, has the opportunity of drinking too much, has the opportunity of acquiring the opium habit, has the opportunity of taking morphine every day—in other words, has the opportunity of destroying himself. How are they to be prevented? Most of them are prevented—at least in a reasonable degree—and they are prevented by their intelligence, by their surroundings, by their education, by their objects and aims in life, by the people they love, by the people who love them.

No one will deny the evils of intemperance, and it is hardly to be wondered at that people who regard only one side—who think of the impoverished and wretched, of wives and children in want, of desolate homes—become the advocates of absolute prohibition. At the same time, there is a philosophic side, and the question is whether more good cannot be done by moral influence, by example, by education, by the gradual civilization of our fellow-men, than in any other possible way. The greatest things are accomplished by indirection. In this way the idea of force, of slavery, is avoided. The person influenced does not feel that he has been trampled upon, does not regard himself as a victim—he feels rather as a pupil, as one who receives a benefit, whose mind has been enlarged, whose life has been enriched—whereas the direct way of "Thou shalt not" produces an antagonism—in other words, produces the natural result of "I will."

By removing one temptation you add strength to others. By depriving a man of one stimulant, as a rule, you drive him to another, and the other may be far worse than the one from which he has been driven. We have hundreds of laws making certain things misdemeanors, which are naturally right.

Thousands of people, honest in most directions, delight in outwitting the Government—derive absolute pleasure from getting in a few clothes and gloves and shawls without the payment of duty. Thousands of people buy things in Europe for which they pay more than they would for the same things in America, and then exercise their ingenuity in slipping them through the custom-house.

A law to have real force must spring from the nature of things, and the justice of this law must be generally perceived, otherwise it will be evaded.

The temperance people themselves are playing into the hands of the very party that would refuse to count their votes. Allow the Democrats to remain in power, allow the Democrats to be controlled by the South, and a large majority might be in favor of temperance legislation, and yet the votes would remain uncounted. The party of reform has a great interest in honest elections, and honest elections must first be obtained as the foundation of reform. The Prohibitionists can take their choice between these parties. Would it not be far better for the Prohibitionists to say: "We will vote for temperance men; we will stand with the party that is the nearest in favor of what we deem to be the right"? They should also take into consideration that other people are as honest as they; that others disbelieve in prohibition as honestly as they believe in it, and that other people cannot leave their principles to vote for prohibition; and they must remember, that these other people are in the majority.

Mr. Fisk knows that he cannot be elected President—knows that it is impossible for him to carry any State in the Union. He also knows that in nearly every State in the Union—probably in all—a majority of the people believe in stimulants. Why not work with the great and enlightened majority? Why rush to the extreme for the purpose not only of making yourself useless but hurtful?

No man in the world is more opposed to intemperance than I am. No man in the world feels more keenly the evils and the agony produced by the crime of drunkenness. And yet I would not be willing to sacrifice liberty, individuality, and the glory and greatness of individual freedom, to do away with all the evils of intemperance. In other words, I believe that slavery, oppression and suppression would crowd humanity into a thousand deformities, the result of which would be a thousand times more disastrous to the well-being of man. I do not believe in the slave virtues, in the monotony of tyranny, in the respectability produced by force. I admire the men who have grown in the atmosphere of liberty, who have the pose of independence, the virtues of strength, of heroism, and in whose hearts is the magnanimity, the tenderness, and the courage born of victory.

New York World, October 21, 1888.


Why do people read a book like "Robert Elsmere," and why do they take any interest in it? Simply because they are not satisfied with the religion of our day. The civilized world has outgrown the greater part of the Christian creed. Civilized people have lost their belief in the reforming power of punishment. They find that whips and imprisonment have but little influence for good. The truth has dawned upon their minds that eternal punishment is infinite cruelty—that it can serve no good purpose and that the eternity of hell makes heaven impossible. That there can be in this universe no perfectly happy place while there is a perfectly miserable place—that no infinite being can be good who knowingly and, as one may say, willfully created myriads of human beings, knowing that they would be eternally miserable. In other words, the civilized man is greater, tenderer, nobler, nearer just than the old idea of God. The ideal of a few thousand years ago is far below the real of to-day. No good man now would do what Jehovah is said to have done four thousand years ago, and no civilized human being would now do what, according to the Christian religion, Christ threatens to do at the day of judgment.

Question. Has the Christian religion changed in theory of late years, Colonel Ingersoll?

Answer. A few years ago the Deists denied the inspiration of the Bible on account of its cruelty. At the same time they worshiped what they were pleased to call the God of Nature. Now we are convinced that Nature is as cruel as the Bible; so that, if the God of Nature did not write the Bible, this God at least has caused earthquakes and pestilence and famine, and this God has allowed millions of his children to destroy one another. So that now we have arrived at the question—not as to whether the Bible is inspired and not as to whether Jehovah is the real God, but whether there is a God or not. The intelligence of Christendom to-day does not believe in an inspired art or an inspired literature. If there be an infinite God, inspiration in some particular regard would be a patch—it would be the puttying of a crack, the hiding of a defect —in other words, it would show that the general plan was defective.

Question. Do you consider any religion adequate?

Answer. A good man, living in England, drawing a certain salary for reading certain prayers on stated occasions, for making a few remarks on the subject of religion, putting on clothes of a certain cut, wearing a gown with certain frills and flounces starched in an orthodox manner, and then looking about him at the suffering and agony of the world, would not feel satisfied that he was doing anything of value for the human race. In the first place, he would deplore his own weakness, his own poverty, his inability to help his fellow-men. He would long every moment for wealth, that he might feed the hungry and clothe the naked—for knowledge, for miraculous power, that he might heal the sick and the lame and that he might give to the deformed the beauty of proportion. He would begin to wonder how a being of infinite goodness and infinite power could allow his children to die, to suffer, to be deformed by necessity, by poverty, to be tempted beyond resistance; how he could allow the few to live in luxury, and the many in poverty and want, and the more he wondered the more useless and ironical would seem to himself his sermons and his prayers. Such a man is driven to the conclusion that religion accomplishes but little—that it creates as much want as it alleviates, and that it burdens the world with parasites. Such a man would be forced to think of the millions wasted in superstition. In other words, the inadequacy, the uselessness of religion would be forced upon his mind. He would ask himself the question: "Is it possible that this is a divine institution? Is this all that man can do with the assistance of God? Is this the best?"

Question. That is a perfectly reasonable question, is it not, Colonel Ingersoll?

Answer. The moment a man reaches the point where he asks himself this question he has ceased to be an orthodox Christian. It will not do to say that in some other world justice will be done. If God allows injustice to triumph here, why not there?

Robert Elsmere stands in the dawn of philosophy. There is hardly light enough for him to see clearly; but there is so much light that the stars in the night of superstition are obscured.

Question. You do not deny that a religious belief is a comfort?

Answer. There is one thing that it is impossible for me to comprehend. Why should any one, when convinced that Christianity is a superstition, have or feel a sense of loss? Certainly a man acquainted with England, with London, having at the same time something like a heart, must feel overwhelmed by the failure of what is known as Christianity. Hundreds of thousands exist there without decent food, dwelling in tenements, clothed with rags, familiar with every form of vulgar vice, where the honest poor eat the crust that the vicious throw away. When this man of intelligence, of heart, visits the courts; when he finds human liberty a thing treated as of no value, and when he hears the judge sentencing girls and boys to the penitentiary—knowing that a stain is being put upon them that all the tears of all the coming years can never wash away—knowing, too, and feeling that this is done without the slightest regret, without the slightest sympathy, as a mere matter of form, and that the judge puts this brand of infamy upon the forehead of the convict just as cheerfully as a Mexican brands his cattle; and when this man of intelligence and heart knows that these poor people are simply the victims of society, the unfortunates who stumble and over whose bodies rolls the Juggernaut—he knows that there is, or at least appears to be, no power above or below working for righteousness—that from the heavens is stretched no protecting hand. And when a man of intelligence and heart in England visits the workhouse, the last resting place of honest labor; when he thinks that the young man, without any great intelligence, but with a good constitution, starts in the morning of his life for the workhouse, and that it is impossible for the laboring man, one who simply has his muscle, to save anything; that health is not able to lay anything by for the days of disease—when the man of intelligence and heart sees all this, he is compelled to say that the civilization of to-day, the religion of to-day, the charity of to-day—no matter how much of good there may be behind them or in them, are failures.

A few years ago people were satisfied when the minister said: "All this will be made even in another world; a crust-eater here will sit at the head of the banquet there, and the king here will beg for the crumbs that fall from the table there." When this was said, the poor man hoped and the king laughed. A few years ago the church said to the slave: "You will be free in another world, and your freedom will be made glorious by the perpetual spectacle of your master in hell." But the people—that is, many of the people—are no longer deceived by what once were considered fine phrases. They have suffered so much that they no longer wish to see others suffer and no longer think of the suffering of others as a source of joy to themselves. The poor see that the eternal starvation of kings and queens in another world will be no compensation for what they have suffered there. The old religions appear vulgar and the ideas of rewards and punishments are only such as would satisfy a cannibal chief or one of his favorites.

Question. Do you think the Christian religion has made the world better?

Answer. For many centuries there has been preached and taught in an almost infinite number of ways a supernatural religion. During all this time the world has been in the care of the Infinite, and yet every imaginable vice has flourished, every imaginable pang has been suffered, and every injustice has been done. During all these years the priests have enslaved the minds, and the kings the bodies, of men. The priests did what they did in the name of God, and the kings appeal to the same source of authority. Man suffered as long as he could. Revolution, reformation, was simply a re- action, a cry from the poor wretch that was between the upper and the nether millstone. The liberty of man has increased just in the proportion that the authority of the gods has decreased. In other words, the wants of man, instead of the wishes of God, have inaugurated what we call progress, and there is this difference: Theology is based upon the narrowest and intensest form of selfishness. Of course, the theologian knows, the Christian knows, that he can do nothing for God; consequently all that he does must be and is for himself, his object being to win the approbation of this God, to the end that he may become a favorite. On the other side, men touched not only by their own misfortunes, but by the misfortunes of others, are moved not simply by selfishness, but by a splendid sympathy with their fellow-men.

Question. Christianity certainly fosters charity?

Answer. Nothing is more cruel than orthodox theology, nothing more heartless than a charitable institution. For instance, in England, think for a moment of the manner in which charities are distributed, the way in which the crust is flung at Lazarus. If that parable could be now retold, the dogs would bite him. The same is true in this country. The institution has nothing but contempt for the one it relieves. The people in charge regard the pauper as one who has wrecked himself. They feel very much as a man would feel rescuing from the water some hare-brained wretch who had endeavored to swim the rapids of Niagara—the moment they reach him they begin to upbraid him for being such a fool. This course makes charity a hypocrite, with every pauper for its enemy.

Mrs. Ward compelled Robert Elsmere to perceive, in some slight degree, the failure of Christianity to do away with vice and suffering, with poverty and crime. We know that the rich care but little for the poor. No matter how religious the rich may be, the sufferings of their fellows have but little effect upon them. We are also beginning to see that what is called charity will never redeem this world.

The poor man willing to work, eager to maintain his independence, knows that there is something higher than charity—that is to say, justice. He finds that many years before he was born his country was divided out between certain successful robbers, flatterers, cringers and crawlers, and that in consequence of such division not only he himself, but a large majority of his fellow-men are tenants, renters, occupying the surface of the earth only at the pleasure of others. He finds, too, that these people who have done nothing and who do nothing, have everything, and that those who do everything have but little. He finds that idleness has the money and that the toilers are compelled to bow to the idlers. He finds also that the young men of genius are bribed by social distinctions —unconsciously it may be—but still bribed in a thousand ways. He finds that the church is a kind of waste-basket into which are thrown the younger sons of titled idleness.

Question. Do you consider that society in general has been made better by religious influences?

Answer. Society is corrupted because the laurels, the titles, are in the keeping and within the gift of the corrupters. Christianity is not an enemy of this system—it is in harmony with it. Christianity reveals to us a universe presided over by an infinite autocrat—a universe without republicanism, without democracy—a universe where all power comes from one and the same source, and where everyone using authority is accountable, not to the people, but to this supposed source of authority. Kings reign by divine right. Priests are ordained in a divinely appointed way—they do not get their office from man. Man is their servant, not their master.

In the story of Robert Elsmere all there is of Christianity is left except the miraculous. Theism remains, and the idea of a protecting Providence is left, together with a belief in the immeasurable superiority of Jesus Christ. That is to say, the miracles are discarded for lack of evidence, and only for lack of evidence; not on the ground that they are impossible, not on the ground that they impeach and deny the integrity of cause and effect, not on the ground that they contradict the self-evident proposition that an effect must have an efficient cause, but like the Scotch verdict, "not proven." It is an effort to save and keep in repair the dungeons of the Inquisition for the sake of the beauty of the vines that have overrun them. Many people imagine that falsehoods may become respectable on account of age, that a certain reverence goes with antiquity, and that if a mistake is covered with the moss of sentiment it is altogether more credible than a parvenu fact. They endeavor to introduce the idea of aristocracy into the world of thought, believing, and honestly believing, that a falsehood long believed is far superior to a truth that is generally denied.

Question. If Robert Elsmere's views were commonly adopted what would be the effect?

Answer. The new religion of Elsmere is, after all, only a system of outdoor relief, an effort to get successful piracy to give up a larger per cent. for the relief of its victims. The abolition of the system is not dreamed of. A civilized minority could not by any possibility be happy while a majority of the world were miserable. A civilized majority could not be happy while a minority were miserable. As a matter of fact, a civilized world could not be happy while one man was really miserable. At the foundation of civilization is justice—that is to say, the giving of an equal opportunity to all the children of men. Secondly, there can be no civilization in the highest sense until sympathy becomes universal. We must have a new definition for success. We must have new ideals. The man who succeeds in amassing wealth, who gathers money for himself, is not a success. It is an exceedingly low ambition to be rich to excite the envy of others, or for the sake of the vulgar power it gives to triumph over others. Such men are failures. So the man who wins fame, position, power, and wins these for the sake of himself, and wields this power not for the elevation of his fellow-men, but simply to control, is a miserable failure. He may dispense thousands of millions in charity, and his charity may be prompted by the meanest part of his nature—using it simply as a bait to catch more fish and to prevent the rising tide of indignation that might overwhelm him. Men who steal millions and then give a small percentage to the Lord to gain the praise of the clergy and to bring the salvation of their souls within the possibilities of imagination, are all failures.

Robert Elsmere gains our affection and our applause to the extent that he gives up what are known as orthodox views, and his wife Catherine retains our respect in the proportion that she lives the doctrine that Elsmere preaches. By doing what she believes to be right, she gains our forgiveness for her creed. One is astonished that she can be as good as she is, believing as she does. The utmost stretch of our intellectual charity is to allow the old wine to be put in a new bottle, and yet she regrets the absence of the old bottle—she really believes that the bottle is the important thing—that the wine is but a secondary consideration. She misses the label, and not having perfect confidence in her own taste, she does not feel quite sure that the wine is genuine.

Question. What, on the whole, is your judgment of the book?

Answer. I think the book conservative. It is an effort to save something—a few shreds and patches and ravelings—from the wreck. Theism is difficult to maintain. Why should we expect an infinite Being to do better in another world than he has done and is doing in this? If he allows the innocent to suffer here, why not there? If he allows rascality to succeed in this world, why not in the next? To believe in God and to deny his personality is an exceedingly vague foundation for a consolation. If you insist on his personality and power, then it is impossible to account for what happens. Why should an infinite God allow some of his children to enslave others? Why should he allow a child of his to burn another child of his, under the impression that such a sacrifice was pleasing to him?

Unitarianism lacks the motive power. Orthodox people who insist that nearly everybody is going to hell, and that it is their duty to do what little they can to save their souls, have what you might call a spur to action. We can imagine a philanthropic man engaged in the business of throwing ropes to persons about to go over the falls of Niagara, but we can hardly think of his carrying on the business after being convinced that there are no falls, or that people go over them in perfect safety. In this country the question has come up whether all the heathen are bound to be damned unless they believe in the gospel. Many admit that the heathen will be saved if they are good people, and that they will not be damned for not believing something that they never heard. The really orthodox people—that is to say, the missionaries—instantly see that this doctrine destroys their business. They take the ground that there is but one way to be saved—you must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ—and they are willing to admit, and cheerfully to admit, that the heathen for many generations have gone in an unbroken column down to eternal wrath. And they not only admit this, but insist upon it, to the end that subscriptions may not cease. With them salary and salvation are convertible terms.

The tone of this book is not of the highest. Too much stress is laid upon social advantages—too much respect for fashionable folly and for ancient absurdity. It is hard for me to appreciate the feelings of one who thinks it difficult to give up the consolations of the gospel. What are the consolations of the Church of England? It is a religion imposed upon the people by authority. It is the gospel at the mouth of a cannon, at the point of a bayonet, enforced by all authority, from the beadle to the Queen. It is a parasite living upon tithes—these tithes being collected by the army and navy. It produces nothing—is simply a beggar—or rather an aggregation of beggars. It teaches nothing of importance. It discovers nothing. It is under obligation not to investigate. It has agreed to remain stationary not only, but to resist all innovation. According to the creed of this church, a very large proportion of the human race is destined to suffer eternal pain. This does not interfere with the quiet, with the serenity and repose of the average clergyman. They put on their gowns, they read the service, they repeat the creed and feel that their duty has been done. How any one can feel that he is giving up something of value when he finds that the Episcopal creed is untrue is beyond my imagination. I should think that every good man and woman would overflow with joy, that every heart would burst into countless blossoms the moment the falsity of the Episcopal creed was established.

Christianity is the most heartless of all religions—the most unforgiving, the most revengeful. According to the Episcopalian belief, God becomes the eternal prosecutor of his own children. I know of no creed believed by any tribe, not excepting the tribes where cannibalism is practiced, that is more heartless, more inhuman than this. To find that the creed is false is like being roused from a frightful dream, in which hundreds of serpents are coiled about you, in which their eyes, gleaming with hatred, are fixed on you, and finding the world bathed in sunshine and the songs of birds in your ears and those you love about you.

New York World, November 18, 1888.


Question. What is your opinion of the work undertaken by the World in behalf of the city slave girl?

Answer. I know of nothing better for a great journal to do. The average girl is so helpless, and the greed of the employer is such, that unless some newspaper or some person of great influence comes to her assistance, she is liable not simply to be imposed upon, but to be made a slave. Girls, as a rule, are so anxious to please, so willing to work, that they bear almost every hardship without complaint. Nothing is more terrible than to see the rich living on the work of the poor. One can hardly imagine the utter heartlessness of a man who stands between the wholesale manufacturer and the wretched women who make their living—or rather retard their death—by the needle. How a human being can consent to live on this profit, stolen from poverty, is beyond my imagination. These men, when known, will be regarded as hyenas and jackals. They are like the wild beasts which follow herds of cattle for the purpose of devouring those that are injured or those that have fallen by the wayside from weakness.

Question. What effect has unlimited immigration on the wages of women?

Answer. If our country were overpopulated, the effect of immigration would be to lessen wages, for the reason that the working people of Europe are used to lower wages, and have been in the habit of practicing an economy unknown to us. But this country is not overpopulated. There is plenty of room for several hundred millions more. Wages, however, are too low in the United States. The general tendency is to leave the question of labor to what is called the law of supply and demand. My hope is that in time we shall become civilized enough to know that there is a higher law, or rather a higher meaning in the law of supply and demand, than is now perceived. Year after year what are called the necessaries of life increase. Many things now regarded as necessaries were formerly looked upon as luxuries. So, as man becomes civilized, he increases what may be called the necessities of his life. When perfectly civilized, one of the necessities of his life will be that the lives of others shall be of some value to them. A good man is not happy so long as he knows that other good men and women suffer for raiment and for food, and have no roof but the sky, no home but the highway. Consequently what is called the law of supply and demand will then have a much larger meaning.

In nature everything lives upon something else. Life feeds upon life. Something is lying in wait for something else, and even the victim is weaving a web or crouching for some other victim, and the other victim is in the same business—watching for something else. The same is true in the human world—people are living on each other; the cunning obtain the property of the simple; wealth picks the pockets of poverty; success is a highwayman leaping from the hedge. The rich combine, the poor are unorganized, without the means to act in concert, and for that reason become the prey of combinations and trusts. The great questions are: Will man ever be sufficiently civilized to be honest? Will the time ever come when it can truthfully be said that right is might? The lives of millions of people are not worth living, because of their ignorance and poverty, and the lives of millions of others are not worth living, on account of their wealth and selfishness. The palace without justice, without charity, is as terrible as the hovel without food.

Question. What effect has the woman's suffrage movement had on the breadwinners of the country?

Answer. I think the women who have been engaged in the struggle for equal rights have done good for women in the direction of obtaining equal wages for equal work. There has also been for many years a tendency among women in our country to become independent —a desire to make their own living—to win their own bread. So many husbands are utterly useless, or worse, that many women hardly feel justified in depending entirely on a husband for the future. They feel somewhat safer to know how to do something and earn a little money themselves. If men were what they ought to be, few women would be allowed to labor—that is to say, to toil. It should be the ambition of every healthy and intelligent man to take care of, to support, to make happy, some woman. As long as women bear the burdens of the world, the human race can never attain anything like a splendid civilization. There will be no great generation of men until there has been a great generation of women. For my part, I am glad to hear this question discussed—glad to know that thousands of women take some interest in the fortunes and in the misfortunes of their sisters.

The question of wages for women is a thousand times more important than sending missionaries to China or to India. There is plenty for missionaries to do here. And by missionaries I do not mean gentlemen and ladies who distribute tracts or quote Scripture to people out of work. If we are to better the condition of men and women we must change their surroundings. The tenement house breeds a moral pestilence. There can be in these houses no home, no fireside, no family, for the reason that there is no privacy, no walls between them and the rest of the world. There is no sacredness, no feeling, "this is ours."

Question. Might not the rich do much?

Answer. It would be hard to overestimate the good that might be done by the millionaires if they would turn their attention to sending thousands and thousands into the country or to building them homes miles from the city, where they could have something like privacy, where the family relations could be kept with some sacredness. Think of the "homes" in which thousands and thousands of young girls are reared in our large cities. Think of what they see and what they hear; of what they come in contact with. How is it possible for the virtues to grow in the damp and darkened basements? Can we expect that love and chastity and all that is sweet and gentle will be produced in these surroundings, in cellars and garrets, in poverty and dirt? The surroundings must be changed.

Question. Are the fathers and brothers blameless who allow young girls to make coats, cloaks and vests in an atmosphere poisoned by the ignorant and low-bred?

Answer. The same causes now brutalizing girls brutalize their fathers and brothers, and the same causes brutalize the ignorant and low-lived that poison the air in which these girls are made to work. It is hard to pick out one man and say that he is to blame, or one woman and say that the fault is hers. We must go back of all this. In my opinion, society raises its own failures, its own criminals, its own wretches of every sort and kind. Great pains are taken to raise these crops. The seeds, it may be, were sown thousands of years ago, but they were sown, and the present is the necessary child of all the past. If the future is to differ from the present, the seeds must now be sown. It is not simply a question of charity, or a question of good nature, or a question of what we call justice—it is a question of intelligence. In the first place, I suppose that it is the duty of every human being to support himself—first, that he may not become a burden upon others, and second, that he may help others. I think all people should be taught never, under any circumstances, if by any possibility they can avoid it, to become a burden. Every one should be taught the nobility of labor, the heroism and splendor of honest effort. As long as it is considered disgraceful to labor, or aristocratic not to labor, the world will be filled with idleness and crime, and with every possible moral deformity.

Question. Has the public school system anything to do with the army of pupils who, after six years of study, willingly accept the injustice and hardship imposed by capital?

Answer. The great trouble with the public school is that many things are taught that are of no immediate use. I believe in manual training schools. I believe in the kindergarten system. Every person ought to be taught how to do something—ought to be taught the use of their hands. They should endeavor to put in palpable form the ideas that they gain. Such an education gives them a confidence in themselves, a confidence in the future—gives them a spirit and feeling of independence that they do not now have. Men go through college studying for many years, and when graduated have not the slightest conception of how to make a living in any department of human effort. Thousands of them are to-day doing manual labor and doing it very poorly, whereas, if they had been taught the use of tools, the use of their hands, they would derive a certain pleasure from their work. It is splendid to do anything well. One can be just as poetic working with iron and wood as working with words and colors.

Question. What ought to be done, or what is to be the end?

Answer. The great thing is for the people to know the facts. There are thousands and millions of splendid and sympathetic people who would willingly help, if they only knew; but they go through the world in such a way that they know but little of it. They go to their place of business; they stay in their offices for a few hours; they go home; they spend the evening there or at a club; they come in contact with the well-to-do, with the successful, with the satisfied, and they know nothing of the thousands and millions on every side. They have not the least idea how the world lives, how it works, how it suffers. They read, of course, now and then, some paragraph in which the misfortune of some wretch is set forth, but the wretch is a kind of steel engraving, an unreal shadow, a something utterly unlike themselves. The real facts should be brought home, the sympathies of men awakened, and awakened to such a degree that they will go and see how these people live, see how they work, see how they suffer.

Question. Does exposure do any good?

Answer. I hope that The World will keep on. I hope that it will express every horror that it can, connected with the robbery of poor and helpless girls, and I hope that it will publish the names of all the robbers it can find, and the wretches who oppress the poor and who live upon the misfortunes of women.

The crosses of this world are mostly born by wives, by mothers and by daughters. Their brows are pierced by thorns. They shed the bitterest tears. They live and suffer and die for others. It is almost enough to make one insane to think of what woman, in the years of savagery and civilization, has suffered. Think of the anxiety and agony of motherhood. Maternity is the most pathetic fact in the universe. Think how helpless girls are. Think of the thorns in the paths they walk—of the trials, the temptations, the want, the misfortune, the dangers and anxieties that fill their days and nights. Every true man will sympathize with woman, and will do all in his power to lighten her burdens and increase the sunshine of her life.

Question. Is there any remedy?

Answer. I have always wondered that the great corporations have made no provisions for their old and worn out employees. It seems to me that not only great railway companies, but great manufacturing corporations, ought to provide for their workmen. Many of them are worn out, unable longer to work, and they are thrown aside like old clothes. They find their way to the poorhouses or die in tenements by the roadside. This seems almost infinitely heartless. Men of great wealth, engaged in manufacturing, instead of giving five hundred thousand dollars for a library, or a million dollars for a college, ought to put this money aside, invest it in bonds of the Government, and the interest ought to be used in taking care of the old, of the helpless, of those who meet with accidents in their work. Under our laws, if an employee is caught in a wheel or in a band, and his arm or leg is torn off, he is left to the charity of the community, whereas the profits of the business ought to support him in his old age. If employees had this feeling—that they were not simply working for that day, not simply working while they have health and strength, but laying aside a little sunshine for the winter of age—if they only felt that they, by their labor, were creating a fireside in front of which their age and helplessness could sit, the feeling between employed and employers would be a thousand times better. On the great railways very few people know the number of the injured, of those who lose their hands or feet, of those who contract diseases riding on the tops of freight trains in snow and sleet and storm; and yet, when these men become old and helpless through accident, they are left to shift for themselves. The company is immortal, but the employees become helpless. Now, it seems to me that a certain per cent. should be laid aside, so that every brakeman and conductor could feel that he was providing for himself, as well as for his fellow-workmen, so that when the dark days came there would be a little light.

The men of wealth, the men who control these great corporations— these great mills—give millions away in ostentatious charity. They send missionaries to foreign lands. They endow schools and universities and allow the men who earned the surplus to die in want. I believe in no charity that is founded on robbery. I have no admiration for generous highwaymen or extravagant pirates. At the foundation of charity should be justice. Let these men whom others have made wealthy give something to their workmen—something to those who created their fortunes. This would be one step in the right direction. Do not let it be regarded as charity—let it be regarded as justice.

New York World, December 2, 1888.


Question. It is reported that you have been retained as counsel for the Actors' Order of Friendship—the Edwin Forrest Lodge of New York, and the Shakespeare Lodge of Philadelphia—for the purpose of securing the necessary legislation to protect American actors— is that so?

Answer. Yes, I have been retained for that purpose, and the object is simply that American actors may be put upon an equal footing with Americans engaged in other employments. There is a law now which prevents contractors going abroad and employing mechanics or skilled workmen, and bringing them to this country to take the places of our citizens.

No one objects to the English, German and French mechanics coming with their wives and children to this country and making their homes here. Our ports are open, and have been since the foundation of this Government. Wages are somewhat higher in this country than in any other, and the man who really settles here, who becomes, or intends to become an American citizen, will demand American wages. But if a manufacturer goes to Europe, he can make a contract there and bring hundreds and thousands of mechanics to this country who will work for less wages than the American, and a law was passed to prevent the American manufacturer, who was protected by a tariff, from burning the laborer's candle at both ends. That is to say, we do not wish to give him the American price, by means of a tariff, and then allow him to go to Europe and import his labor at the European price.

In the law, actors were excepted, and we now find the managers are bringing entire companies from the old county, making contracts with them there, and getting them at much lower prices than they would have had to pay for American actors.

No one objects to a foreign actor coming here for employment, but we do not want an American manager to go there, and employ him to act here. No one objects to the importation of a star. We wish to see and hear the best actors in the world. But the rest of the company—the support—should be engaged in the United States, if the star speaks English.

I see that it is contended over in England, that English actors are monopolizing the American stage because they speak English, while the average American actor does not. The real reason is that the English actor works for less money—he is the cheaper article. Certainly no one will accuse the average English actor of speaking English. The hemming and hawing, the aristocratic stutter, the dropping of h's and picking them up at the wrong time, have never been popular in the United States, except by way of caricature. Nothing is more absurd than to take the ground that the English actors are superior to the American. I know of no English actor who can for a moment be compared with Joseph Jefferson, or with Edwin Booth, or with Lawrence Barrett, or with Denman Thompson, and I could easily name others.

If English actors are so much better than American, how is it that an American star is supported by the English? Mary Anderson is certainly an American actress, and she is supported by English actors. Is it possible that the superior support the inferior? I do not believe that England has her equal as an actress. Her Hermione is wonderful, and the appeal to Apollo sublime. In Perdita she "takes the winds of March with beauty." Where is an actress on the English stage the superior of Julia Marlowe in genius, in originality, in naturalness?

Is there any better Mrs. Malaprop than Mrs. Drew, and better Sir Anthony than John Gilbert? No one denies that the English actors and actresses are great. No one will deny that the plays of Shakespeare are the greatest that have been produced, and no one wishes in any way to belittle the genius of the English people.

In this country the average person speaks fairly good English, and you will find substantially the same English spoken in most of the country; whereas in England there is a different dialect in almost every county, and most of the English people speak the language as if was not their native tongue. I think it will be admitted that the English write a good deal better than they speak, and that their pronunciation is not altogether perfect.

These things, however, are not worth speaking of. There is no absolute standard. They speak in the way that is natural to them, and we in the way that is natural to us. This difference furnishes no foundation for a claim of general superiority. The English actors are not brought here on account of their excellence, but on account of their cheapness. It requires no great ability to play the minor parts, or the leading roles in some plays, for that matter. And yet acting is a business, a profession, a means of getting bread.

We protect our mechanics and makers of locomotives and of all other articles. Why should we not protect, by the same means, the actor? You may say that we can get along without actors. So we can get along without painters, without sculptors and without poets. But a nation that gets along without these people of genius amounts to but little. We can do without music, without players and without composers; but when we take art and poetry and music and the theatre out of the world, it becomes an exceedingly dull place.

Actors are protected and cared for in proportion that people are civilized. If the people are intelligent, educated, and have imaginations, they enjoy the world of the stage, the creations of poets, and they are thrilled by great music, and, as a consequence, respect the dramatist, the actor and the musician.

Question. It is claimed that an amendment to the law, such as is desired, will interfere with the growth of art?

Answer. No one is endeavoring to keep stars from this country. If they have American support, and the stars really know anything, the American actors will get the benefit. If they bring their support with them, the American actor is not particularly benefitted, and the star, when the season is over, takes his art and his money with him.

Managers who insist on employing foreign support are not sacrificing anything for art. Their object is to make money. They care nothing for the American actor—nothing for the American drama. They look for the receipts. It is the sheerest cant to pretend that they are endeavoring to protect art.

On the 26th of February, 1885, a law was passed making it unlawful "for any person, company, partnership or corporation, in any manner whatsoever, to prepay the transportation, or in any way assist or encourage the importation or emigration of any alien or aliens into the United States, under contract or agreement, parol or special, previous to the importation or emigration of such aliens to perform labor or services of any kind the United States."

By this act it was provided that its provisions should not apply to professional actors, artists, lecturers or singers, in regard to persons employed strictly as personal or domestic servants. The object now in view is so to amend the law that its provision shall apply to all actors except stars.

Question. In this connection there has been so much said about the art of acting—what is your idea as to that art?

Answer. Above all things in acting, there must be proportion. There are no miracles in art or nature. All that is done—every inflection and gesture—must be in perfect harmony with the circumstances. Sensationalism is based on deformity, and bears the same relation to proportion that caricature does to likeness.

The stream that flows even with its banks, making the meadows green, delights us ever; the one that overflows surprises for a moment. But we do not want a succession of floods.

In acting there must be natural growth, not sudden climax. The atmosphere of the situation, the relation sustained to others, should produce the emotions. Nothing should be strained. Beneath domes there should be buildings, and buildings should have foundations. There must be growth. There should be the bud, the leaf, the flower, in natural sequence. There must be no leap from naked branches to the perfect fruit.

Most actors depend on climax—they save themselves for the supreme explosion. The scene opens with a slow match and ends when the spark reaches the dynamite. So, most authors fill the first act with contradictions and the last with explanations. Plots and counter-plots, violence and vehemence, perfect saints and perfect villains—that is to say, monsters, impelled by improbable motives, meet upon the stage, where they are pushed and pulled for the sake of the situation, and where everything is so managed that the fire reaches the powder and the explosion is the climax.

There is neither time, nor climate, nor soil, in which the emotions and intentions may grow. No land is plowed, no seed is sowed, no rain falls, no light glows—the events are all orphans.

No one would enjoy a sudden sunset—we want the clouds of gold that float in the azure sea. No one would enjoy a sudden sunrise—we are in love with the morning star, with the dawn that modestly heralds the day and draws aside, with timid hands, the curtains of the night. In other words, we want sequence, proportion, logic, beauty.

There are several actors in this country who are in perfect accord with nature—who appear to make no effort—whose acting seems to give them joy and rest. We do well what we do easily. It is a great mistake to exhaust yourself, instead of the subject. All great actors "fill the stage" because they hold the situation. You see them and nothing else.

Question. Speaking of American actors, Colonel, I believe you are greatly interested in the playing of Miss Marlowe, and have given your opinion of her as Parthenia; what do you think of her Julia and Viola?

Answer. A little while ago I saw Miss Marlowe as Julia, in "The Hunchback." We must remember the limitations of the play. Nothing can excel the simplicity, the joyous content of the first scene. Nothing could be more natural than the excitement produced by the idea of leaving what you feel to be simple and yet good, for what you think is magnificent, brilliant and intoxicating. It is only in youth that we are willing to make this exchange. One does not see so clearly in the morning of life when the sun shines in his eyes. In the afternoon, when the sun is behind him, he sees better —he is no longer dazzled. In old age we are not only willing, but anxious, to exchange wealth and fame and glory and magnificence, for simplicity. All the palaces are nothing compared with our little cabin, and all the flowers of the world are naught to the wild rose that climbs and blossoms by the lowly window of content.

Happiness dwells in the valleys with the shadows.

The moment Julia is brought in contact with wealth, she longs for the simple—for the true love of one true man. Wealth and station are mockeries. These feelings, these emotions, Miss Marlowe rendered not only with look and voice and gesture, but with every pose of her body; and when assured that her nuptials with the Earl could be avoided, the only question in her mind was as to the absolute preservation of her honor—not simply in fact, but in appearance, so that even hatred could not see a speck upon the shining shield of her perfect truth. In this scene she was perfect—everything was forgotten except the desire to be absolutely true.

So in the scene with Master Walter, when he upbraids her for forgetting that she is about to meet her father, when excusing her forgetfulness on the ground that he has been to her a father. Nothing could exceed the delicacy and tenderness of this passage. Every attitude expressed love, gentleness, and a devotion even unto death. One felt that there could be no love left for the father she expected to meet—Master Walter had it all.

A greater Julia was never on the stage—one in whom so much passion mingled with so much purity. Miss Marlowe never "o'ersteps the modesty of nature." She maintains proportion. The river of her art flows even with the banks.

In Viola, we must remember the character—a girl just rescued from the sea—disguised as a boy—employed by the Duke, whom she instantly loves—sent as his messenger to woo another for him—Olivia enamored of the messenger—forced to a duel—mistaken for her brother by the Captain, and her brother taken for herself by Olivia—and yet, in the midst of these complications and disguises, she remains a pure and perfect girl—these circumstances having no more real effect upon her passionate and subtle self than clouds on stars.

When Malvolio follows and returns the ring the whole truth flashes upon her. She is in love with Orsino—this she knows. Olivia, she believes, is in love with her. The edge of the situation, the dawn of this entanglement, excites her mirth. In this scene she becomes charming—an impersonation of Spring. Her laughter is as natural and musical as the song of a brook. So, in the scene with Olivia in which she cries, "Make me a willow cabin at your gate!" she is the embodiment of grace, and her voice is as musical as the words, and as rich in tone as they are in thought.

In the duel with Sir Andrew she shows the difference between the delicacy of woman and the cowardice of man. She does the little that she can, not for her own sake, but for the sake of her disguise —she feels that she owes something to her clothes.

But I have said enough about this actress to give you an idea of one who is destined to stand first in her profession.

We will now come back to the real question. I am in favor of protecting the American actor. I regard the theatre as the civilizer of man. All the arts united upon the stage, and the genius of the race has been lavished on this mimic world.

New York Star, December 23, 1888.


Question. What do you think of the prospects of Liberalism in this country?

Answer. The prospects of Liberalism are precisely the same as the prospects of civilization—that is to say, of progress. As the people become educated, they become liberal. Bigotry is the provincialism of the mind. Men are bigoted who are not acquainted with the thoughts of others. They have been taught one thing, and have been made to believe that their little mental horizon is the circumference of all knowledge. The bigot lives in an ignorant village, surrounded by ignorant neighbors. This is the honest bigot. The dishonest bigot may know better, but he remains a bigot because his salary depends upon it. A bigot is like a country that has had no commerce with any other. He imagines that in his little head there is everything of value. When a man becomes an intellectual explorer, an intellectual traveler, he begins to widen, to grow liberal. He finds that the ideas of others are as good as and often better than his own. The habits and customs of other people throw light on his own, and by this light he is enabled to discover at least some of his own mistakes. Now the world has become acquainted. A few years ago, a man knew something of the doctrines of his own church. Now he knows the creeds of others, and not only so, but he has examined to some extent the religions of other nations. He finds in other creeds all the excellencies that are in his own, and most of the mistakes. In this way he learns that all creeds have been produced by men, and that their differences have been accounted for by race, climate, heredity—that is to say, by a difference in circumstances. So we now know that the cause of Liberalism is the cause of civilization. Unless the race is to be a failure, the cause of Liberalism must succeed. Consequently, I have the same faith in that cause that I have in the human race.

Question. Where are the most Liberals, and in what section of the country is the best work for Liberalism being done?

Answer. The most Liberals are in the most intelligent section of the United States. Where people think the most, there you will find the most Liberals; where people think the least, you will find the most bigots. Bigotry is produced by feeling—Liberalism by thinking—that is to say, the one is a prejudice, the other a principle. Every geologist, every astronomer, every scientist, is doing a noble work for Liberalism. Every man who finds a fact, and demonstrates it, is doing work for the cause. All the literature of our time that is worth reading is on the liberal side. All the fiction that really interests the human mind is with us. No one cares to read the old theological works. Essays written by professors of theological colleges are regarded, even by Christians, with a kind of charitable contempt. When any demonstration of science is attacked by a creed, or a passage of Scripture, all the intelligent smile. For these reasons I think that the best work for Liberalism is being done where the best work for science is being done—where the best work for man is being accomplished. Every legislator that assists in the repeal of theological laws is doing a great work for Liberalism.

Question. In your opinion, what relation do Liberalism and Prohibition bear to each other?

Answer. I do not think they have anything to do with each other. They have nothing in common except this: The Prohibitionists, I presume, are endeavoring to do what they can for temperance; so all intelligent Liberals are doing what they can for the cause of temperance. The Prohibitionist endeavors to accomplish his object by legislation—the Liberalist by education, by civilization, by example, by persuasion. The method of the Liberalist is good, that of the Prohibitionist chimerical and fanatical.

Question. Do you think that Liberals should undertake a reform in the marriage and divorce laws and relations?

Answer. I think that Liberals should do all in their power to induce people to regard marriage and divorce in a sensible light, and without the slightest reference to any theological ideas. They should use their influence to the end that marriage shall be considered as a contract—the highest and holiest that men and women can make. And they should also use their influence to have the laws of divorce based on this fundamental idea,—that marriage is a contract. All should be done that can be done by law to uphold the sacredness of this relation. All should be done that can be done to impress upon the minds of all men and all women their duty to discharge all the obligations of the marriage contract faithfully and cheerfully. I do not believe that it is to the interest of the State or of the Nation, that people should be compelled to live together who hate each other, or that a woman should be bound to a man who has been false and who refuses to fulfill the contract of marriage. I do not believe that any man should call upon the police, or upon the creeds, or upon the church, to compel his wife to remain under his roof, or to compel a woman against her will to become the mother of his children. In other words, Liberals should endeavor to civilize mankind, and when men and women are civilized, the marriage question, and the divorce question, will be settled.

Question. Should Liberals vote on Liberal issues?

Answer. I think that, other things being anywhere near equal, Liberals should vote for men who believe in liberty, men who believe in giving to others the rights they claim for themselves—that is to say, for civilized men, for men of some breadth of mind. Liberals should do what they can to do away with all the theological absurdities.

Question. Can, or ought, the Liberals and Spiritualists to unite?

Answer. All people should unite where they have objects in common. They can vote together, and act together, without believing the same on all points. A Liberal is not necessarily a Spiritualist, and a Spiritualist is not necessarily a Liberal. If Spiritualists wish to liberalize the Government, certainly Liberals would be glad of their assistance, and if Spiritualists take any step in the direction of freedom, the Liberals should stand by them to that extent.

Question. Which is the more dangerous to American institutions —the National Reform Association (God-in-the-Constitution party) or the Roman Catholic Church?

Answer. The Association and the Catholic Church are dangerous according to their power. The Catholic Church has far more power than the Reform Association, and is consequently far more dangerous. The God-in-the-Constitution association is weak, fanatical, stupid, and absurd. What God are we to have in the Constitution? Whose God? If we should agree to-morrow to put God in the Constitution, the question would then be: Which God? On that question, the religious world would fall out. In that direction there is no danger. But the Roman Catholic Church is the enemy of intellectual liberty. It is the enemy of investigation. It is the enemy of free schools. That church always has been, always will be, the enemy of freedom. It works in the dark. When in a minority it is humility itself—when in power it is the impersonation of arrogance. In weakness it crawls—in power it stands erect, and compels its victims to fall upon their faces. The most dangerous institution in this world, so far as the intellectual liberty of man is concerned, is the Roman Catholic Church. Next to that is the Protestant Church.

Question. What is your opinion of the Christian religion and the Christian Church?

Answer. My opinion upon this subject is certainly well known. The Christian Church is founded upon miracles—that is to say, upon impossibilities. Of course, there is a great deal that is good in the creeds of the churches, and in the sermons delivered by its ministers; but mixed with this good is much that is evil. My principal objection to orthodox religion is the dogma of eternal pain. Nothing can be more infamously absurd. All civilized men should denounce it—all women should regard it with a kind of shuddering abhorrence.

Secular Thought, Toronto, Canada, 1888.


Question. Do you agree with the views of Pope Leo XIII. as expressed in The Herald of last week?

Answer. I am not personally acquainted with Leo XIII., but I have not the slightest idea that he loves Americans or their country. I regard him as an enemy of intellectual liberty. He tells us that where the church is free it will increase, and I say to him that where others are free it will not. The Catholic Church has increased in this country by immigration and in no other way. Possibly the Pope is willing to use his power for the good of the whole people, Protestants and Catholics, and to increase their prosperity and happiness, because by this he means that he will use his power to make Catholics out of Protestants.

It is impossible for the Catholic Church to be in favor of mental freedom. That church represents absolute authority. Its members have no right to reason—no right to ask questions—they are called upon simply to believe and to pay their subscriptions.

Question. Do you agree with the Pope when he says that the result of efforts which have been made to throw aside Christianity and live without it can be seen in the present condition of society— discontent, disorder, hatred and profound unhappiness?

Answer. Undoubtedly the people of Europe who wish to be free are discontented. Undoubtedly these efforts to have something like justice done will bring disorder. Those in power will hate those who are endeavoring to drive them from their thrones. If the people now, as formerly, would bear all burdens cheerfully placed upon their shoulders by church and state—that is to say, if they were so enslaved mentally that they would not even have sense enough to complain, then there would be what the Pope might call "peace and happiness"—that is to say, the peace of ignorance, and the happiness of those who are expecting pay in another world for their agonies endured in this.

Of course, the revolutionaries of Europe are not satisfied with the Catholic religion; neither are they satisfied with the Protestant. Both of these religions rest upon authority. Both discourage reason. Both say "Let him that hath ears to hear, hear," but neither say let him that hath brains to think, think.

Christianity has been thoroughly tried, and it is a failure. Nearly every church has upheld slavery, not only of the body, but of the mind. When Christian missionaries invade what they call a heathen country, they are followed in a little while by merchants and traders, and in a few days afterward by the army. The first real work is to kill the heathen or steal their lands, or else reduce them to something like slavery.

I have no confidence in the reformation of this world by churches. Churches for the most part exist, not for this world, but for another. They are founded upon the supernatural, and they say: "Take no thought for the morrow; put your trust in your Heavenly Father and he will take care of you." On the other hand, science says: "You must take care of yourself, live for the world in which you happen to be—if there is another, live for that when you get there."

Question. What do you think of the plan to better the condition of the workingmen, by committees headed by bishops of the Catholic Church, in discussing their duties?

Answer. If the bishops wish to discuss with anybody about duties they had better discuss with the employers, instead of the employed. This discussion had better take place between the clergy and the capitalist. There is no need of discussing this question with the poor wretches who cannot earn more than enough to keep their souls in their bodies. If the Catholic Church has so much power, and if it represents God on earth, let it turn its attention to softening the hearts of capitalists, and no longer waste its time in preaching patience to the poor slaves who are now bearing the burdens of the world.

Question. Do you agree with the Pope that: "Sound rules of life must be founded on religion"?

Answer. I do not. Sound rules of life must be founded on the experience of mankind. In other words, we must live for this world. Why should men throw away hundreds and thousands of millions of dollars in building cathedrals and churches, and paying the salaries of bishops and priests, and cardinals and popes, and get no possible return for all this money except a few guesses about another world —those guesses being stated as facts—when every pope and priest and bishop knows that no one knows the slightest thing on the subject. Superstition is the greatest burden borne by the industry of the world.

The nations of Europe to-day all pretend to be Christian, yet millions of men are drilled and armed for the purpose of killing other Christians. Each Christian nation is fortified to prevent other Christians from devastating their fields. There is already a debt of about twenty-five thousand millions of dollars which has been incurred by Christian nations, because each one is afraid of every other, and yet all say: "It is our duty to love our enemies."

This world, in my judgment, is to be reformed through intelligence —through development of the mind—not by credulity, but by investigation; not by faith in the supernatural, but by faith in the natural. The church has passed the zenith of her power. The clergy must stand aside. Scientists must take their places.

Question. Do you agree with the Pope in attacking the present governments of Europe and the memories of Mazzini and Saffi?

Answer. I do not. I think Mazzini was of more use to Italy than all the popes that ever occupied the chair of St. Peter—which, by the way, was not his chair. I have a thousand times more regard for Mazzini, for Garibaldi, for Cavour, than I have for any gentleman who pretends to be the representative of God.

There is another objection I have to the Pope, and that is that he was so scandalized when a monument was reared in Rome to the memory of Giordano Bruno. Bruno was murdered about two hundred and sixty years ago by the Catholic Church, and such has been the development of the human brain and heart that on the very spot where he was murdered a monument rises to his memory.

But the vicar of God has remained stationary, and he regards this mark of honor to one of the greatest and noblest of the human race as an act of blasphemy. The poor old man acts as if America had never been discovered—as if the world were still flat—and as if the stars had been made out of little pieces left over from the creation of the world and stuck in the sky simply to beautify the night.

But, after all, I do not blame this Pope. He is the victim of his surroundings. He was never married. His heart was never softened by wife or children. He was born that way, and, to tell you the truth, he has my sincere sympathy. Let him talk about America and stay in Italy.

The Herald, New York, April 22, 1890.


Question. What do you think of the sacredness of the Sabbath?

Answer. I think all days, all times and all seasons are alike sacred. I think the best day in a man's life is the day that he is truly the happiest. Every day in which good is done to humanity is a holy day.

If I were to make a calendar of sacred days, I would put down the days in which the greatest inventions came to the mind of genius; the days when scattered tribes became nations; the days when good laws were passed; the days when bad ones were repealed; the days when kings were dethroned, and the people given their own; in other words, every day in which good has been done; in which men and women have truly fallen in love, days in which babes were born destined to change the civilization of the world. These are all sacred days; days in which men have fought for the right, suffered for the right, died for the right; all days in which there were heroic actions for good. The day when slavery was abolished in the United States is holier than any Sabbath by reason of "divine consecration."

Of course, I care nothing about the sacredness of the Sabbath because it was hallowed in the Old Testament, or because of that day Jehovah is said to have rested from his labors. A space of time cannot be sacred, any more than a vacuum can be sacred, and it is rendered sacred by deeds done in it, and not in and of itself.

If we should finally invent some means of traveling by which we could go a thousand miles a day, a man could escape Sunday all his life by traveling West. He could start Monday, and stay Monday all the time. Or, if he should some time get near the North Pole, he could walk faster than the earth turns and thus beat Sunday all the while.

Question. Should not the museums and art galleries be thrown open to the workingmen free on Sunday?

Answer. Undoubtedly. In all civilized countries this is done, and I believe it would be done in New York, only it is said that money has been given on condition that the museums should be kept closed on Sundays. I have always heard it said that large sums will be withheld by certain old people who have the prospect of dying in the near future if the museums are open on Sunday.

This, however, seems to me a very poor and shallow excuse. Money should not be received under such conditions. One of the curses of our country has been the giving of gifts to colleges on certain conditions. As, for instance, the money given to Andover by the original founder on the condition that a certain creed be taught, and other large amounts have been given on a like condition. Now, the result of this is that the theological professor must teach what these donors have indicated, or go out of the institution; or —and this last "or" is generally the trouble—teach what he does not believe, endeavoring to get around it by giving new meaning to old words.

I think the cause of intellectual progress has been much delayed by these conditions put in the wills of supposed benefactors, so that after they are dead they can rule people who have the habit of being alive. In my opinion, a corpse is a poor ruler, and after a man is dead he should keep quiet.

Of course all that he did will live, and should be allowed to have its natural effect. If he was a great inventor or discoverer, or if he uttered great truths, these became the property of the world; but he should not endeavor, after he is dead, to rule the living by conditions attached to his gifts.

All the museums and libraries should be opened, not only to workingmen, but to all others. If to see great paintings, great statues, wonderful works of art; if to read the thoughts of the greatest men—if these things tend to the civilization of the race, then they should be put as nearly as possible within the reach of all.

The man who works eight or ten or twelve hours a day has not time during the six days of labor to visit libraries or museums. Sunday is his day of leisure, his day of recreation, and on that day he should have the privilege, and he himself should deem it a right to visit all the public libraries and museums, parks and gardens.

In other words, I think the laboring man should have the same rights on Sundays, to say the least of it, that wealthy people have on other days. The man of wealth has leisure. He can attend these places on any day he may desire; but necessity being the master of the poor man, Sunday is his one day for such a purpose. For men of wealth to close the museums and libraries on that day, shows that they have either a mistaken idea as to the well-being of their fellow-men, or that they care nothing about the rights of any except the wealthy.

Personally, I have no sort of patience with the theological snivel and drivel about the sacredness of the Sabbath. I do not understand why they do not accept the words of their own Christ, namely, that "the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath."

The hypocrites of Judea were great sticklers for the Sabbath, and the orthodox Christians of New York are exactly the same. My own opinion is that a man who has been at work all the week, in the dust and heat, can hardly afford to waste his Sunday in hearing an orthodox sermon—a sermon that gives him the cheerful intelligence that his chances for being damned are largely in the majority. I think it is far better for the workingman to go out with his family in the park, into the woods, to some German garden, where he can hear the music of Wagner, or even the waltzes of Strauss, or to take a boat and go down to the shore of the sea. I think than in summer a few waves of the ocean are far more refreshing then all the orthodox sermons of the world.

As a matter of fact, I believe the preachers leave the city in the summer and let the Devil do his worst. Whether it is believed that the Devil has less power in warm weather, I do not know. But I do know that, as the mercury rises, the anxiety about souls decreases, and the hotter New York becomes, the cooler hell seems to be.

I want the workingman, no matter what he works at—whether at doctoring people, or trying law suits, or running for office—to have a real good time on Sunday. He, of course, must be careful not to interfere with the rights of others. He ought not to play draw-poker on the steps of a church; neither should he stone a Chinese funeral, nor go to any excesses; but all the week long he should have it in his mind: Next Sunday I am going to have a good time. My wife and I and the children are going to have a happy time. I am going out with the girl I like; or my young man is going to take me to the picnic. And this thought, and this hope, of having a good time on Sunday—of seeing some great pictures at the Metropolitan Art Gallery—together with a good many bad ones— will make work easy and lighten the burden on the shoulders of toil.

I take a great interest, too, in the working women—particularly in the working woman. I think that every workingman should see to it that every working woman has a good time on Sunday. I am no preacher. All I want is that everybody should enjoy himself in a way that he will not and does not interfere with the enjoyment of others.

It will not do to say that we cannot trust the people. Our Government is based upon the idea that the people can be trusted, and those who say that the workingmen cannot be trusted, do not believe in Republican or Democratic institutions. For one, I am perfectly willing to trust the working people of the country. I do, every day. I trust the engineers on the cars and steamers. I trust the builders of houses. I trust all laboring men every day of my life, and if the laboring people of the country were not trustworthy—if they were malicious or dishonest—life would not be worth living.

The Journal, New York, June 6, 1890.


Question. Do you think the South will ever equal or surpass the West in point of prosperity?

Answer. I do not. The West has better soil and more of the elements of wealth. It is not liable to yellow fever; its rivers have better banks; the people have more thrift, more enterprise, more political hospitality; education is more general; the people are more inventive; better traders, and besides all this, there is no race problem. The Southern people are what their surroundings made them, and the influence of slavery has not yet died out. In my judgment the climate of the West is superior to that of the South. The West has good, cold winters, and they make people a little more frugal, prudent and industrious. Winters make good homes, cheerful firesides, and, after all, civilization commences at the hearthstone. The South is growing, and will continue to grow, but it will never equal the West. The West is destined to dominate the Republic.

Question. Do you consider the new ballot-law adapted to the needs of our system of elections? If not, in what particulars does it require amendment?

Answer. Personally I like the brave and open way. The secret ballot lacks courage. I want people to know just how I vote. The old viva voce way was manly and looked well. Every American should be taught that he votes as a sovereign—an emperor—and he should exercise the right in a kingly way. But if we must have the secret ballot, then let it be secret indeed, and let the crowd stand back while the king votes.

Question. What do you think of the service pension movement?

Answer. I see that there is a great deal of talk here in Indiana about this service pension movement. It has always seemed to me that the pension fund has been frittered away. Of what use is it to give a man two or three dollars a month? If a man is rich why should he have any pension? I think it would be better to give pensions only to the needy, and then give them enough to support them. If the man was in the army a day or a month, and was uninjured, and can make his own living, or has enough, why should he have a pension? I believe in giving to the wounded and disabled and poor, with a liberal hand, but not to the rich. I know that the nation could not pay the men who fought and suffered. There is not money enough in the world to pay the heroes for what they did and endured —but there is money enough to keep every wounded and diseased soldier from want. There is money enough to fill the lives of those who gave limbs or health for the sake of the Republic, with comfort and happiness. I would also like to see the poor soldier taken care of whether he was wounded or not, but I see no propriety in giving to those who do not need.

The Journal, Indianapolis, Indiana, June 21, 1890.


Question. What do you think of the revision of the Westminster creed?

Answer. I think that the intelligence and morality of the age demand the revision. The Westminster creed is infamous. It makes God an infinite monster, and men the most miserable of beings. That creed has made millions insane. It has furrowed countless cheeks with tears. Under its influence the sentiments and sympathies of the heart have withered. This creed was written by the worst of men. The civilized Presbyterians do not believe it. The intelligent clergyman will not preach it, and all good men who understand it, hold it in abhorrence. But the fact is that it is just as good as the creed of any orthodox church. All these creeds must be revised. Young America will not be consoled by the doctrine of eternal pain. Yes, the creeds must be revised or the churches will be closed.

Question. What do you think of the influence of the press on religion?

Answer. If you mean on orthodox religion, then I say the press is helping to destroy it. Just to the extent that the press is intelligent and fearless, it is and must be the enemy of superstition. Every fact in the universe is the enemy of every falsehood. The press furnishes food for, and excites thought. This tends to the destruction of the miraculous and absurd. I regard the press as the friend of progress and consequently the foe of orthodox religion. The old dogmas do not make the people happy. What is called religion is full of fear and grief. The clergy are always talking about dying, about the grave and eternal pain. They do not add to the sunshine of life. If they could have their way all the birds would stop singing, the flowers would lose their color and perfume, and all the owls would sit on dead trees and hoot, "Broad is the road that leads to death."

Question. If you should write your last sentence on religious topics what would be your closing?

Answer. I now in the presence of death affirm and reaffirm the truth of all that I have said against the superstitions of the world. I would say at least that much on the subject with my last breath.

Question. What, in your opinion, will be Browning's position in the literature of the future?

Answer. Lower than at present. Mrs. Browning was far greater than her husband. He never wrote anything comparable to "Mother and Poet." Browning lacked form, and that is as great a lack in poetry as it is in sculpture. He was the author of some great lines, some great thoughts, but he was obscure, uneven and was always mixing the poetic with the commonplace. To me he cannot be compared with Shelley or Keats, or with our own Walt Whitman. Of course poetry cannot be very well discussed. Each man knows what he likes, what touches his heart and what words burst into blossom, but he cannot judge for others. After one has read Shakespeare, Burns and Byron, and Shelley and Keats; after he has read the "Sonnets" and the "Daisy" and the "Prisoner of Chillon" and the "Skylark" and the "Ode to the Grecian Urn"—the "Flight of the Duchess" seems a little weak.

The Post-Express, Rochester, New York, June 23, 1890.


Question. What is your opinion of Ignatius Donnelly as a literary man irrespective of his Baconian theory?

Answer. I know that Mr. Donnelly enjoys the reputation of being a man of decided ability and that he is regarded by many as a great orator. He is known to me through his Baconian theory, and in that of course I have no confidence. It is nearly as ingenious as absurd. He has spent great time, and has devoted much curious learning to the subject, and has at last succeeded in convincing himself that Shakespeare claimed that which he did not write, and that Bacon wrote that which he did not claim. But to me the theory is without the slightest foundation.

Question. Mr. Donnelly asks: "Can you imagine the author of such grand productions retiring to that mud house in Stratford to live without a single copy of the quarto that has made his name famous?" What do you say?

Answer. Yes; I can. Shakespeare died in 1616, and the quarto was published in 1623, seven years after he was dead. Under these circumstances I think Shakespeare ought to be excused, even by those who attack him with the greatest bitterness, for not having a copy of the book. There is, however, another side to his. Bacon did not die until long after the quarto was published. Did he have a copy? Did he mention the copy in his will? Did he ever mention the quarto in any letter, essay, or in any way? He left a library, was there a copy of the plays in it? Has there ever been found a line from any play or sonnet in his handwriting? Bacon left his writings, his papers, all in perfect order, but no plays, no sonnets, said nothing about plays—claimed nothing on their behalf. This is the other side. Now, there is still another thing. The edition of 1623 was published by Shakespeare's friends, Heminge and Condell. They knew him—had been with him for years, and they collected most of his plays and put them in book form.

Ben Jonson wrote a preface, in which he placed Shakespeare above all the other poets—declared that he was for all time.

The edition of 1623 was gotten up by actors, by the friends and associates of Shakespeare, vouched for by dramatic writers—by those who knew him. This is enough.

Question. How do you explain the figure: "His soul, like Mazeppa, was lashed naked to the wild horse of every fear and love and hate"? Mr. Donnelly does not understand you.

Answer. It hardly seems necessary to explain a thing as simple and plain as that. Men are carried away by some fierce passion— carried away in spite of themselves as Mazeppa was carried by the wild horse to which he was lashed. Whether the comparison is good or bad it is at least plain. Nothing could tempt me to call Mr. Donnelly's veracity in question. He says that he does not understand the sentence and I most cheerfully admit that he tells the exact truth.

Question. Mr. Donnelly says that you said: "Where there is genius, education seems almost unnecessary," and he denounces your doctrine as the most abominable doctrine ever taught. What have you to say to that?

Answer. In the first place, I never made the remark. In the next place, it may be well enough to ask what education is. Much is taught in colleges that is of no earthly use; much is taught that is hurtful. There are thousands of educated men who never graduated from any college or university. Every observant, thoughtful man is educating himself as long as he lives. Men are better then books. Observation is a great teacher. A man of talent learns slowly. He does not readily see the necessary relation that one fact bears to another. A man of genius, learning one fact, instantly sees hundreds of others. It is not necessary for such a man to attend college. The world is his university. Every man he meets is a book—every woman a volume every fact a torch—and so without the aid of the so-called schools he rises to the very top. Shakespeare was such a man.

Question. Mr. Donnelly says that: "The biggest myth ever on earth was Shakespeare, and that if Francis Bacon had said to the people, I, Francis Bacon, a gentleman of gentlemen, have been taking in secret my share of the coppers and shillings taken at the door of those low playhouses, he would have been ruined. If he had put the plays forth simply as poetry it would have ruined his legal reputation." What do you think of this?

Answer. I hardly think that Shakespeare was a myth. He was certainly born, married, lived in London, belonged to a company of actors; went back to Stratford, where he had a family, and died. All these things do not as a rule happen to myths. In addition to this, those who knew him believed him to be the author of the plays. Bacon's friends never suspected him. I do not think it would have hurt Bacon to have admitted that he wrote "Lear" and "Othello," and that he was getting "coppers and shillings" to which he was justly entitled. Certainly not as much as for him to have written this, which if fact, though not in exact form, he did write: "I, Francis Bacon, a gentleman of gentlemen, have been taking coppers and shillings to which I was not entitled—but which I received as bribes while sitting as a judge." He has been excused for two reasons. First, because his salary was small, and, second, because it was the custom for judges to receive presents.

Bacon was a lawyer. He was charged with corruption—with having taken bribes, with having sold his decisions. He knew what the custom was and knew how small his salary was. But he did not plead the custom in his defense. He did not mention the smallness of the salary. He confessed that he was guilty—as charged. His confession was deemed too general and he was called upon by the Lords to make a specific confession. This he did. He specified the cases in which he had received the money and told how much, and begged for mercy. He did not make his confession, as Mr. Donnelly is reported to have said, to get his fine remitted. The confession was made before the fine was imposed.

Neither do I think that the theatre in which the plays of Shakespeare were represented could or should be called a "low play house." The fact that "Othello," "Lear," "Hamlet," "Julius Caesar," and the other great dramas were first played in that playhouse made it the greatest building in the world. The gods themselves should have occupied seats in that theatre, where for the first time the greatest productions of the human mind were put upon the stage.

The Tribune, Minneapolis, Minn., May 31, 1891.


Question. How have you acquired the art of growing old gracefully?

Answer. It is very hard to live a great while without getting old, and it is hardly worth while to die just to keep young. It is claimed that people with certain incomes live longer than those who have to earn their bread. But the income people have a stupid kind of life, and though they may hang on a good many years, they can hardly be said to do much real living. The best you can say is, not that they lived so many years, but that it took them so many years to die. Some people imagine that regular habits prolong life, but that depends somewhat on the habits. Only the other day I read an article written by a physician, in which regular habits —good ones, were declared to be quite dangerous.

Where life is perfectly regular, all the wear and tear comes on the same nerves—every blow falls on the same place. Variety, even in a bad direction, is a great relief. But living long has nothing to do with getting old gracefully. Good nature is a great enemy of wrinkles, and cheerfulness helps the complexion. If we could only keep from being annoyed at little things, it would add to the luxury of living. Great sorrows are few, and after all do not affect us as much as the many irritating, almost nothings that attack from every side. The traveler is bothered more with dust than mountains. It is a great thing to have an object in life— something to work for and think for. If a man thinks only about himself, his own comfort, his own importance, he will not grow old gracefully. More and more his spirit, small and mean, will leave its impress on his face, and especially in his eyes. You look at him and feel that there is no jewel in the casket; that a shriveled soul is living in a tumble-down house.

The body gets its grace from the mind. I suppose that we are all more or less responsible for our looks. Perhaps the thinker of great thoughts, the doer of noble deeds, moulds his features in harmony with his life.

Probably the best medicine, the greatest beautifier in the world, is to make somebody else happy. I have noticed that good mothers have faces as serene as a cloudless day in June, and the older the serener. It is a great thing to know the relative importance of things, and those who do, get the most out of life. Those who take an interest in what they see, and keep their minds busy are always young.

The other day I met a blacksmith who has given much attention to geology and fossil remains. He told me how happy he was in his excursions. He was nearly seventy years old, and yet he had the enthusiasm of a boy. He said he had some very fine specimens, "but," said he, "nearly every night I dream of finding perfect ones."

That man will keep young as long as he lives. As long as a man lives he should study. Death alone has the right to dismiss the school. No man can get too much knowledge. In that, he can have all the avarice he wants, but he can get too much property. If the business men would stop when they got enough, they might have a chance to grow old gracefully. But the most of them go on and on, until, like the old stage horse, stiff and lame, they drop dead in the road. The intelligent, the kind, the reasonably contented, the courageous, the self-poised, grow old gracefully.

Question. Are not the restraints to free religious thought being worn away, as the world grows older, and will not the recent attacks of the religious press and pulpit upon the unorthodoxy of Dr. Briggs, Rev. R. Heber Newton and the prospective Episcopal bishop of Massachusetts, Dr. Phillips Brooks, and others, have a tendency still further to extend this freedom?

Answer. Of course the world is growing somewhat wiser—getting more sense day by day. It is amazing to me that any human being or beings ever wrote the Presbyterian creed. Nothing can be more absurd—more barbaric than that creed. It makes man the sport of an infinite monster, and yet good people, men and women of ability, who have gained eminence in almost every department of human effort, stand by this creed as if it were filled with wisdom and goodness. They really think that a good God damns his poor ignorant children just for his own glory, and that he sends people to perdition, not for any evil in them, but to the praise of his glorious justice. Dr. Briggs has been wicked enough to doubt this phase of God's goodness, and Dr. Bridgman was heartless enough to drop a tear in hell. Of course they have no idea of what justice really is.

The Presbyterian General Assembly that has just adjourned stood by Calvinism. The "Five Points" are as sharp as ever. The members of that assembly—most of them—find all their happiness in the "creed." They need no other amusement. If they feel blue they read about total depravity—and cheer up. In moments of great sorrow they think of the tale of non-elect infants, and their hearts overflow with a kind of joy.

They cannot imagine why people wish to attend the theatre when they can read the "Confession of Faith," or why they should feel like dancing after they do read it.

It is very sad to think of the young men and women who have been eternally ruined by witnessing the plays of Shakespeare, and it is also sad to think of the young people, foolish enough to be happy, keeping time to the pulse of music, waltzing to hell in loving pairs—all for the glory of God, and to the praise of his glorious justice. I think, too, of the thousands of men and women who, while listening to the music of Wagner, have absolutely forgotten the Presbyterian creed, and who for a little while have been as happy as if the creed had never been written. Tear down the theatres, burn the opera houses, break all musical instruments, and then let us go to church.

I am not at all surprised that the General Assembly took up this progressive euchre matter. The word "progressive" is always obnoxious to the ministers. Euchre under another name might go. Of course, progressive euchre is a kind of gambling. I knew a young man, or rather heard of him, who won at progressive euchre a silver spoon. At first this looks like nothing, almost innocent, and yet that spoon, gotten for nothing, sowed the seed of gambling in that young man's brain. He became infatuated with euchre, then with cards in general, then with draw-poker in particular,—then into Wall Street. He is now a total wreck, and has the impudence to say that is was all "pre-ordained." Think of the thousands and millions that are being demoralized by games of chance, by marbles —when they play for keeps—by billiards and croquet, by fox and geese, authors, halma, tiddledywinks and pigs in clover. In all these miserable games, is the infamous element of chance—the raw material of gambling. Probably none of these games could be played exclusively for the glory of God. I agree with the Presbyterian General Assembly, if the creed is true, why should anyone try to amuse himself? If there is a hell, and all of us are going there, there should never be another smile on the human face. We should spend our days in sighs, our nights in tears. The world should go insane. We find strange combinations—good men with bad creeds, and bad men with good ones—and so the great world stumbles along.

The Blade, Toledo, Ohio, June 4, 1891.


There is a natural desire on the part of every intelligent human being to harmonize his information—to make his theories agree—in other words, to make what he knows, or thinks he knows, in one department, agree and harmonize with what he knows, or thinks he knows, in every other department of human knowledge.

The human race has not advanced in line, neither has it advanced in all departments with the same rapidity. It is with the race as it is with an individual. A man may turn his entire attention to some one subject—as, for instance, to geology—and neglect other sciences. He may be a good geologist, but an exceedingly poor astronomer; or he may know nothing of politics or of political economy. So he may be a successful statesman and know nothing of theology. But if a man, successful in one direction, takes up some other question, he is bound to use the knowledge he has on one subject as a kind of standard to measure what he is told on some other subject. If he is a chemist, it will be natural for him, when studying some other question, to use what he knows in chemistry; that is to say, he will expect to find cause and effect everywhere —succession and resemblance. He will say: It must be in all other sciences as in chemistry—there must be no chance. The elements have no caprice. Iron is always the same. Gold does not change. Prussic acid is always poison—it has no freaks. So he will reason as to all facts in nature. He will be a believer in the atomic integrity of all matter, in the persistence of gravitation. Being so trained, and so convinced, his tendency will be to weigh what is called new information in the same scales that he has been using.

Now, for the application of this. Progress in religion is the slowest, because man is kept back by sentimentality, by the efforts of parents, by old associations. A thousand unseen tendrils are twining about him that he must necessarily break if he advances. In other departments of knowledge inducements are held out and rewards are promised to the one who does succeed—to the one who really does advance—to the one who discovers new facts. But in religion, instead of rewards being promised, threats are made. The man is told that he must not advance; that if he takes a step forward, it is at the peril of his soul; that if he thinks and investigates, he is in danger of exciting the wrath of God. Consequently religion has been of the slowest growth. Now, in most departments of knowledge, man has advanced; and coming back to the original statement—a desire to harmonize all that we know—there is a growing desire on the part of intelligent men to have a religion fit to keep company with the other sciences.

Our creeds were made in times of ignorance. They suited very well a flat world, and a God who lived in the sky just above us and who used the lightning to destroy his enemies. This God was regarded much as a savage regarded the head of his tribe—as one having the right to reward and punish. And this God, being much greater than a chief of the tribe, could give greater rewards and inflict greater punishments. They knew that the ordinary chief, or the ordinary king, punished the slightest offence with death. They also knew that these chiefs and kings tortured their victims as long as the victims could bear the torture. So when they described their God, they gave this God power to keep the tortured victim alive forever —because they knew that the earthly chief, or the earthly king, would prolong the life of the tortured for the sake of increasing the agonies of the victim. In those savage days they regarded punishment as the only means of protecting society. In consequence of this they built heaven and hell on an earthly plan, and they put God—that is to say the chief, that is to say the king—on a throne like an earthly king.

Of course, these views were all ignorant and barbaric; but in that blessed day their geology and astronomy were on a par with their theology. There was a harmony in all departments of knowledge, or rather of ignorance. Since that time there has been a great advance made in the idea of government—the old idea being that the right to govern came from God to the king, and from the king to his people. Now intelligent people believe that the source of authority has been changed, and that all just powers of government are derived from the consent of the governed. So there has been a great advance in the philosophy of punishment—in the treatment of criminals. So, too, in all the sciences. The earth is no longer flat; heaven is not immediately above us; the universe has been infinitely enlarged, and we have at last found that our earth is but a grain of sand, a speck on the great shore of the infinite. Consequently there is a discrepancy, a discord, a contradiction between our theology and the other sciences. Men of intelligence feel this. Dr. Briggs concluded that a perfectly good and intelligent God could not have created billions of sentient beings, knowing that they were to be eternally miserable. No man could do such a thing, had he the power, without being infinitely malicious. Dr. Briggs began to have a little hope for the human race—began to think that maybe God is better than the creed describes him.

And right here it may be well enough to remark that no one has ever been declared a heretic for thinking God bad. Heresy has consisted in thinking God better than the church said he was. The man who said God will damn nearly everybody, was orthodox. The man who said God will save everybody, was denounced as a blaspheming wretch, as one who assailed and maligned the character of God. I can remember when the Universalists were denounced as vehemently and maliciously as the Atheists are to-day.

Now, Dr. Briggs is undoubtedly an intelligent man. He knows that nobody on earth knows who wrote the five books of Moses. He knows that they were not written until hundreds of years after Moses was dead. He knows that two or more persons were the authors of Isaiah. He knows that David did not write to exceed three or four of the Psalms. He knows that the Book of Job is not a Jewish book. He knows that the Songs of Solomon were not written by Solomon. He knows that the Book of Ecclesiastes was written by a Freethinker. He also knows that there is not in existence to-day—so far as anybody knows—any of the manuscripts of the Old or New Testaments.

So about the New Testament, Dr. Briggs knows that nobody lives who has ever seen an original manuscript, or who ever saw anybody that did see one, or that claims to have seen one. He knows that nobody knows who wrote Matthew or Mark or Luke or John. He knows that John did not write John, and that that gospel was not written until long after John was dead. He knows that no one knows who wrote the Hebrews. He also knows that the Book of Revelation is an insane production. Dr. Briggs also knows the way in which these books came to be canonical, and he knows that the way was no more binding than a resolution passed by a political convention. He also knows that many books were left out that had for centuries equal authority with those that were put in. He also knows that many passages— and the very passages upon which many churches are founded—are interpolations. He knows that the last chapter of Mark, beginning with the sixteenth verse to the end, is an interpolation; and he also knows that neither Matthew nor Mark nor Luke ever said one word about the necessity of believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, or of believing anything—not one word about believing the Bible or joining the church, or doing any particular thing in the way of ceremony to insure salvation. He knows that according to Matthew, God agreed to forgive us when we would forgive others. Consequently he knows that there is not one particle of what is called modern theology in Matthew, Mark, or Luke. He knows that the trouble commenced in John, and that John was not written until probably one hundred and fifty years—possibly two hundred years—after Christ was dead. So he also knows that the sin against the Holy Ghost is an interpolation; that "I came not to bring peace but a sword," if not an interpolation, is an absolute contradiction. So, too, he knows that the promise to forgive in heaven what the disciples should forgive on earth, is an interpolation; and that if its not an interpolation, it is without the slightest sense in fact.

Knowing these things, and knowing, in addition to what I have stated, that there are thirty thousand or forty thousand mistakes in the Old Testament, that there are a great many contradictions and absurdities, than many of the laws are cruel and infamous, and could have been made only by a barbarous people, Dr. Briggs has concluded that, after all, the torch that sheds the serenest and divinest light is the human reason, and that we must investigate the Bible as we do other books. At least, I suppose he has reached some such conclusion. He may imagine that the pure gold of inspiration still runs through the quartz and porphyry of ignorance and mistake, and that all we have to do is to extract the shining metal by some process that may be called theological smelting; and if so I have no fault to find. Dr. Briggs has taken a step in advance—that is to say, the tree is growing, and when the tree grows, the bark splits; when the new leaves come the old leaves are rotting on the ground.

The Presbyterian creed is a very bad creed. It has been the stumbling-block, not only of the head, but of the heart for many generations. I do not know that it is, in fact, worse than any other orthodox creed; but the bad features are stated with an explicitness and emphasized with a candor that render the creed absolutely appalling. It is amazing to me that any man ever wrote it, or that any set of men ever produced it. It is more amazing to me that any human being ever believed in it. It is still more amazing that any human being ever thought it wicked not to believe it. It is more amazing still, than all the others combined, that any human being ever wanted it to be true.

This creed is a relic of the Middle Ages. It has in it the malice, the malicious logic, the total depravity, the utter heartlessness of John Calvin, and it gives me great pleasure to say that no Presbyterian was ever as bad as his creed. And here let me say, as I have said many times, that I do not hate Presbyterians—because among them I count some of my best friends—but I hate Presbyterianism. And I cannot illustrate this any better than by saying, I do not hate a man because he has the rheumatism, but I hate the rheumatism because it has a man.

The Presbyterian Church is growing, and is growing because, as I said at first, there is a universal tendency in the mind of man to harmonize all that he knows or thinks he knows. This growth may be delayed. The buds of heresy may be kept back by the north wind of Princeton and by the early frost called Patton. In spite of these souvenirs of the Dark Ages, the church must continue to grow. The theologians who regard theology as something higher than a trade, tend toward Liberalism. Those who regard preaching as a business, and the inculcation of sentiment as a trade, will stand by the lowest possible views. They will cling to the letter and throw away the spirit. They prefer the dead limb to a new bud or to a new leaf. They want no more sap. They delight in the dead tree, in its unbending nature, and they mistake the stiffness of death for the vigor and resistance of life.

Now, as with Dr. Briggs, so with Dr. Bridgman, although it seems to me that he has simply jumped from the frying-pan into the fire; and why he should prefer the Episcopal creed to the Baptist, is more than I can imagine. The Episcopal creed is, in fact, just as bad as the Presbyterian. It calmly and with unruffled brow, utters the sentence of eternal punishment on the majority of the human race, and the Episcopalian expects to be happy in heaven, with his son or daughter or his mother or wife in hell.

Dr. Bridgman will find himself exactly in the position of the Rev. Mr. Newton, provided he expresses his thought. But I account for the Bridgmans and for the Newtons by the fact that there is still sympathy in the human heart, and that there is still intelligence in the human brain. For my part, I am glad to see this growth in the orthodox churches, and the quicker they revise their creeds the better.

I oppose nothing that is good in any creed—I attack only that which is ignorant, cruel and absurd, and I make the attack in the interest of human liberty, and for the sake of human happiness.

Question. What do you think of the action of the Presbyterian General Assembly at Detroit, and what effect do you think it will have on religious growth?

Answer. That General Assembly was controlled by the orthodox within the church, by the strict constructionists and by the Calvinists; by gentlemen who not only believe the creed, not only believe that a vast majority of people are going to hell, but are really glad of it; by gentlemen who, when they feel a little blue, read about total depravity to cheer up, and when they think of the mercy of God as exhibited in their salvation, and the justice of God as illustrated by the damnation of others, their hearts burst into a kind of efflorescence of joy.

These gentlemen are opposed to all kinds of amusements except reading the Bible, the Confession of Faith, and the creed, and listening to Presbyterian sermons and prayers. All these things they regard as the food of cheerfulness. They warn the elect against theatres and operas, dancing and games of chance.

Well, if their doctrine is true, there ought to be no theatres, except exhibitions of hell; there ought to be no operas, except where the music is a succession of wails for the misfortunes of man. If their doctrine is true, I do not see how any human being could ever smile again—I do not see how a mother could welcome her babe; everything in nature would become hateful; flowers and sunshine would simply tell us of our fate.

My doctrine is exactly the opposite of this. Let us enjoy ourselves every moment that we can. The love of the dramatic is universal. The stage has not simply amused, but it has elevated mankind. The greatest genius of our world poured the treasures of his soul into the drama. I do not believe that any girl can be corrupted, or that any man can be injured, by becoming acquainted with Isabella or Miranda or Juliet or Imogen, or any of the great heroines of Shakespeare.

So I regard the opera as one of the great civilizers. No one can listen to the symphonies of Beethoven, or the music of Schubert, without receiving a benefit. And no one can hear the operas of Wagner without feeling that he has been ennobled and refined.

Why is it the Presbyterians are so opposed to music in the world, and yet expect to have so much in heaven? Is not music just as demoralizing in the sky as on the earth, and does anybody believe that Abraham or Isaac or Jacob, ever played any music comparable to Wagner?

Why should we postpone our joy to another world? Thousands of people take great pleasure in dancing, and I say let them dance. Dancing is better than weeping and wailing over a theology born of ignorance and superstition.

And so with games of chance. There is a certain pleasure in playing games, and the pleasure is of the most innocent character. Let all these games be played at home and children will not prefer the saloon to the society of their parents. I believe in cards and billiards, and would believe in progressive euchre, were it more of a game—the great objection to it is its lack of complexity. My idea is to get what little happiness you can out of this life, and to enjoy all sunshine that breaks through the clouds of misfortune. Life is poor enough at best. No one should fail to pick up every jewel of joy that can be found in his path. Every one should be as happy as he can, provided he is not happy at the expense of another, and no person rightly constituted can be happy at the expense of another.

So let us get all we can of good between the cradle and the grave; all that we can of the truly dramatic; all that we can of music; all that we can of art; all that we can of enjoyment; and if, when death comes, that is the end, we have at least made the best of this life; and if there be another life, let us make the best of that.

I am doing what little I can to hasten the coming of the day when the human race will enjoy liberty—not simply of body, but liberty of mind. And by liberty of mind I mean freedom from superstition, and added to that, the intelligence to find out the conditions of happiness; and added to that, the wisdom to live in accordance with those conditions.

The Morning Advertiser, New York, June 12, 1891.


Question. Do you regard the Briggs trial as any evidence of the growth of Liberalism in the church itself?

Answer. When men get together, and make what they call a creed, the supposition is that they then say as nearly as possible what they mean and what they believe. A written creed, of necessity, remains substantially the same. In a few years this creed ceases to give exactly the new shade of thought. Then begin two processes, one of destruction and the other of preservation. In every church, as in every party, and as you may say in every corporation, there are two wings—one progressive, the other conservative. In the church there will be a few, and they will represent the real intelligence of the church, who become dissatisfied with the creed, and who at first satisfy themselves by giving new meanings to old words. On the other hand, the conservative party appeals to emotions, to memories, and to the experiences of their fellow- members, for the purpose of upholding the old dogmas and the old ideas; so that each creed is like a crumbling castle. The conservatives plant ivy and other vines, hoping that their leaves will hide the cracks and erosions of time; but the thoughtful see beyond these leaves and are satisfied that the structure itself is in the process of decay, and that no amount of ivy can restore the crumbling stones.

The old Presbyterian creed, when it was first formulated, satisfied a certain religious intellect. At that time people were not very merciful. They had no clear conceptions of justice. Their lives were for the most part hard; most of them suffered the pains and pangs of poverty; nearly all lived in tyrannical governments and were the sport of nobles and kings. Their idea of God was born of their surroundings. God, to them, was an infinite king who delighted in exhibitions of power. At any rate, their minds were so constructed that they conceived of an infinite being who, billions of years before the world was, made up his mind as to whom he would save and whom he would damn. He not only made up his mind as to the number he would save, and the number that should be lost, but he saved and damned without the slightest reference to the character of the individual. They believed then, and some pretend to believe still, that God damns a man not because he is bad, and that he saves a man not because he is good, but simply for the purpose of self-glorification as an exhibition of his eternal justice. It would be impossible to conceive of any creed more horrible than that of the Presbyterians. Although I admit—and I not only admit but I assert—that the creeds of all orthodox Christians are substantially the same, the Presbyterian creed says plainly what it means. There is no hesitation, no evasion. The horrible truth, so-called, is stated in the clearest possible language. One would think after reading this creed, that the men who wrote it not only believed it, but were really glad it was true.

Ideas of justice, of the use of power, of the use of mercy, have greatly changed in the last century. We are beginning dimly to see that each man is the result of an infinite number of conditions, of an infinite number of facts, most of which existed before he was born. We are beginning dimly to see that while reason is a pilot, each soul navigates the mysterious sea filled with tides and unknown currents set in motion by ancestors long since dust. We are beginning to see that defects of mind are transmitted precisely the same as defects of body, and in my judgment the time is coming when we shall not more think of punishing a man for larceny than for having the consumption. We shall know that the thief is a necessary and natural result of conditions, preparing, you may say, the field of the world for the growth of man. We shall no longer depend upon accident and ignorance and providence. We shall depend upon intelligence and science.

The Presbyterian creed is no longer in harmony with the average sense of man. It shocks the average mind. It seems too monstrous to be true; too horrible to find a lodgment in the mind of the civilized man. The Presbyterian minister who thinks, is giving new meanings to the old words. The Presbyterian minister who feels, also gives new meanings to the old words. Only those who neither think nor feel remain orthodox.

For many years the Christian world has been engaged in examining the religions of other peoples, and the Christian scholars have had but little trouble in demonstrating the origin of Mohammedanism and Buddhism and all other isms except ours. After having examined other religions in the light of science, it occurred to some of our theologians to examine their own doctrine in the same way, and the result has been exactly the same in both cases. Dr. Briggs, as I believe, is a man of education. He is undoubtedly familiar with other religions, and has, to some extent at least, made himself familiar with the sacred books of other people. Dr. Briggs knows that no human being knows who wrote a line of the Old Testament. He knows as well as he can know anything, for instance, that Moses never wrote one word of the books attributed to him. He knows that the book of Genesis was made by putting two or three stories together. He also knows that it is not the oldest story, but was borrowed. He knows that in this book of Genesis there is not one word adapted to make a human being better, or to shed the slightest light on human conduct. He knows, if he knows anything, that the Mosaic Code, so-called, was, and is, exceedingly barbarous and not adapted to do justice between man and man, or between nation and nation. He knows that the Jewish people pursued a course adapted to destroy themselves; that they refused to make friends with their neighbors; that they had not the slightest idea of the rights of other people; that they really supposed that the earth was theirs, and that their God was the greatest God in the heavens. He also knows that there are many thousands of mistakes in the Old Testament as translated. He knows that the book of Isaiah is made up of several books. He knows the same thing in regard to the New Testament. He also knows that there were many other books that were once considered sacred that have been thrown away, and that nobody knows who wrote a solitary line of the New Testament.

Besides all this, Dr. Briggs knows that the Old and New Testaments are filled with interpolations, and he knows that the passages of Scripture which have been taken as the foundation stones for creeds, were written hundreds of years after the death of Christ. He knows well enough that Christ never said: "I came not to bring peace, but a sword." He knows that the same being never said: "Thou art Peter, and on this rock will I build my church." He knows, too, that Christ never said: "Whosoever believes shall be saved, and whosoever believes not shall be damned." He knows that these were interpolations. He knows that the sin against the Holy Ghost is another interpolation. He knows, if he knows anything, that the gospel according to John was written long after the rest, and that nearly all of the poison and superstition of orthodoxy is in that book. He knows also, if he knows anything, that St. Paul never read one of the four gospels.

Knowing all these things, Dr. Briggs has had the honesty to say that there was some trouble about taking the Bible as absolutely inspired in word and punctuation. I do not think, however, that he can maintain his own position and still remain a Presbyterian or anything like a Presbyterian. He takes the ground, I believe, that there are three sources of knowledge: First, the Bible; second, the church; third, reason. It seems to me that reason should come first, because if you say the Bible is a source of authority, why do you say it? Do you say this because your reason is convinced that it is? If so, then reason is the foundation of that belief. If, again, you say the church is a source of authority, why do you say so? It must be because its history convinces your reason that it is. Consequently, the foundation of that idea is reason. At the bottom of this pyramid must be reason, and no man is under any obligation to believe that which is unreasonable to him. He may believe things that he cannot prove, but he does not believe them because they are unreasonable. He believes them because he thinks they are not unreasonable, not impossible, not improbable. But, after all, reason is the crucible in which every fact must be placed, and the result fixes the belief of the intelligent man.

It seems to me that the whole Presbyterian creed must come down together. It is a scheme based upon certain facts, so-called. There is in it the fall of man. There is in it the scheme of the atonement, and there is the idea of hell, eternal punishment, and the idea of heaven, eternal reward; and yet, according to their creed, hell is not a punishment and heaven is not a reward. Now, if we do away with the fall of man we do away with the atonement; then we do away with all supernatural religion. Then we come back to human reason. Personally, I hope that the Presbyterian Church will be advanced enough and splendid enough to be honest, and if it is honest, all the gentlemen who amount to anything, who assist in the trial of Dr. Briggs, will in all probability agree with him, and he will be acquitted. But if they throw aside their reason, and remain blindly orthodox, then he will be convicted. To me it is simply miraculous that any man should imagine that the Bible is the source of truth. There was a time when all scientific facts were measured by the Bible. That time is past, and now the believers in the Bible are doing their best to convince us that it is in harmony with science. In other words, I have lived to see a change of standards. When I was a boy, science was measured by the Bible. Now the Bible is measured by science. This is an immense step. So it is impossible for me to conceive what kind of a mind a man has, who finds in the history of the church the fact that it has been a source of truth. How can any one come to the conclusion that the Catholic Church has been a source of truth, a source of intellectual light? How can anyone believe that the church of John Calvin has been a source of truth? If its creed is not true, if its doctrines are mistakes, if its dogmas are monstrous delusions, how can it be said to have been a source of truth?

My opinion is that Dr. Briggs will not be satisfied with the step he has taken. He has turned his face a little toward the light. The farther he walks the harder it will be for him to turn back. The probability is that the orthodox will turn him out, and the process of driving out men of thought and men of genius will go on until the remnant will be as orthodox as they are stupid.

Question. Do you think mankind is drifting away from the supernatural?

Answer. My belief is that the supernatural has had its day. The church must either change or abdicate. That is to say, it must keep step with the progress of the world or be trampled under foot. The church as a power has ceased to exist. To-day it is a matter of infinite indifference what the pulpit thinks unless there comes the voice of heresy from the sacred place. Every orthodox minister in the United States is listened to just in proportion that he preaches heresy. The real, simon-pure, orthodox clergyman delivers his homilies to empty benches, and to a few ancient people who know nothing of the tides and currents of modern thought. The orthodox pulpit to-day has no thought, and the pews are substantially in the same condition. There was a time when the curse of the church whitened the face of a race, but now its anathema is the food of laughter.

Question. What, in your judgment, is to be the outcome of the present agitation in religious circles?

Answer. My idea is that people more and more are declining the postponement of happiness to another world. The general tendency is to enjoy the present. All religions have taught men that the pleasures of this world are of no account; that they are nothing but husks and rags and chaff and disappointment; that whoever expects to be happy in this world makes a mistake; that there is nothing on the earth worth striving for; that the principal business of mankind should be to get ready to be happy in another world; that the great occupation is to save your soul, and when you get it saved, when you are satisfied that you are one of the elect, then pack up all your worldly things in a very small trunk, take it to the dock of time that runs out into the ocean of eternity, sit down on it, and wait for the ship of death. And of course each church is the only one that sells a through ticket which can be depended on. In all religions, as far as I know, is an admixture of asceticism, and the greater the quantity, the more beautiful the religion has been considered, The tendency of the world to- day is to enjoy life while you have it; it is to get something out of the present moment; and we have found that there are things worth living for even in this world. We have found that a man can enjoy himself with wife and children; that he can be happy in the acquisition of knowledge; that he can be very happy in assisting others; in helping those he loves; that there is some joy in poetry, in science and in the enlargement and development of the mind; that there is some delight in music and in the drama and in the arts. We are finding, poor as the world is, that it beats a promise the fulfillment of which is not to take place until after death. The world is also finding out another thing, and that is that the gentlemen who preach these various religions, and promise these rewards, and threaten the punishments, know nothing whatever of the subject; that they are as blindly ignorant as the people they pretend to teach, and the people are as blindly ignorant as the animals below them. We have finally concluded that no human being has the slightest conception of origin or of destiny, and that this life, not only in its commencement but in its end, is just as mysterious to-day as it was to the first man whose eyes greeted the rising sun. We are no nearer the solution of the problem than those who lived thousands of years before us, and we are just as near it as those who will live millions of years after we are dead. So many people having arrived at the conclusion that nobody knows and that nobody can know, like sensible folks they have made up their minds to enjoy life. I have often said, and I say again, that I feel as if I were on a ship not knowing the port from which it sailed, not knowing the harbor to which it was going, not having a speaking acquaintance with any of the officers, and I have made up my mind to have as good a time with the other passengers as possible under the circumstances. If this ship goes down in mid- sea I have at least made something, and if it reaches a harbor of perpetual delight I have lost nothing, and I have had a happy voyage. And I think millions and millions are agreeing with me.

Now, understand, I am not finding fault with any of these religions or with any of these ministers. These religions and these ministers are the necessary and natural products of sufficient causes. Mankind has traveled from barbarism to what we now call civilization, by many paths, all of which under the circumstances, were absolutely necessary; and while I think the individual does as he must, I think the same of the church, of the corporation, and of the nation, and not only of the nation, but of the whole human race. Consequently I have no malice and no prejudices. I have likes and dislikes. I do not blame a gourd for not being a cantaloupe, but I like cantaloupes. So I do not blame the old hard-shell Presbyterian for not being a philosopher, but I like philosophers. So to wind it all up with regard to the tendency of modern thought, or as to the outcome of what you call religion, my own belief is that what is known as religion will disappear from the human mind. And by "religion" I mean the supernatural. By "religion" I mean living in this world for another, or living in this world to gratify some supposed being, whom we never saw and about whom we know nothing, and of whose existence we know nothing. In other words, religion consists of the duties we are supposed to owe to the first great cause, and of certain things necessary for us to do here to insure happiness hereafter. These ideas, in my judgment, are destined to perish, and men will become convinced that all their duties are within their reach, and that obligations can exist only between them and other sentient beings. Another idea, I think, will force itself upon the mind, which is this: That he who lives the best for this world lives the best for another if there be one. In other words, humanity will take the place of what is called "religion." Science will displace superstition, and to do justice will be the ambition of man.

My creed is this: Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so.

Question. What is going to take the place of the pulpit?

Answer. I have for a long time wondered why somebody didn't start a church on a sensible basis. My idea is this: There are, of course, in every community, lawyers, doctors, merchants, and people of all trades and professions who have not the time during the week to pay any particular attention to history, poetry, art, or song. Now, it seems to me that it would be a good thing to have a church and for these men to employ a man of ability, of talent, to preach to them Sundays, and let this man say to his congregation: "Now, I am going to preach to you for the first few Sundays—eight or ten or twenty, we will say—on the art, poetry, and intellectual achievements of the Greeks." Let this man study all the week and tell his congregation Sunday what he has ascertained. Let him give to his people the history of such men as Plato, as Socrates, what they did; of Aristotle, of his philosophy; of the great Greeks, their statesmen, their poets, actors, and sculptors, and let him show the debt that modern civilization owes to these people. Let him, too, give their religions, their mythology—a mythology that has sown the seed of beauty in every land. Then let him take up Rome. Let him show what a wonderful and practical people they were; let him give an idea of their statesmen, orators, poets, lawyers—because probably the Romans were the greatest lawyers. And so let him go through with nation after nation, biography after biography, and at the same time let there be a Sunday school connected with this church where the children shall be taught something of importance. For instance, teach them botany, and when a Sunday is fair, clear, and beautiful, let them go into the fields and woods with their teachers, and in a little while they will become acquainted with all kinds of tress and shrubs and flowering plants. They could also be taught entomology, so that every bug would be interesting, for they would see the facts in science— something of use to them. I believe that such a church and such a Sunday school would at the end of a few years be the most intelligent collection of people in the United States. To teach the children all of these things and to teach their parents, too, the outlines of every science, so that every listener would know something of geology, something of astronomy, so that every member could tell the manner in which they find the distance of a star— how much better that would be than the old talk about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and quotations from Haggai and Zephaniah, and all this eternal talk about the fall of man and the Garden of Eden, and the flood, and the atonement, and the wonders of Revelation! Even if the religious scheme be true, it can be told and understood as well in one day as in a hundred years. The church says, "He that hath ears to hear let him hear." I say: "He that hath brains to think, let him think." So, too, the pulpit is being displaced by what we call places of amusement, which are really places where men go because they find there is something which satisfies in a greater or less degree the hunger of the brain. Never before was the theatre as popular as it is now. Never before was so much money lavished upon the stage as now. Very few men having their choice would go to hear a sermon, especially of the orthodox kind, when they had a chance to see a great actor.

The man must be a curious combination who would prefer an orthodox sermon, we will say, to a concert given by Theodore Thomas. And I may say in passing that I have great respect for Theodore Thomas, because it was he who first of all opened to the American people the golden gates of music. He made the American people acquainted with the great masters, and especially with Wagner, and it is a debt that we shall always owe him. In this day the opera—that is to say, music in every form—is tending to displace the pulpit. The pulpits have to go in partnership with music now. Hundreds of people have excused themselves to me for going to church, saying they have splendid music. Long ago the Catholic Church was forced to go into partnership not only with music, but with painting and with architecture. The Protestant Church for a long time thought it could do without these beggarly elements, and the Protestant Church was simply a dry-goods box with a small steeple on top of it, its walls as bleak and bare and unpromising as the creed. But even Protestants have been forced to hire a choir of ungodly people who happen to have beautiful voices, and they, too, have appealed to the organ. Music is taking the place of creed, and there is more real devotional feeling summoned from the temple of the mind by great music than by any sermon ever delivered. Music, of all other things, gives wings to thought and allows the soul to rise above all the pains and troubles of this life, and to feel for a moment as if it were absolutely free, above all clouds, destined to enjoy forever. So, too, science is beckoning with countless hands. Men of genius are everywhere beckoning men to discoveries, promising them fortunes compared with which Aladdin's lamp was weak and poor. All these things take men from the church; take men from the pulpit. In other words, prosperity is the enemy of the pulpit. When men enjoy life, when they are prosperous here, they are in love with the arts, with the sciences, with everything that gives joy, with everything that promises plenty, and they care nothing about the prophecies of evil that fall from the solemn faces of the parsons. They look in other directions. They are not thinking about the end of the world. They hate the lugubrious, and they enjoy the sunshine of to-day. And this, in my judgment, is the highest philosophy: First, do not regret having lost yesterday; second, do not fear that you will lose to-morrow; third, enjoy to- day.

Astrology was displaced by astronomy. Alchemy and the black art gave way to chemistry. Science is destined to take the place of superstition. In my judgment, the religion of the future will be Reason.

The Tribune, Chicago, Illinois, November, 1891.


Question. What are your opinions on the woman's suffrage question?

Answer. I claim no right that I am not willing to give to my wife and daughters, and to the wives and daughters of other men. We shall never have a generation of great men until we have a generation of great women. I do not regard ignorance as the foundation of virtue, or uselessness as one of the requisites of a lady. I am a believer in equal rights. Those who are amenable to the laws should have a voice in making the laws. In every department where woman has had an equal opportunity with man, she has shown that she has equal capacity.

George Sand was a great writer, George Eliot one of the greatest, Mrs. Browning a marvelous poet—and the lyric beauty of her "Mother and Poet" is greater than anything her husband ever wrote—Harriet Martineau a wonderful woman, and Ouida is probably the greatest living novelist, man or woman. Give the women a chance.

[The Colonel's recent election as a life member of the Manhattan Athletic Club, due strangely enough to a speech of his denouncing certain forms of sport, was referred to, and this led him to express his contempt for prize-fighting, and then he said on the subject of horse-racing: ]

The only objection I have to horse racing is its cruelty. The whip and spur should be banished from the track. As long as these are used, the race track will breed a very low and heartless set of men. I hate to see a brute whip and spur a noble animal. The good people object to racing, because of the betting, but bad people, like myself, object to the cruelty. Men are not forced to bet. That is their own business, but the poor horse, straining every nerve, does not ask for the lash and iron. Abolish torture on the track and let the best horse win.

Question. What do you think of the Chilian insult to the United States flag?

Answer. In the first place, I think that our Government was wrong in taking the part of Balmaceda. In the next place, we made a mistake in seizing the Itata. America should always side with the right. We should care nothing for the pretender in power, and Balmaceda was a cruel, tyrannical scoundrel. We should be with the people everywhere. I do not blame Chili for feeling a little revengeful. We ought to remember that Chili is weak, and nations, like individuals, are sensitive in proportion that they are weak. Let us trust Chili just as we would England. We are too strong to be unjust.

Question. How do you stand on the money question?

Answer. I am with the Republican party on the question of money. I am for the use of gold and silver both, but I want a dollar's worth of silver in a silver dollar. I do not believe in light money, or in cheap money, or in poor money. These are all contradictions in terms. Congress cannot fix the value of money. The most it can do is to fix its debt paying power. It is beyond the power of any Congress to fix the purchasing value of what it may be pleased to call money. Nobody knows, so far as I know, why people want gold. I do not know why people want silver. I do not know how gold came to be money; neither do I understand the universal desire, but it exists, and we take things as we find them. Gold and silver make up, you may say, the money of the world, and I believe in using the two metals. I do not believe in depreciating any American product; but as value cannot be absolutely fixed by law, so far as the purchasing power is concerned, and as the values of gold and silver vary, neither being stable any more than the value of wheat or corn is stable, I believe that legislation should keep pace within a reasonable distance at least, of the varying values, and that the money should be kept as nearly equal as possible. Of course, there is one trouble with money to-day, and that is the use of the word "dollar." It has lost its meaning. So many governments have adulterated their own coin, and as many have changed weights, that the word "dollar" has not to-day an absolute, definite, specific meaning. Like individuals, nations have been dishonest. The only time the papal power had the right to coin money—I believe it was under Pius IX., when Antonelli was his minister—the coin of the papacy was so debased that even orthodox Catholics refused to take it, and it had to be called in and minted by the French Empire, before even the Italians recognized it as money. My own opinion is, that either the dollar must be absolutely defined—it must be the world over so many grains of pure gold, or so many grains of pure silver—or we must have other denominations for our money, as for instance, ounces, or parts of ounces, and the time will come, in my judgment, when there will be a money of the world, the same everywhere; because each coin will contain upon its face the certificate of a government that it contains such a weight—so many grains or so many ounces—of a certain metal. I, for one, want the money of the United States to be as good as that of any other country. I want its gold and silver exactly what they purport to be; and I want the paper issued by the Government to be the same as gold. I want its credit so perfectly established that it will be taken in every part of the habitable globe. I am with the Republican party on the question of money, also on the question of protection, and all I hope is that the people of this country will have sense enough to defend their own interests.

The Inter-Ocean, Chicago, Illinois, October 27, 1891.


Question. What is your opinion of foreign missions?

Answer. In the first place, there seems to be a pretty good opening in this country for missionary work. We have a good many Indians who are not Methodists. I have never known one to be converted. A good many have been killed by Christians, but their souls have not been saved. Maybe the Methodists had better turn their attention to the heathen of our own country. Then we have a good many Mormons who rely on the truth of the Old Testament and follow the example of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It seems to me that the Methodists better convert the Mormons before attacking the tribes of Central Africa. There is plenty of work to be done right here. A few good bishops might be employed for a time in converting Dr. Briggs and Professor Swing, to say nothing of other heretical Presbyterians.

There is no need of going to China to convert the Chinese. There are thousands of them here. In China our missionaries will tell the followers of Confucius about the love and forgiveness of Christians, and when the Chinese come here they are robbed, assaulted, and often murdered. Would it not be a good thing for the Methodists to civilize our own Christians to such a degree that they would not murder a man simply because he belongs to another race and worships other gods?

So, too, I think it would be a good thing for the Methodists to go South and persuade their brethren in that country to treat the colored people with kindness. A few efforts might be made to convert the "White-caps" in Ohio, Indiana and some other States.

My advice to the Methodists is to do what little good they can right here and now. It seems cruel to preach to the heathen a gospel that is dying out even here, and fill their poor minds with the absurd dogmas and cruel creeds that intelligent men have outgrown and thrown away.

Honest commerce will do a thousand times more good than all the missionaries on earth. I do not believe that an intelligent Chinaman or an intelligent Hindoo has ever been or ever will be converted into a Methodist. If Methodism is good we need it here, and if it is not good, do not fool the heathen with it.

The Press, Cleveland, Ohio, November 12, 1891.


[* Col. Robert G. Ingersoll was in Toledo for a few hours yesterday afternoon on railroad business. Whatever Mr. Ingersoll says is always read with interest, for besides the independence of his averments, his ideas are worded in a way that in itself is attractive.

While in the court room talking with some of the officials and others, he was saying that in this world there is rather an unequal distribution of comforts, rewards, and punishments. For himself, he had fared pretty well. He stated that during the thirty years he has been married there have been fifteen to twenty of his relatives under the same roof, but never had there been in his family a death or a night's loss of sleep on account of sickness.

"The Lord has been pretty good to you," suggested Marshall Wade.

"Well, I've been pretty good to him," he answered.]

Question. I have heard people in discussing yourself and your views, express the belief that way down in the depths of your mind you are not altogether a "disbeliever." Are they in any sense correct?

Answer. I am an unbeliever, and I am a believer. I do not believe in the miraculous, the supernatural, or the impossible. I do not believe in the "Mosaic" account of the creation, or in the flood, or the Tower of Babel, or that General Joshua turned back the sun or stopped the earth. I do not believe in the Jonah story, or that God and the Devil troubled poor Job. Neither do I believe in the Mt. Sinai business, and I have my doubts about the broiled quails furnished in the wilderness. Neither do I believe that man is wholly depraved. I have not the least faith in the Eden, snake and apple story. Neither do I believe that God is an eternal jailer; that he is going to be the warden of an everlasting penitentiary in which the most of men are to be eternally tormented. I do not believe that any man can be justly punished or rewarded on account of his belief.

But I do believe in the nobility of human nature. I believe in love and home, and kindness and humanity. I believe in good fellowship and cheerfulness, in making wife and children happy. I believe in good nature, in giving to others all the rights that you claim for yourself. I believe in free thought, in reason, observation and experience. I believe in self-reliance and in expressing your honest thought. I have hope for the whole human race. What will happen to one, will, I hope, happen to all, and that, I hope, will be good. Above all, I believe in Liberty.

The Blade, Toledo, Ohio, January 9, 1892.


Question. What is your idea as to the difference between honest belief, as held by honest religious thinkers, and heterodoxy?

Answer. Of course, I believe that there are thousands of men and women who honestly believe not only in the improbable, not only in the absurd, but in the impossible. Heterodoxy, so-called, occupies the half-way station between superstition and reason. A heretic is one who is still dominated by religion, but in the east of whose mind there is a dawn. He is one who has seen the morning star; he has not entire confidence in the day, and imagines in some way that even the light he sees was born of the night. In the mind of the heretic, darkness and light are mingled, the ties of intellectual kindred bind him to the night, and yet he has enough of the spirit of adventure to look toward the east. Of course, I admit that Christians and heretics are both honest; a real Christian must be honest and a real heretic must be the same. All men must be honest in what they think; but all men are not honest in what they say. In the invisible world of the mind every man is honest. The judgment never was bribed. Speech may be false, but conviction is always honest. So that the difference between honest belief, as shared by honest religious thinkers and heretics, is a difference of intelligence. It is the difference between a ship lashed to the dock, and on making a voyage; it is the difference between twilight and dawn—that is to say, the coming of the sight and the coming of the morning.

Question. Are women becoming freed from the bonds of sectarianism?

Answer. Women are less calculating than men. As a rule they do not occupy the territory of compromise. They are natural extremists. The woman who is not dominated by superstition is apt to be absolutely free, and when a woman has broken the shackles of superstition, she has no apprehension, no fears. She feels that she is on the open sea, and she cares neither for wind nor wave. An emancipated woman never can be re-enslaved. Her heart goes with her opinions, and goes first.

Question. Do you consider that the influence of religion is better than the influence of Liberalism upon society, that is to say, is society less or more moral, is vice more or less conspicuous?

Answer. Whenever a chain is broken an obligation takes its place. There is and there can be no responsibility without liberty. The freer a man is, the more responsible, the more accountable he feels; consequently the more liberty there is, the more morality there is. Believers in religion teach us that God will reward men for good actions, but men who are intellectually free, know that the reward of a good action cannot be given by any power, but that it is the natural result of the good action. The free man, guided by intelligence, knows that his reward is in the nature of things, and not in the caprice even of the Infinite. He is not a good and faithful servant, he is an intelligent free man.

The vicious are ignorant; real morality is the child of intelligence; the free and intelligent man knows that every action must be judged by its consequences; he knows that if he does good he reaps a good harvest; he knows that if he does evil he bears a burden, and he knows that these good and evil consequences are not determined by an infinite master, but that they live in and are produced by the actions themselves.

Evening Advertiser, New York, February 6, 1892.


Question. What is the history of the speech delivered here in 1876? Was it extemporaneous?

Answer. It was not born entirely of the occasion. It took me several years to put the thoughts in form—to paint the pictures with words. No man can do his best on the instant. Iron to be beaten into perfect form has to be heated several times and turned upon the anvil many more, and hammered long and often.

You might as well try to paint a picture with one sweep of the brush, or chisel a statue with one stroke, as to paint many pictures with words, without great thought and care. Now and then, while a man is talking, heated with his subject, a great thought, sudden as a flash of lightning, illumines the intellectual sky, and a great sentence clothed in words of purple, falls, or rather rushes, from his lips—but a continuous flight is born, not only of enthusiasm, but of long and careful thought. A perfect picture requires more details, more lights and shadows, than the mind can grasp at once, or on the instant. Thoughts are not born of chance. They grow and bud and blossom, and bear the fruit of perfect form.

Genius is the soil and climate, but the soil must be cultivated, and the harvest is not instantly after the planting. It takes time and labor to raise and harvest a crop from that field called the brain.

Question. Do you think young men need a college education to get along?

Answer. Probably many useless things are taught in colleges. I think, as a rule, too much time is wasted learning the names of the cards without learning to play a game. I think a young man should be taught something that he can use—something he can sell. After coming from college he should be better equipped to battle with the world—to do something of use. A man may have his brain stuffed with Greek and Latin without being able to fill his stomach with anything of importance. Still, I am in favor of the highest education. I would like to see splendid schools in every State, and then a university, and all scholars passing a certain examination sent to the State university free, and then a United States university, the best in the world, and all graduates of the State universities passing a certain examination sent to the United States university free. We ought to have in this country the best library, the best university, the best school of design in the world; and so I say, more money for the mind.

Question. Was the peculiar conduct of the Rev. Dr. Parkhurst, of New York, justifiable, and do you think that it had a tendency to help morality?

Answer. If Christ had written a decoy letter to the woman to whom he said: "Go and sin no more," and if he had disguised himself and visited her house and had then lodged a complaint against her before the police and testified against her, taking one of his disciples with him, I do not think he would have added to his reputation.

The News, Indianapolis, Indiana, February 18, 1892.


[Colonel Ingersoll was a picturesque figure as he sat in his room at the Gibson House yesterday, while the balmy May breeze blew through the open windows, fluttered the lace curtains and tossed the great Infidel's snowy hair to and fro. The Colonel had come in from New York during the morning and the keen white sunlight of a lovely May day filled his heart with gladness. After breakfast, the man who preaches the doctrine of the Golden Rule and the Gospel of Humanity and the while chaffs the gentlemen of the clerical profession, was in a fine humor. He was busy with cards and callers, but not too busy to admire the vase full of freshly-picked spring flowers that stood on the mantel, and wrestled with clouds of cigar smoke, to see which fragrance should dominate the atmosphere.

To a reporter of The Commercial Gazette, the Colonel spoke freely and interestingly upon a variety of subjects, from personal magnetism in politics to mob rule in Tennessee. He had been interested in Colonel Weir's statement about the lack of gas in Exposition Hall, at the 1876 convention, and when asked if he believed there was any truth in the stories that the gas supply had been manipulated so as to prevent the taking of a ballot after he had placed James G. Blaine in nomination, he replied: ]

All I can say is, that I heard such a story the day after the convention, but I do not know whether or not it is true. I have always believed, that if a vote had been taken that evening, Blaine would have been nominated, possibly not as the effect of my speech, but the night gave time for trafficking, and that is always dangerous in a convention. I believed then that Blaine ought to have been nominated, and that it would have been a very wise thing for the party to have done. That he was not the candidate was due partly to accident and partly to political traffic, but that is one of the bygones, and I believe there is an old saying to the effect that even the gods have no mastery over the past.

Question. Do you think that eloquence is potent in a convention to set aside the practical work of politics and politicians?

Answer. I think that all the eloquence in the world cannot affect a trade if the parties to the contract stand firm, and when people have made a political trade they are not the kind of people to be affected by eloquence. The practical work of the world has very little to do with eloquence. There are a great many thousand stone masons to one sculptor, and houses and walls are not constructed by sculptors, but by masons. The daily wants of the world are supplied by the practical workers, by men of talent, not by men of genius, although in the world of invention, genius has done more, it may be, than the workers themselves. I fancy the machinery now in the world does the work of many hundreds of millions; that there is machinery enough now to do several times the work that could be done by all the men, women and children of the earth. The genius who invented the reaper did more work and will do more work in the harvest field than thousands of millions of men, and the same may be said of the great engines that drive the locomotives and the ships. All these marvelous machines were made by men of genius, but they are not the men who in fact do the work.

[This led the Colonel to pay a brilliant tribute to the great orators of ancient and modern times, the peer of all of them being Cicero. He dissected and defined oratory and eloquence, and explained with picturesque figures, wherein the difference between them lay. As he mentioned the magnetism of public speakers, he was asked as to his opinion of the value of personal magnetism in political life.]

It may be difficult to define what personal magnetism is, but I think it may be defined in this way: You don't always feel like asking a man whom you meet on the street what direction you should take to reach a certain point. You often allow three or four to pass, before you meet one who seems to invite the question. So, too, there are men by whose side you may sit for hours in the cars without venturing a remark as to the weather, and there are others to whom you will commence talking the moment you sit down. There are some men who look as if they would grant a favor, men toward whom you are unconsciously drawn, men who have a real human look, men with whom you seem to be acquainted almost before you speak, and that you really like before you know anything about them. It may be that we are all electric batteries; that we have our positive and our negative poles; it may be that we need some influence that certain others impart, and it may be that certain others have that which we do not need and which we do not want, and the moment you think that, you feel annoyed and hesitate, and uncomfortable, and possibly hateful.

I suppose there is a physical basis for everything. Possibly the best test of real affection between man and woman, or of real friendship between man and woman, is that they can sit side by side, for hours maybe, without speaking, and yet be having a really social time, each feeling that the other knows exactly what they are thinking about. Now, the man you meet and whom you would not hesitate a moment to ask a favor of, is what I call a magnetic man. This magnetism, or whatever it may be, assists in making friends, and of course is a great help to any one who deals with the public. Men like a magnetic man even without knowing him, perhaps simply having seen him. There are other men, whom the moment you shake hands with them, you feel you want no more; you have had enough. A sudden chill runs up the arm the moment your hand touches theirs, and finally reaches the heart; you feel, if you had held that hand a moment longer, an icicle would have formed in the brain. Such people lack personal magnetism. These people now and then thaw out when you get thoroughly acquainted with them, and you find that the ice is all on the outside, and then you come to like them very well, but as a rule first impressions are lasting. Magnetism is what you might call the climate of a man. Some men, and some women, look like a perfect June day, and there are others who, while the look quite smiling, yet you feel that the sky is becoming overcast, and the signs all point to an early storm. There are people who are autumnal—that is to say, generous. They have had their harvest, and have plenty to spare. Others look like the end of an exceedingly hard winter—between the hay and grass, the hay mostly gone and the grass not yet come up. So you will see that I think a great deal of this thing that is called magnetism. As I said, there are good people who are not magnetic, but I do not care to make an Arctic expedition for the purpose of discovering the north pole of their character. I would rather stay with those who make me feel comfortable at the first.

[From personal magnetism to the lynching Saturday morning down at Nashville, Tennessee, was a far cry, but when Colonel Ingersoll was asked what he thought of mob law, whether there was any extenuation, any propriety and moral effect resultant from it, he quickly answered: ]

I do not believe in mob law at any time, among any people. I believe in justice being meted out in accordance with the forms of law. If a community violates that law, why should not the individual? The example is bad. Besides all that, no punishment inflicted by a mob tends to prevent the commission of crime. Horrible punishment hardens the community, and that in itself produces more crime.

There seems to be a sort of fascination in frightful punishments, but, to say the least of it, all these things demoralize the community. In some countries, you know, they whip people for petty offences. The whipping, however, does no good, and on the other hand it does harm; it hardens those who administer the punishment and those who witness it, and it degrades those who receive it. There will be but little charity in the world, and but little progress until men see clearly that there is no chance in the world of conduct any more than in the physical world.

Back of every act and dream and thought and desire and virtue and crime is the efficient cause. If you wish to change mankind, you must change the conditions. There should be no such thing as punishment. We should endeavor to reform men, and those who cannot be reformed should be placed where they cannot injure their fellows. The State should never take revenge any more than the community should form itself into a mob and take revenge. This does harm, not good. The time will come when the world will no more think of sending men to the penitentiary for stealing, as a punishment, that it will for sending a man to the penitentiary because he has consumption. When that time comes, the object will be to reform men; to prevent crime instead of punishing it, and the object then will be to make the conditions such that honest people will be the result, but as long as hundreds of thousands of human beings live in tenements, as long as babes are raised in gutters, as long as competition is so sharp that hundreds of thousands must of necessity be failures, just so long as society gets down on its knees before the great and successful thieves, before the millionaire thieves, just so long will it have to fill the jails and prisons with the little thieves. When the "good time" comes, men will not be judged by the money they have accumulated, but by the uses they make of it. So men will be judged, not according to their intelligence, but by what they are endeavoring to accomplish with their intelligence. In other words, the time will come when character will rise above all. There is a great line in Shakespeare that I have often quoted, and that cannot be quoted too often: "There is no darkness but ignorance." Let the world set itself to work to dissipate this darkness; let us flood the world with intellectual light. This cannot be accomplished by mobs or lynchers. It must be done by the noblest, by the greatest, and by the best.

[The conversation shifting around to the Sunday question; the opening of the World's Fair on Sunday, the attacks of the pulpit upon the Sunday newspapers, the opening of parks and museums and libraries on Sunday, Colonel Ingersoll waxed eloquent, and in answer to many questions uttered these paragraphs: ]

Of course, people will think that I have some prejudice against the parsons, but really I think the newspaper press is of far more importance in the world than the pulpit. If I should admit in a kind of burst of generosity, and simply for the sake of making a point, that the pulpit can do some good, how much can it do without the aid of the press? Here is a parson preaching to a few ladies and enough men, it may be, to pass the contribution box, and all he says dies within the four walls of that church. How many ministers would it take to reform the world, provided I again admit in a burst of generosity, that there is any reforming power in what they preach, working along that line?

The Sunday newspaper, I think, is the best of any day in the week. That paper keeps hundreds and thousands at home. You can find in it information about almost everything in the world. One of the great Sunday papers will keep a family busy reading almost all day. Now, I do not wonder that the ministers are so opposed to the Sunday newspaper, and so they are opposed to anything calculated to decrease the attendance at church. Why, they want all the parks, all the museums, all the libraries closed on Sunday, and they want the World's Fair closed on Sunday.

Now, I am in favor of Sunday; in fact, I am perfectly willing to have two of them a week, but I want Sunday as a day of recreation and pleasure. The fact is we ought not to work hard enough during the week to require a day of rest. Every day ought to be so arranged that there would be time for rest from the labor of that day. Sunday is a good day to get business out of your mind, to forget the ledger and the docket and the ticker, to forget profits and losses, and enjoy yourself. It is a good day to go to the art museums, to look at pictures and statues and beautiful things, so that you may feel that there is something in this world besides money and mud. It is a good day, is Sunday, to go to the libraries and spend a little time with the great and splendid dead, and to go to the cemetery and think of those who are sleeping there, and to give a little thought to the time when you, too, like them, will fall asleep. I think it is a good day for almost anything except going to church. There is no need of that; everybody knows the story, and if a man has worked hard all the week, you can hardly call it recreation if he goes to church Sunday and hears that his chances are ninety-nine in a hundred in favor of being eternally damned.

So it is I am in favor of having the World's Fair open on Sunday. It will be a good day to look at the best the world has produced; a good day to leave the saloons and commune for a little while with the mighty spirits that have glorified this world. Sunday is a good day to leave the churches, where they teach that man has become totally depraved, and look at the glorious things that have been wrought by these depraved beings. Besides all this, it is the day of days for the working man and working woman, for those who have to work all the week. In New York an attempt was made to open the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Sunday, and the pious people opposed it. They thought it would interfere with the joy of heaven if people were seen in the park enjoying themselves on Sunday, and they also held that nobody would visit the Museum if it were opened on Sunday; that the "common people" had no love for pictures and statues and cared nothing about art. The doors were opened, and it was demonstrated that the poor people, the toilers and workers, did want to see such things on Sunday, and now more people visit the Museum on Sunday than on all the other days of the week put together. The same is true of the public libraries. There is something to me infinitely pharisaical, hypocritical and farcical in this Sunday nonsense. The rich people who favor keeping Sunday "holy," have their coachman drive them to church and wait outside until the services end. What do they care about the coachman's soul? While they are at church their cooks are busy at home getting dinner ready. What do they care for the souls of cooks? The whole thing is pretence, and nothing but pretence. It is the instinct of business. It is the competition of the gospel shop with other shops and places of resort.

The ministers, of course, are opposed to all shows except their own, for they know that very few will come to see or hear them and the choice must be the church or nothing.

I do not believe that one day can be more holy than another unless more joyous than another. The holiest day is the happiest day— the day on which wives and children and men are happiest. In that sense a day can be holy.

Our idea of the Sabbath is from the Puritans, and they imagined that a man has to be miserable in order to excite the love of God. We have outgrown the old New England Sabbath—the old Scotch horror. The Germans have helped us and have set a splendid example. I do not see how a poor workingman can go to church for recreation—I mean an orthodox church. A man who has hell here cannot be benefitted by being assured that he is likely to have hell hereafter. The whole business I hold in perfect abhorrence.

They tell us that God will not prosper us unless we observe the Sabbath. The Jews kept the Sabbath and yet Jehovah deserted them, and they are a people without a nation. The Scotch kept Sunday; they are not independent. The French never kept Sunday, and yet they are the most prosperous nation in Europe.

Commercial Gazette, Cincinnati, Ohio, May 2, 1892.


Question. Who, in your opinion, is the greatest novelist who has written in the English language?

Answer. The greatest novelist, in my opinion, who has ever written in the English language, was Charles Dickens. He was the greatest observer since Shakespeare. He had the eyes that see, the ears that really hear. I place him above Thackeray. Dickens wrote for the home, for the great public. Thackeray wrote for the clubs. The greatest novel in our language—and it may be in any other—is, according to my ideas, "A Tale of Two Cities." In that, are philosophy, pathos, self-sacrifice, wit, humor, the grotesque and the tragic. I think it is the most artistic novel that I have read. The creations of Dickens' brain have become the citizens of the world.

Question. What is your opinion of American writers?

Answer. I think Emerson was a fine writer, and he did this world a great deal of good, but I do not class him with the first. Some of his poetry is wonderfully good and in it are some of the deepest and most beautiful lines. I think he was a poet rather than a philosopher. His doctrine of compensation would be delightful if it had the facts to support it.

Of course, Hawthorne was a great writer. His style is a little monotonous, but the matter is good. "The Marble Faun" is by far his best effort. I shall always regret that Hawthorne wrote the life of Franklin Pierce.

Walt Whitman will hold a high place among American writers. His poem on the death of Lincoln, entitled "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd," is the greatest ever written on this continent. He was a natural poet and wrote lines worthy of America. He was the poet of democracy and individuality, and of liberty. He was worthy of the great Republic.

Question. What about Henry George's books?

Answer. Henry George wrote a wonderful book and one that arrested the attention of the world—one of the greatest books of the century. While I do not believe in his destructive theories, I gladly pay a tribute to his sincerity and his genius.

Question. What do you think of Bellamy?

Answer. I do not think what is called nationalism of the Bellamy kind is making any particular progress in this country. We are believers in individual independence, and will be, I hope, forever.

Boston was at one time the literary center of the country, but the best writers are not living here now. The best novelists of our country are not far from Boston. Edgar Fawcett lives in New York. Howells was born, I believe, in Ohio, and Julian Hawthorne lives in New Jersey or in Long Island. Among the poets, James Whitcomb Riley is a native of Indiana, and he has written some of the daintiest and sweetest things in American literature. Edgar Fawcett is a great poet. His "Magic Flower" is as beautiful as anything Tennyson has ever written. Eugene Field of Chicago, has written some charming things, natural and touching.

Westward the star of literature takes its course.

The Star, Kansas City, Mo., May 26, 1892.


[* Published from notes found among Colonel Ingersoll's papers, evidently written soon after the discovery of the "Keeley Cure."]

Question. Do you consider inebriety a disease, or the result of diseased conditions?

Answer. I believe that by a long and continuous use of stimulants, the system gets in such a condition that it imperatively demands not only the usual, but an increased stimulant. After a time, every nerve becomes hungry, and there is in the body of the man a cry, coming from every nerve, for nourishment. There is a kind of famine, and unless the want is supplied, insanity is the result. This hunger of the nerves drowns the voice of reason—cares nothing for argument—nothing for experience—nothing for the sufferings of others—nothing for anything, except for the food it requires. Words are wasted, advice is of no possible use, argument is like reasoning with the dead. The man has lost the control of his will —it has been won over to the side of the nerves. He imagines that if the nerves are once satisfied he can then resume the control of himself. Of course, this is a mistake, and the more the nerves are satisfied, the more imperative is their demand. Arguments are not of the slightest force. The knowledge—the conviction—that the course pursued is wrong, has no effect. The man is in the grasp of appetite. He is like a ship at the mercy of wind and wave and tide. The fact that the needle of the compass points to the north has no effect—the compass is not a force—it cannot battle with the wind and tide—and so, in spite of the fact that the needle points to the north, the ship is stranded on the rocks.

So the fact that the man knows that he should not drink has not the slightest effect upon him. The sophistry of passion outweighs all that reason can urge. In other words, the man is the victim of disease, and until the disease is arrested, his will is not his own. He may wish to reform, but wish is not will. He knows all of the arguments in favor of temperance—he knows all about the distress of wife and child—all about the loss of reputation and character—all about the chasm toward which he is drifting—and yet, not being the master of himself, he goes with the tide.

For thousands of years society has sought to do away with inebriety by argument, by example, by law; and yet millions and millions have been carried away and countless thousands have become victims of alcohol. In this contest words have always been worthless, for the reason that no argument can benefit a man who has lost control of himself.

Question. As a lawyer, will you express an opinion as to the moral and legal responsibility of a victim of alcoholism?

Answer. Personally, I regard the moral and legal responsibility of all persons as being exactly the same. All persons do as they must. If you wish to change the conduct of an individual you must change his conditions—otherwise his actions will remain the same.

We are beginning to find that there is no effect without a cause, and that the conduct of individuals is not an exception to this law. Every hope, every fear, every dream, every virtue, every crime, has behind it an efficient cause. Men do neither right nor wrong by chance. In the world of fact and in the world of conduct, as well as in the world of imagination, there is no room, no place, for chance.

Question. In the case of an inebriate who has committed a crime, what do you think of the common judicial opinion that such a criminal is as deserving of punishment as a person not inebriated?

Answer. I see no difference. Believing as I do that all persons act as they must, it makes not the slightest difference whether the person so acting is what we call inebriated, or sane, or insane —he acts as he must.

There should be no such thing as punishment. Society should protect itself by such means as intelligence and humanity may suggest, but the idea of punishment is barbarous. No man ever was, no man ever will be, made better by punishment.