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232 page printout. Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship. This disk, its printout, or copies of either are to be copied and given away, but NOT sold. This computerized book may be used for serious research as the line brakes, paragraphs, page brakes and page numbers in the text of this copy correspond to the original book, except for the header page, dedications, copyright page etc. that are separated by stars -- **** **** -- to conserve paper in printouts. Fine Print -- always takes away what the big print gives. Therefore we assume no responsibility for errors, omissions, goofs, etc. that may have crept in in spite of the careful manner we do our work. Also, in electronic files, the files may be corrupted by anyone whose hands they pass through. Entered into computer format 1994 by Bank of Wisdom, Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 **** **** FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT BEING THE STORY OF THE TRUTH SEEKER, WITH THE NATURAL HISTORY OF ITS THIRD EDITOR BY GEORGE E. MACDONALD VOLUME I Parts First and Second NEW YORK The Truth Seeker Company 1929 **** **** Copyrighted by George E. Macdonald, 1929. Printed in the U.S.A. **** **** To the Readers of The Truth Seeker **** **** Not adventitious therefore will the wise man regard the faith which is in him. The highest truth he sees he will fearlessly utter; knowing that, let what may come of it, he is thus playing his right part in the world. ... -- Herbert Spencer (First Principles, Par. 34). PREFACE THIS is the book of George Macdonald, hand, head and heart. It tells of his life and ac- tivities, first as a farm boy, later as a la- borer in the vineyard of Freethought. For up- wards of fifty years he has been a part of that movement, at once the oldest and the newest, which seeks to make clear the truth that the melioration of man's condition -- progress of any kind, in any degree -- lies in reliance upon his own powers of reason and initiative, and in nowise upon dispensation and authority. George E. Macdonald's own life peculiarly ex- emplifies this. Scarcely anybody ever gave him anything, except an opportunity to work. From his earliest years there has always been some- thing for George to do. How well he has done it shows in the vigorous survival of the paper upon which he has been engaged for half a cen- tury, a period during which journals of opinion have fallen leaf-like in shriveled hosts. The Truth Seeker, like its editor, is hale and hearty. Subscribers stoutly and repeatedly as- sure the one that the other is "better than ever." This, perhaps, is what accounts for the slight flush always to be found upon his cheeks and which beams forth again as the rays of a genial sun. The humor of The Truth Seeker is pro- verbial and has as much to do with its popularity as its more solid qualities. The chapters which follow appeared serially in The Truth Seeker during 1928 and 1929. The iv PREFACE paper's files for fifty years back record the his- tory of Freethought in detail, a moving pageant in which its three editors take active and promi- nent parts. The present editor's life is so inex- tricably bound up with this journal's history as not to be separated from it without damage to the account. This circumstance only has moved him to include in the story of The Truth Seeker somewhat of him hitherto known as "We." This work is intended to afford a reliable survey of the Rationalist movement in the United States for fifty years onward from 1875. That was the author's chief purpose in under- taking it. Its production has occupied all of the editor's spare time for nearly two years. For foundation he applied himself to the rereading of the fifty-five bound volumes of The Truth Seeker, light calisthenics for a man in his eighth decade. An equally valuable repository has been his mortmain memory, unassisted by diary or notes. A considerable correspondence, carried on without secretarial aid, was a third source. The subsigned, privileged to be his amanuensis in the preparation of the book, can certify that into it went enthusiasm and application, both unflagging, in equal parts. B.R. PART FIRST THE MINORITY OF ONE **** **** CONTENTS CHAPTER I -- Sullivan, N.H. -- A Soldier's Son -- Quaker and Scriptural Antecedents -- My Mother -- A Recruit for Lincoln ............................... 11 CHAPTER II -- Surry -- Echoes from the Schoolroom -- Girl Invaders -- My Life's One Scandal .............. 27 CHAPTER III -- My Uncle Clem -- Books and Min- strelsy -- I Go Out to Work -- A Woman of Simple Speech -- Surry South End ........................... 46 CHAPTER IV -- The Traveler's Ghost -- Moving On -- I Am Oppressed -- East Westmoreland -- Pat Advises Me About Churches ................................... 65 CHAPTER V -- The Deacon and I -- Albert Chicker- ing -- Remarks on Bundling -- Brother of the Ox -- My Station Rises ....................................... 83 CHAPTER VI -- The Girl Intrudes -- Rural New Hamp- shire -- The Puritans -- "New Morals for Old" -- Lan- guage -- Christmas Not Observed ..................... 105 CHAPTER VII -- I Take Leave of the Invisibles -- How I Came to New York -- The Truth Seeker and D.M. Bennett ....................................... 131 CHAPTER VIII -- Amongst the Idealists -- An Adven- ture of Which I Am the Mid-Victorian Hero -- Milady Agatha -- Through with Women .............. 150 CHAPTER IX -- Bennett's Wealth of Words --I First Behold Ingersoll -- The Paine Habit Formed -- Grant's Message to Congress ................................. 167 CHATTER X -- Life in The Truth Seeker Office -- Arrest Comes to Mr. Bennett -- Doris -- Through with Women -- Friends .................................... 185 CHAPTER XI -- Guests at 308 Third Avenue -- Hilda -- Catholic and Freethinking Girls -- Anyhow, I Was Through with Women -- The Bennett Prosecutions -- Split in the Liberal League -- Who Was Who in 1878? . 206 CHAPTER XII -- The jailing of D.M. Bennett -- In Albany Penitentiary -- What the Cat Brought In -- "New England and the People Up There" ............... 243 CHAPTER XIII -- Organizing a Political Party -- State Gatherings -- Bennett Liberated -- The Character of A. Comstock ............................................ 264 CHAPTER XIV -- Putnam Coming Forward -- The In- spired Assassin of Garfield -- I Join the Nonpareils. 292 CHAPTER XV -- Religions on Trial with Guiteau -- Ingersoll's Memorial Day Address -- Herndon and Lin- coln -- Bennett Around the World and Home -- Death and a Monument ...................................... 306 CHAPTER XVI -- I Am Assistant Editor -- Man with the Badgepin -- Monsignor Capel -- The Truth Seeker Company ............................................. 332 CHAPTER XVII -- Life in Third Avenue -- Spiritual- ists as Secularists -- Chainey Converted -- Blaine and Burchard ............................................ 352 CHAPTER XVIII -- Giordano Bruno -- Feminists -- Amrita Lal Roy -- The Dynamiters -- Death Among the Veterans -- I Interview Ingersoll -- The Haymarket Bomb -- Henry George's Canvass ...................... 371 CHAPTER XIX -- Economic and Labor Situation -- Dr. McGlynn -- Liberal, Mo. -- The Lucifer Match -- Death of S.P. Andrews ..................................... 393 CHAPTER XX -- Lecturers in the Field -- Chicago An- archists Hanged -- Reynolds Blasphemy Trial -- Mrs. Slenker's Arrest -- A "Globe" Story ................. 415 CHAPTER XXI -- San Francisco -- A Historic Printing Office -- Getting Married -- Death of Courtland Pal- mer -- A Temblor ................................... 435 CHAPTER XXII -- San Francisco Continued -- Organi- zation and Lectures -- Advent of Bellamy -- Topolo- bampo -- Death of Horace Seaver ..................... 470 CHAPTER XXIII -- Local Meetings -- Observations on the State -- Henry Replogle -- A Lick Incident -- The Chinese Press -- Prophecies of Disaster -- An Infant Son ................................................. 496 CHAPTER XXIV -- Putnam in Sacramento -- Jaums Barry of The Star -- Deaths: Bradlaugh, James Par- ton, J.R. Monroe -- Freethought Suspends ............ 524 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT CHAPTER I. 1 -- I APPEAR. WITH the consent of the reader, my story shall begin where and when I did, which was in Gardiner, Maine, April 11, 1857. It was the year they discovered the Neanderthal @@@@ (line drawing, baby and Neanderthal) (caption) CONTEMPORARIES man. My father, (Patrick) Henry Macdonald (b. Oct. 14, 1825), was known to all his acquaintances and to the check-list as Henry, since early in life he had dropped the Patrick -- though remembering 12 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT "Give me liberty or give me death" -- as calculated to furnish a wrong clue to his ancestry, which was Scotch, and to his religion, which was not Catho- lic. As to personality, his comrades in war and other scrapes told me that although not a big man, he was "able"; that, in fact, few men of his inches, unless "scienced," had any business to stand before him. Through this heredity, I early became seized of a deep respect for ability and science. A mechanic and millwright was Henry, and when I first learned to recognize him he was running a sawmill for Lanmon Nims on a small stream in East Sullivan, N.H., where he had lately come, with his wife and two boys, from Maine. Sullivan is among the least of towns, difficult to find or to recognize as a town when discovered; but she has a mighty history -- on paper. One of her sons, the Rev. Josiah Lafayette Seward, D.D., wrote that history in two weighty volumes compris- ing 1619 octave pages, capacious enough to con- tain a fair history of the civilized world ancient and modern. Everybody who lived in Sullivan from 1777 to 1917 is named in those tomes. My father, a resident of Sullivan at the breaking out of the Civil War, enlisting in Company E. 6th regiment, the New Hampshire volunteers, moved to Keene, the county seat, for convenience to the fair grounds where the troops were drilled. He went to the front in December, 1861, and fell in the second battle of Bull Run the following August. I possess as relics of him a leather wallet with a strap that goes all the way around it, and through loops; a letter (un- dated) in a fair round hand, sent from the front to FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 13 my brother, in which "we" is consistently spelled with two e's; and a glazed earthenware container of liquids made in the shape of a book but with a mouth and stopper (for the bottle was contraband in Maine as early as 1850). I have put a book label on it and marked it a best seller. (In his spelling of "wee" he merely may have been old-fashioned. His fathers spelled it that way before him.) I know little else about my father, except that his mother's name was Rebecca. My brother once met that old lady, whom I suppose to have been Scotch, and re- ported her speech to be so different from any he had ever heard that he could hardly understand her. He called the peculiarity of accent a "brogue"; it was probably a "burr." The name Macdonald was pronounced in our family as though the first syl- lable were spelled muck and the second one dough. The war records have it that Henry was a native of Palermo, Me., and that his father is unknown. 2 -- A SOLDIER'S LETTER. In 1887, when I took a vacation in New Hamp- shire, my cousin's wife, Addie Chickering Clement, handed me a letter, found among his father's papers, which she thought I should have if it interested me. Thus the writing ran: "An account of the death of Henry Macdonald, who enlisted in Company E, 6th Regiment, New Hampshire Volunteers, and fell at the second Battle of Bull Run (Vir- ginia), August the 28th, 1862, in the War of the Great Rebellion. He was 36 years of age, having been born October the 14th, 1825. "By a Comrade. "FRIEND CLEMENT: You have probably heard various 14 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT accounts of our battle in the woods, where we suffered so severely; so I will attempt no description except of Mac donald's death. I was by his side; or, rather, we were facing each other, he with his left side to the enemy. We had fired, and were loading. We had reserved our fire somewhat, trying to see a good mark to sight. He fired first. After firing I stepped back close to him, He said, 'Did you see him?' I answered, 'Yes.' Said he, 'So did I.' The words were scarcely spoken, when Almon Nut- ting, who was forward, was struck on the head by a ball, inflicting a serious wound. At the same instant Mac- donald was hit just forward of the top of the ear, the ball passing squarely through the head, and coming out on the other side at the spot opposite. He fell on his back, his eyes set. He did not speak or recognize me. The wound bled very fast. He suffered none, and passed away feel- ing not the pains of death, nor its fears. He was as cool, and spoke as calmly, as though we had been shooting squirrels. I think it was the ball which wounded Nutting that killed him, as both were struck at the same moment. "After speaking to Nutting, I was obliged to leave, the regiment having moved forward and left us behind. I had no time to save Macdonald's money, or the clothing upon him. Indeed, the chance of my coming out myself was so small I did not think to do it. When we re- turned, it was by a different route, and on the double- quick, so he fell into the hands of the enemy, who were careful to carry away everything except the clothes. The shoes they took, if good. He was probably buried by our men, who went back for that purpose with a flag of truce. There will be no means of identifying the spot. His knap- sack, with contents, was left behind. H. TOWNE." The letter, which bore no date, appears to have been written soon after the "battle in the woods" (second Bull Run), August 28-29, 1862. The writer was Hosea Towne, afterwards appointed postmaster at Marlow, N.H. FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 15 This my father's picture is drawn from a painting @@@@ executed about 1880 by (a line drawing Madam Gherardi, sister of of a Civil War the admiral of that name. soldier along It was done out of her af- the full length fection for soldiers. For side of this page) "Copy" Madam Gherardi had an 1861 tintype, now lost; and tintypes are like a reflection in a mirror, an offset, which faces the sub- ject the other way. That is why this soldier is shown in an improper position for one standing at parade-rest, with his right hand next the muzzle of his piece and the right foot advanced. He was of that whisk- ered generation raised up before the Civil War and enduring so long after its close that we discover facial foliage on the earlier pro- fessional baseball players. Gradual modification by way of chin shaving, leav- ing only side-whiskers and moustache, produced the clean-shaven soldier of the World war. 16 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 3 -- "THE UNRETURNING BRAVE." Sullivan's memorial to her "unreturning brave," as described in a pamphlet "printed at the New Hamp- shire Sentinel Job Office, 1867," is "of the best Ital- ian marble, and is very beautiful in design and @@@@ finish. It stands near the (a line drawing meeting-house, on a spot of the monument fitted up with much labor is along the full and expense. The mound length of this side on which it stands is ele- of the page) vated eight feet above the level of the common, and the monument rises fifteen feet above the mound. The base is a three and a half feet square." The name of Henry Mac- donald, spelled McDonald, is at the top of the list on the front of the shaft. He may, then, have been the first of the unreturning brave of the Civil War whose name was thus pre- served on a town monu- ment. The history of Sullivan in the Chesire County Ga- zetteer, 1736-1885, says of FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 17 its soldiers who died: "All were honest, respectable, industrious, and reliable young men. There was no exception to this statement." Father lived only half the span the Bible allots to man, while I have been living on borrowed time ever since I began this history of the True Macdonald. But he missed the worse half, for one accumulates his pleasant memories in his first thirty-six years and regrets them in the next three or four decades. When an old man is heard talking to himself, he is muttering maledictions on remembered follies which be com- mitted before he was thirty-six. An enfeebled mem- ory allows him to forget the later ones. The people of the town of Sullivan were uncom- monly worked up over the war. They hanged in effigy a local "Copperhead," a poisonous sympathizer with the South and the institution of slavery: my mother writing his sentence, found pinned to the figure, judicially imposing the extreme penalty. The residents of this hamlet are said to have preceded all others in moving to erect a soldiers' monument. 4 -- HURRAH, AND GOODBY. The Sixth New Hampshire regiment entrained for the front at Keene, December 25, 1861. I was at the depot to see the men file aboard and the train go out. In his blue overcoat with a cape to it, father looked the ideal soldier. Twenty-eight years had passed when I contributed the following to Memorial Day verse: I see them bringing their flowers today To the spot where the heroes sleep, 18 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT And I think of an unmarked soldier's grave Where Virginia's breezes sweep. And I wonder if someone plucks a flower By the rivulet of Bull Run, And lays it above the dust of him Who made me a soldier's son. The days that are gone I live once more As I close my eyes and think, And the chain of memory stretches back And I follow it link by link. And spanning eight and a score of years I return to a Christmas day When the streets are filled with marching men, And the air with their banners gay. But I have sight that sees but one, A man with a bearded face And a kindly eye and a stalwart tread, Who walks in a forward place. I watch the train move out of town, With its smoke and its clanging bell, And the smoke takes form of clouds of war, And the clang is a funeral knell. He wore the blue as a soldier should, Was tender and true and brave: He gave his life for a nation's life, And his pay was a soldier's grave. A random shot, and above his corpse Sweeps forward the battle's tide; And when the stars shine out that night They bury him where he died. So I watch them strewing their flowers today On the spot where the heroes sleep, And I think of an unmarked soldier's grave Where Virginia's willows weep. FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 19 And I wonder if someone plucks a flower By the rivulet of Bull Run, And drops it above the dust of him Who made me a soldier's son. The verses have been heard in Sons of Veterans camps. When they had been written twenty years, I discovered that Capt. George Clymer of Glen Ridge, N.J., Grand Army Instructor in Patriotism, recited them to pupils in the public schools that he visited. 5 -- QUAKER AND SCRIPTURAL ANTECEDENTS. My mother was born in Unity, Maine, in June, 1830, the daughter of Esther Chase and Stephen Hussey, who named her Asenath. There were enough biblical names in my ancestry -- Rebecca, Esther, Asenath, and Stephen -- to produce a prophet. The Chases were Quakers. I was but five years old when, being taken down to Maine by my mother on a visit to her relatives in Unity, I attended a Quaker meeting and spent a week in the family of her Quaker cousin, Uncle John Chase. This short period was so dreary that I have been under the depression of it ever since. There is a certain risk in publishing the fact that one is a Chase by ancestry. Somebody is sure to offer you a book for a dollar containing your genealogy. The Macdonald family can be traced, through Scott's Tales of a Grandfather, to a gang of Highland cattle-thieves, who were all but ex- terminated by outraged neighbors whom they had 20 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT plundered. In that direction "mine ancient but ignoble blood hath run through scoundrels since the flood," but the Chases are all respectable, being elders or ministers or Quakers. The Husseys I suspect of being Puritans. Three brothers of them, from England, came to New England among the early arrivals. They were Stephen, Batchelder, and Sylvanus. Each of them made a practice of naming his sons after their uncles, and the three names came down to the last generation. I had an uncle Batchelder, and an uncle Sylvanus, a cousin Syl- vanus, and a cousin Stephen. Passing through the town of Houlton, Maine, forty years ago, I saw the name of Hussey everywhere -- on the signboards of doctors, lawyers, merchants, and -- I did not ex- amine the police record for the other class. My parents bestowed upon me the name of George Everett Hussey -- George for Washington, Everett for Edward Everett, and Hussey as a matter of course. I dropped the third one out at an early age, but the Testament I won by learning many verses of the seventh of Matthew has on its fly-leaf this inscription: "Presented to George E.H. Mac- donald by his Sabbath School Teacher, Keene, N. H., Jan. 21st, 1863." George E.H. sounds plebeian alongside my brother's name, which was Eugene Montague. I lower a hook into the well of memory to catch that teacher's name. It brings up "Miss Dunbar." If there is an old resident of Keene who ever went to Sunday school he may be able to cor- rect or confirm my guess. Yet more likely that old-timer, when found, will say there used to be a man named Dunbar that owned a horse he thought FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 21 could trot. And drove him onto the track at the fair grounds hitched to a sulky, and got run into and dished a wheel. Deaf man, he was; couldn't hear a dam' sound. His daughter maybe. 6 -- THE SMART ONE OF THE FAMILY. Asenath, my mother, coming at about the middle of ten or eleven children, was the only one of them who ever entertained "views." At thirteen she was teaching a school that had an algebra class in it, and on her way to her daily task waded through deep snow minus leg-garments worn by girls of a later day but now discarded largely, I perceive, as individual entities. She afterwards left home to learn a trade, that of stitching men's coats. The death of Henry, after their few years of married life, found her working in a peg-shop, making pegs for shoes, in Keene, N.H., and supporting two boys, 7 and 5 years of age. Our family doctor was named Twichell. On an occasion when an elderly woman patient (say Mrs. Carter) wanted a nurse, Dr. Twichell recommended mother. She proved so competent that the doctor advised her to prepare herself for nursing as a profession. There was then an advanced medical practitioner and reformer, named Dio Lewis, conducting a training school for nurses in Massachusetts, to whom she was recom- mended. Dio Lewis dressed his pupils in "gym" clothes and gave them physical training; and I re- member that when my mother, home on a vacation, told my aunt, with whom we were living, about this innovation in women's dress, my aunt replied that 22 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT the less said about it the better, especially in the presence of her daughter Ella, who was but 15 and wore skirts down to her instep. I have no likeness of mother. The last time I was in New Hampshire I asked this niece, Mrs. Ella Clement Priest, if there was any picture of her in the family. She replied: "No; I don't believe Aunt 'Sene ever kept still long enough to have one taken." As a trained nurse, and one of the first of that profession, Asenath commanded a wage larger than local patients would pay. She therefore looked abroad. She became nurse and companion to Mrs. Bierstadt, wife of the artist whose great picture of the Rocky Mountains won fame in those days. I received letters from her afterwards written on the stationery of the yacht Resolute, belonging to Banker Hatch, with a summer home at Navesink. Mrs. Hatch was her patient. Because I heard few other names, and little of anything else at that period, I am able to remember those of her em- ployers, Minturn, Wingate, and so on. Her pay was good and employment steady, so that with her widow's pension, and something extra on account of children, the problem of maintenance for her boys was solved. She also contributed to the sup- port of her sister's family and helped them buy the farm. As one of the earliest trained and profes- sional nurses, she was in at the close of the era when persons in moderate circumstances could be sick within their means. On my return to Keene, late in 1864, from a FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 23 stay with an uncle in Maine, who, having no boy of his own, proposed to adopt me and take me with him into the Aroostook (to which mother would not consent), we lived with this same sister's family a mile out of the town of Keene, on Marlborough street. Here I first began to understand what I heard my elders read from the newspapers. We took The Banner of Light, a Spiritualist paper that by a coincidence began publication in Boston on the day I was born, its first number being dated April 11, 1857. I have long survived my journal- istic twin. Mother and aunt read it aloud by turns, and I lay in bed and heard them. In spite of Spir- itualism in the family, the children went to the Uni- tarian Sunday school in Keene. The minister of this church, on the east side of Main street, was known as Priest White. The orthodox church stood at the head of the square. They called its minister Parson Barstow. 7 -- A RECRUIT FOR LINCOLN. Among the things the child of 5 or 6 does not comprehend is the fact of death. Accustomed to the absence of my father from the house during his ten hours a day as a mechanic, I had learned not to miss his presence. I now supposed he was just away. The tale of his death meant nothing to me, although I had seen my mother's burst of weeping, her head falling on her crossed aims at the bench where she worked in the peg-shop, when I accompanied the bearer to her of the news that father had fallen in battle. So, persuaded that he must be somewhere, 24 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT and that people were mistaken in saying I should not see him again, day after day I watched the road, which I could command for some distance each way, and all the men who passed underwent inspec- tion. This house on Marlborough street, where we lived with my mother's sister Louisa, who had mar- ried Benjamin Franklin Clement of Montville, Maine, was later made over and occupied by Frank Cole, son of a neighbor -- a baby when we moved away. We were there in the fall of 1864, and in the Lincoln canvass of that year I fought the Irish, who were trying to make the world safe for democ- racy by campaigning for McClellan. Surely they were time of terror for a non-pugnacious Lincoln boy. In those precincts he met the Irish boys in small gangs and was interrogated: "Be you an Irish feller?" "Be you for McClellan?" No. The fight opened with aggressions on the part of the gang. One with a snub nose not readily caused to bleed, and with an underpinning patterned after the fore- legs of an ox, for such was I, endured long with- out being put out or overthrown; and he was fired with a mighty cause. The reelection of Lincoln caused a general belief to pass from parents to children that the country was saved. Months later, when the news of his assassination reached my aunt, I saw the color leave her face. She gasped "What will become of us?" as though we had been passengers on a ship with a mutinous element in the crew, the captain overboard, and no one left who understood navigation. FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 25 8 -- BACK TO THE LAND. While we were in the Marlborough street house my uncle Clement came back from the war. Thence in the fall of 1865 we moved to a farm in Surry, which I was to think of when homesick for the next ensuing ten years. And those ten years are @@@@ (a line drawing of a house and yard) crowded with so many distinct memories they seem to cover the principal part of my life. The days were interminably long. Our family must have been classed as poor, though we never were needy, and together the breadwinners had purchased an equity in the house that they now traded for the farm. The war had made living expensive -- butter fifty cents a pound, flour ten dollars a barrel. Women wore "print," or calico, and men wore shoddy. I heard my aunt murmur: 26 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT "Butter and cheese is fifty cents a pound, An' everything else is accordin', Before next spring we'll all be on the town Or landed on the other side of Jordan." We came upon the farm late in the fall. There was no fruit to pick, and butter was short because of one farrow cow. Pork and potatoes, pork and beans, and pork fat for the enrichment of salt cod- fish mixed with potato; pork fat on slices of brown- bread, pork fat and Porto Rico molasses (with slivers of cane in it) on hot biscuits -- that was the diet on which I throve. Without butter, a condi- tion my aunt took pains to conceal, we could carry no bread for our school luncheons, lest its unbut- tered state should provoke comment. My aunt there- fore, made great sheets of gingerbread wherefrom she filled our dinner pails. Sometimes it froze on the two-and-a-half-mile carry and thawing in the warm school room turned glutinous when masticated, dropping into the stomach "kerlunker," as we said. The next season, with apples to stew and dry, ber- ries to can and a cow come in, brought better fare. Hardship is like romance -- always in the past. While being undergone it is unrecognized. Life was hap- py despite zero weather, drifts half-way to the roof, clothes that let in the snow to melt against the flesh and a ration not scientifically balanced. CHAPTER II. 1 -- SO THIS IS SURRY. SURRY (pop. 350) lies a little west of the geographical center of Chesire county, toward the southwest corner of the state. Over the southern boundary of the county you are in Massa- chusetts; over the western line, which is the Connecticut river, you are in Vermont. According to the way you view Surry, with its twenty square miles of territory, it is a valley town or a hill town, or both. It has hills east and west. The hills at one time met near the north end; but the Ashuelot river broke through and ran south along the foot of Surry mountain, on the east, which is fifteen hundred feet high and steep. That mountain guards the eastern side of the town. On the top of it there is a mys- terious pond, said to be fathomless, but white lilies float on its surface near the margin defended by tangled tree trunks, and can be gathered by swim- ming for them in the dark waters. The Ashuelot in its meanderings from immemo- rial time has created a valley half a mile wide, with a plateau for the village of a dozen houses, town hall, school, and church to be built upon. To the west the ground continues to rise until it reaches the summit of Surry Hill and the borders of the adjoin- 27 28 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT ing towns on that side. Surry once belonged to the towns lying east and west of it, but being inac- cessible from those directions on account of the height of land, it was allowed to take a name and "go it alone," as they say there. The smooth way to get into Surry is from the south, where the river has leveled the country and there are fewer ups and downs. The farm I called my home (1865-'75) lies two miles and a half southwest of the village, and is reached from there by a road which rises all the way. By a happy freak of nature, the ground the road runs on for half a mile in one direction from the house and a mile in the other, is level, but there is a half-mile hill at each end of this, the only level stretch on that so-called Old Walpole Road for eight miles. The arable acres of the farm, that have been cultivated for the past one hundred and twenty-five years, cover a long knoll, with the buildings at the south and sunny end. Men born and reared in Surry return when aged and prosper- ous and make show-places of the old homesteads, One could find no location there so well situated for the purpose as this one, which has even a spring and a pond on it. The hill back of the house rises by an abrupt acclivity to near a level with the top of Surry mountain, and looks it in the face two miles away. At the very peak of the hill there crops out a ledge, and on that ledge the last glacier to come through left standing, balanced on its smaller end, a rock fifteen feet high, of a formation not native to those parts. As a bare-footed boy I often climbed FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 29 it by inserting my toes into its fissures and crevices, and once at the top could see all the country from there to Mount Monadnock, fifteen miles south, in- cluding the city of Keene. I spent hours on that @@@@ (line drawing of a scenic view with the big rock in the fore- ground and a boy sitting atop it) (caption) VIEWING THE LANDSCAPE O'ER rock, viewing the landscape, while the address of William Tell to his native mountains ran in my mind. The last time I stood at the base of the big boulder, its summit appeared inaccessible except by means of an elevator; and I had then forgotten what William Tell said. How plainly voices from the road below carried up the side of that hill, especially the bell-like ac- cents of our not-distant neighbor, Mr. Reed, who sometimes drove by. One standing on its brow heard a woman in her doorway inquire after the health of Mr. Reed's family, and his reply: "Wal, not so very good. You see my boy Charlie stepped 30 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT on a scythe and cut his heel; my boy George is suf- fering from a boil on his hindermost sitdown; my wife has just had a baby; and I have been troubled with b-a-a-d Di-Or-Re-Or." My selection is not happy, but it is authentic; and this is a true book. Perhaps once a year, in the fall, a drover going south to Boston went through that road with a hundred head of cattle, gathered from all the way north to the Canadian line, or beyond -- a boy and a dog, footing it and a man riding in a buggy. When night overtook him, the drover paid for the privi- lege of turning his cattle into fields where there was fall feed. He furnished a topic of conversation for a week. Another notable to go by there once was Max Shinburn, the bank robber, on his way to commit a robbery in Walpole. Other days, hardly a team would pass. A team was any rig, single or double. Such as went that way were from further up the road, going to Keene. These were such reg- ular passersby that they were known before they came in sight by the familiar rhythm of the horses's feet beating on the ground, or by the peculiar rat- tle of the wagon or the "chuck" of the wheels on the axle. The horse could be recognized though a stran- ger might be driving it. In Keene, where we had lived, the street traffic, of considerable volume, was negligible as a spectacle; here, one left his work, if need be, so as not to miss anything moving past, man or animal. In Keene we ran only to "see the cars go by." Here we might catch the sound of a freight engine a mile or two off puffing on the up- grade to the Summit, but we saw no trains. The FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 31 sound of an axe falling on a tree would carry half a mile, and the chopper might have struck the next blow and the next before it got to us. If the man was working in sight, it seemed as if the axe made the noise when it was above his head. The silence, when you stopped to listen to it, was as distinctly audible as the roar of a city. The hill capped by the big rock was the cow pasture, covering eighty acres, with twenty of them wooded. The best feed for the cows grew farthest from the barn and around a water hole. That was a terrible land for me, when I got there after sun- down to drive the cows home; for, looking about me, I could see all of creation except the cows. Sheep would be plentiful, if you were not hunting for them, and the colts were either there or visible at a distance. The kine might have started for the barn by another route than the one I had taken in reaching the spot. If so, I must follow them down an old sled-road through the woods, where, pausing anon to hark for that cow bell, I should hear my- self discussed by the birds and insects that become garrulous and conversational as the shadows fall; or I might meet a questing hedgehog on his way to the cornfield for his grub. I might even, so my fears told me, encounter the bobcat or the bear lately reported in that neighborhood. A tree-toad would start his evensong almost at my ear. Perhaps I should scare up a partridge whose sudden whirr would for a second or two paralyze me with fright. The partridge's flight is always unexpected. He seems to start from between your feet, and he is 32 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT the bird that set the airplane an example in making a noise when taking off. But in the open the boy who stood still, listening for the bell, heard nothing but his own vital organs working, his heart thump- ing like a hydraulic pump, his ears "singing." He was a small speck in a big universe. This "chore" of combing eighty acres to find a few cows was all in the day's work. A girl might say she was afraid to go after the cows at night, but a boy wouldn't. A quarter of a century later than this experience of mine, I heard an elderly lady from Providence, R.I., ask a small boy, her "grand"- nephew, if he would not like to live with her in the city. He objected long, but finally came to terms. "I might go and live with you for a while," he said, "but I wouldn't go after the cows, by Jesus." Yet @@@@ (a line drawing of a boy with a saw and endless stacks of wood to be sawed) (caption) THERE WAS ALWAYS WOOD TO SAW hunting cows at night was only one pest of farm life. Weeds had to be pulled in summer days and FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 33 the wood-saw pushed in winter. It seemed to me that all the disagreeable duties fell to the youngest. 2 -- WHILE SCHOOL KEPT IT WAS VACATION. Schooldays came as a furlough. The cartoonists who comically portray the reluctance of the small boy at going back to school were never farmers' boys in my circumstances, nor was Shakespeare one either. I knew of at least one who took an early start and then crept not like a snail but ran. He did what looked most like creeping on the home stretch. To me the eight to sixteen weeks of school in the course of a year meant ease and playtime. They were my vacation. As regards my education, which was fragmentary, a dozen district schools contributed to it. To the first of these, in East Sullivan, I was conducted by Amanda Dunn -- later my aunt by marriage but then only a big girl -- with my mother's consent, not mine. As I was in my fourth year, I might have forgot- ten about that school by now, except that I took recess with a parcel of fresh girls, who, moved only by what I regarded as an unworthy curiosity, gath- ered about me at a time when all a man wanted was to be let alone. Followed Public School No. 2 in Keene, where I nearly got my head knocked off by the crank of a chain pump that reversed itself. I know no more than this about that school, for I was only 4, save that there I made the acquaintance of Ed. Kimball (he had a share of the stock when The Truth Seeker Company was organized) and Charlie and Jennie Sanger, who as residents of Boston turned out a dozen years later to he the grand- 34 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT children of Edmund Woodward of Surry, the farm- er that had me then for "hired man." Ed. Kimball's father Horatio served as mayor of Keene for a number of terms. Another Keene school, perhaps No. 1, for the street it stood on was named School Street, claimed me for a pupil. There the scholars sang Civil War songs when they were the latest successes. Then, at 5, I went to school in Unity, Maine, again attended by a large girl, one Amelia Webb. The teacher caused me to answer her with scorn by asking if I knew my, letters, whereas I could read. The Marlborough street school in Keene enrolled me the next year. The teacher, Miss Willard, had the odd front name of Bial. By the time I was out of school at 8 I knew Colburn's Mental Arithmetic, including the penultimate ex- ample about the farmer who, if he had as many geese and half as many more and two geese and a half, would have had a hundred. My schooling was continued at the Four Corners, half way between Keene and Surry Hill. My brother and cousin Stephen with me made the three-mile descent from the hill in the morning and climbed that grade again at night. I first noticed, then, the reading of the Bible in school. A large boy, hav- ing searched the scriptures, wrote biblical references on slips of paper and passed them to the girls. The countenance of a high-spirited girl, Sarah Darling by name, blazed with indignation when he lured her into looking up Romans iv, 19. I knew the Bible was inspired, because so informed by Sunday school teachers; yet at that I wondered why an inspired FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 35 work should contain so large an excess of suspended mud; for this industrious youth had been obliging enough to mark the low spots in most of the Bibles used in that school. Straight east from our Surry Hill house, across a mile and a half of rugged pasture land and wood- ed territory, the South End school invited. For a winter's term the three of us took it in, breaking our own path and wading depths of snow. Again, a mile off to the northwest of our home stood the Surry Hill schoolhouse, in a district once fairly populous. It opened for me during one term, the scholars numbering four. At this school we first had geog- raphies that contained pictures of prehistoric men and monsters, and possibly an outline of evolution. When snow made the schoolhouse inaccessible we stayed home, the teacher being a boarder, and held the school in our "other room," which suited us and was convenient for the neighbors' children. Now the schoolhouse has come down from the hill and set itself alongside the farmhouse. Two of these schools, namely the South End and Surry Village, were exceptional: I attended each more than one term. Going to whatever locality the farmer might happen to be in who wanted a boy, I in these in- stances returned to a district where I had been be- fore. There are four more to be named. From the first place where I lived as hired boy I attended the Walpole Hill school, and also the school in Christian Holler (Walpole). When I changed again to a school new to me, I found myself in the Lon- don district, East Westmoreland. My scholastic 36 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT training ended in Westmoreland village. Such learning as these dozen schools diffused, afforded me all I have ever needed of mathematics, made me a successful contender at spelling-schools, and grounded me safely in grammar. Even though at 18 I could have had a good-sized school to teach if I would take it, my ignorance on general subjects was profound. Knowledge has its limits, but igno- rance is measureless. Mine was total except for the look-in I had on a few subjects. It was all look-in; I had no outlook. 3 -- ECHOES FROM THE SCHOOL ROOM. The one-room district schools had advantages missed by separated pupils in graded schools. In them the attentive scholar could learn his own les- sons and the lessons of all the classes ahead of him by hearing them recite. Thus listening in, I learned the contents of books I had never possessed or opened. There was a large variety in these, for textbooks changed as often as I went from one district to another. A worn copy of the Weld & Quackenbos grammar book to which I clung in all my shifting about, would sometimes put me in a grammar class by myself. My mind not being chargeable with resistance to the intrusion of knowledge, I was apt at commit- ting words and recitations to memory. My con- temporaries will remember the appended fragments from readings and declarations. I heard them in the voices of large scholars when I was a small one: "Sir Ralph the Rover tore his hair, And cursed himself in his despair; FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 37 But the waves rush in on every side And the vessel sinks beneath the tide." "A verb used to denote an action or feeling by a subject or agent that passes over from the subject or agent to and terminates upon some person or thing as its object is a transitive verb." "And heralds shouted in his ear, 'Bow down, ye slave, bow down."' "'Make way for liberty!' he cried; Made way for liberty and died." "I will go to my tent and lie down in despair; I will paint me in black and sever my hair. I will sit on the shore when the hurricane blows, And reveal to the god of the tempest my woes." "Lords of creation indeed, and can't even take care of an umbrella. ..." "Pizzaro -- How now, Gomez, what bringest thou? "Gomez -- In yonder camp we have surprised an old Peruvian. Escape us by flight he could not, and we took him without resistance." "Not many years ago where you now stand, surrounded by all that exalts and embellishes civilized life, the rank thistle nodded in the wind, and the wild fox dug his hole unscared. ... Here too lived and loved another race of beings. ... dipped his paddle in yon sedgy lake .... beneath the same moon that smiles for you the Indian lover wooed his dusky mate." "The mounds of the western prairies are among the most interesting features of the country. They are so regular in form that they are generally supposed to have been work of human hands, but by whom they were reared or for what purpose is unknown." "The voyagers said we will wait until the line gales have done with their equinoctial fury. ... Death was the pilot that stood at the helm, but no one knew it. ... the ill-omened Vesta dealt her death stroke to the Arctic." 38 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT I am obliged to suspend. My notes made with a view to citing these and other quotations num- ber forty-one, and I desist. Having deleted thirty- odd reechoing ones, I retain the last of the ten re- maining because it started me on a line of inquiry that took me into skepticism. The excerpt, with errors and omissions, is from a sermon by Henry Ward Beecher on the Loss of the Arctic; but what was "equinoctial fury"? My aunt said that when the sun crosses the equator a storm is kicked up called the line gale, or the "equinoctial." If I would notice, there was always a storm when the sun crossed the line. Why? Because it makes the days and the nights of the same length, March 21 and September 23. I heard mention of the line gale all the days of my youth, but the gale never arrived on schedule time. Any storm within a fort- night answered for the name. The Weather Bureau has exploded the myth of the "equinoctial." The remains may be laid away with the ground hog and St. Swithin as weather breeders. Now, then, I believe I left myself some pages back, hunting cows on the summit of Surry Hill, with all creation (except the cows) in view just beyond the horizon. That landscape, the town of Surry, its village and its farms, lies spread before me still like a map, or better than any map, since I can see them all, every square acre of them, al- most, without looking. The old-growth pines that then were landmarks, a hundred feet high or more, went to the sawmill long ago, but they are still in this picture of mine that was never photographed. FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 39 4 -- SCANDALOUS DOINGS And Surry village! I never can forget that hamlet, for was it not the scene of the only scandal that has enriched my life? That scandal came early. I was no more than ten years old; and probably was but nine. From the farm on the Hill I went @@@@ (line drawing of a small building that was his school) (caption) THE SURRY VILLAGE SCHOOL HOUSE This is a late and defective picture. It does not show Sam Pool's blacksmith shop that stood at right. to the school house in the village, near the river and mountain, by walking the two and a half miles of lonesome road that lay between, with only one house on it. The school "kept" in summer for children too small to do farm work. That is how I know I was under eleven. I guess that the teacher that summer was Charlotte Ellis -- destined years later to become the wife of J.R. Holman of Hins- dale, who took The Truth Seeker. Did Mr. Holman indulge in any spacious remarks on the editorial 40 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT knowledge displayed in this paper, Charlotte could reply: "Your editor! I taught that boy all he knows."* Not more than twenty scholars came, mostly girls. Inside the schoolhouse the sexes were divided; outside they mingled and played the same games. In our young minds I doubt the dis- tinctions between us were recognized as sexual. Girls were only an inferior variety of boy, wearing different clothes and longer hair; they could run fast, but couldn't throw a stone, and were spiteful in a scuffle. Yet for all these serious disabilities, they were tolerated and admitted to games they could play, squat-tag and "high-spy" and maybe others. And then one day the boys deserted them -- disappeared without trace. To one of these bright lads it had occurred that we could dam the little brook in the hollow back of the schoolhouse and make a place to go in swimming. The erecting of the dam with small stones and pieces of sod con- sumed more than one noon hour. The second day saw the feat of engineering accomplished; on the third the swimming began; we stripped and went in. The expanse of water was all of ten feet long and nearly that wide; maximum depth 20 inches. One could swim three or four strokes before grounding. And how about the girls we left behind us? On the fourth day, when playing by themselves had lost its edge, a half dozen of *The thought is not original with me but adapted. When an old sailor under whom as a boy Morgan Robertson served an apprenticeship on the Great Lakes heard of him as an author, he exclaimed: "That feller writin' books' Hell, I learnt Morg 'Robertson all he ever know." FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 41 them followed us to the pond, the size and depth of which quite astonished them. The squeals they emitted, expressive of admiration, gratified our pride as builders, but when they took for granted their right to enter the water, they were sternly for- @@@@ (line drawing of a warer-hole with four nude little boys in the foreground, and a nude little girl emerging from the bushes to join the boys and swim in their better warer-hole) (caption) THE FEMALE PERIL. bidden and ordered to find a wading-place further upstream. They retreated to where the alders, meeting over the brook at the head of our pond, hid them from our view. They were noisy crea- tures, with their screaming and laughing, but what they found to excite them we were not interested to inquire. We learned soon enough anyhow. The water from our dam backed up beyond the alders and spread there into a fine place to wade. And that was not quite all they had to exclaim and giggle over, for they were taking off their dresses and leaving them ashore to keep the skirts dry. 42 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT One of them came into view promenading the bank with no dress on. She thereby rose in the estima- tion of a boy, for when a girl stepped out of her skirt in those days she revealed a garment that had the promise and possibilities of pants. I only record the feeling of gratification experienced at seeing this near approach of a girl to the human form. She was all right. So were the rest of them, who could now wade and wet no clothes. Yet those girls were not contented to let well enough alone. When we came out to dress we observed that they had progressed to complete immersion and were resuming underthings, as after a swim. They had kept quiet about it. The boys felt it was none of their business and said nothing. The girls, when picking up their clothes, politely faced the spectator. If they must turn the back they modestly covered the lower part with a garment. The idyllic scenes were repeated with no interference or trespass on either side until a later day, when consternation fell upon us to see the alders parted and one girl and then another come gliding down the brook between them. They moved forward with arms extended and feet far apart to keep their balance. The boys who saw stood paralyzed by the spectacle -- the cheek of those girls wanting to use the boys' pond when they had one of their own! The brother of the leading girl angrily ordered her back. She shamelessly stood her ground and said, "I won't." He swung back his hand, threatening. "Out of this or I'll splash you," and he struck the surface of the water, throwing a "wave" in her face. He FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 43 was joined by others, who went to it desperately, splashing and scooping water over the invaders -- all of whom most unexpectedly and successfully threw it back. Certain of their forces, unable to come through, had left the stream and deployed around the alders, entering the water behind us and making a rear attack. What was the use? They were too many for us. Our arms were weary. A truce fol- lowed. The bathing became established as mixed. Laughter and the spirit of play and comradeship pre- vailed. A man grown cannot quite get back to the reaction of the small boy toward the small girl. It is part wonder and part his dislike for what he can- not understand. He dismisses the subject from his mind lest his attitude toward her change to one of sympathy, which is girlish. There was among them a little freckle-face with long red curls or ringlets who pulled me by the hand and made me run along the bank and around about to dry. That girl had me gentled. In winter, when the game was playing horse, and the boys were lined up facing the school house for a "stable," and stood there pawing and whickering till the girls put on the reins and drove them away, I always knew whose horsey I was going to be. I heard from, her forty years later, when she sent word that she "remembered." Remembered what? If Freckle Face lives still, her ringlets are either bobbed or gray. She was a year older than I. 5 -- THE SCANDAL BREAKS But the scandal! The boys and girls went to their different dressing-places, and returned to school clothed and in their right minds, Drouth or 44 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT rain or change of temperature put an end in time to the bathing season. When it was all over and forgotten by the children, the scandal exploded among their elders. Girls were heard asking one another with grave faces what their mothers had said to them. I caught a ride part of the way home in the hind end of an open buggy driven by a woman. We were stopped by another woman, who came out of her house with an apron wound about her arms, and they discussed the matter in "blind" language that I understood perfectly. Both tried to look horrified. Each was afraid that the other would think she condoned such goings on, and I believe that both chuckled over it when alone. The woman in the buggy sighed: "Well, I suppose the less said the soonest mended." The woman with her arms in the apron said: "Yes, the more it is stirred the worse it will stink." I thought of the bright little girl, white and clean as a pond-lily, who led her mates between the alders and into the water where the boys were, and decided the mother should not have chosen that malodorous word. Later that village bad a real scandal. A girl of fifteen, who virtuously would have switched her little sister for going in swimming with boys, ex- perienced religion and joined the church. In less than a year something happened. Nobody told me just what, Those things are hidden from babes and revealed unto the wise and prudent; and I was only twelve. The officers of the church took action to expel the girl from the fold and turn her back again to "the world." I happened to hear the judg- FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 45 ment of "the world" on that proceeding. In the village store when I was there on an errand for Aunt Polly Abbott, who had me in her employ that winter, three of the most enlightened men of the town were met. There were William H. Porter, M.D., the village doctor; Holland Stevens, the village Spiritualist; and George K. Harvey, later a state senator. They took up the matter of the girl thrown back upon the world by the church, and in- quired if such things could be. Harvey questioned whether the church might land a damaged member on the world without the world's consent. Dr. Porter proposed that the three there present appoint themselves a committee on behalf of the world to take the affair under consideration. Holland Stev- ens contended ably that when anything lawfully in the possession of the world was taken from it by the unworldly, the world had a clear right to insist that, if returned, the article should be in as good order as before. "For instance," he said, to illustrate, "if I get a piece of goods from Marsh Britton here" (Marshall Britton kept the store), "and keep it awhile and then carry it to him all mussed up, Marsh ain't under any obligation to take it back." George Harvey voted Aye to that, and Dr. Porter said: "Holland, I deputize you, then, as representing this Committee of the World, to wait on these church people and tell them the world declines to receive this girl except with the guarantee that she is in as good condition in all respects as when they took her in, damn 'em." CHAPTER III. 1 -- MY UNCLE CLEM. IN this account of my childhood I have said that when mother was widowed and her two boys orphaned (1862), she placed my brother Eugene and me in the care of her sister, Louisa, Mrs. Benjamin Clement, and went out to service as a nurse. I suspect my uncle, Ben Clement, of distaste for sustained labor. I certainly heard neighbors and others call him shiftless -- judgments that were perhaps unfair, since he shortly drew a pension as a veteran disabled by heart disease con- tracted during the war in the performance of duty at the front. But one member of his regiment, being drunk, declared in my hearing that "Clem" never got to the front and was never in any action of the war. The attacks of heart disease came on as the regiment approached the scene of conflict and Clem fell out of the ranks. So, although he was in the same company, he was not in the fight at Bull Run where my father fell, but was lying under an ambu- lance or other wagon suffering from palpitation of the heart. Army life irked my uncle. He told me Plainly that when they brought to him the news that Henry (my father) had fallen, he repined that he was not in Henry's restful place under the sod 46 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 47 and the dew. I am sure I shared his regrets if it meant my own father's survival in his place. On demobilization he joined the Invalid Corps and spent a term at Gallops Island. By trade my uncle was a carpenter and joiner, also called a mechanic. The tools of a carpenter then required a lumber wagon to move them. They included planes from eight inches to four feet long, a raft of them for smoothing, matching, join- ing, beading, grooving; chisels of all measurements, including one that rode in the bottom of the chest and reached from end to end. The big plane was a long jointer; the chisel a jimmyslick. With the smaller chisels he could mortise a window sash; with the larger ones great beams for the frame of a barn. There were gimlets and bits, augers and pod-augers; files flat, half round and round, and three cornered; a battery of saws running from large dimensions down to keyhole size. He could make window frames, doors and trim, and cut his own beads and moldings. The carpenter might lay a stone foundation, build the house on it, and lath, plaster and paint, for all which operations he carried the tools in his chest. Today carpenters are seen going to their jobs bearing only a hand tool- chest smaller than a portable typewriter case, with saw and steel square protruding. But though Clem could do these things, he worked discontinuously; perhaps it was his health, perhaps a dull labor market. It was merely my bad luck that my uncle looked upon "flogging" and "the rod" as essential to a 48 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT boy's deportment; therefore he presented me with whippings on the same principle that my aunt ad- ministered sulphur and molasses, for treatment and precaution. Aunt had a kind heart that disap- proved of the horsewhip for boys. She would not let him touch her own boy Stephen except over her body. I heard her plead with him on a day I was to be thrashed, and still thank her for her futile "O Benjamin, don't," though he thrust her back through the doorway into the house. He was whal- ing me at the moment for going in swimming all summer without his consent. An eccentric if not crazy character in the neighborhood named Bill Mason, reputed to possess extraordinary strength, warned my uncle that if he ever whipped me again he would cut some withes and twist them and give him a trimming. His heart attacks never seized him when duty called him to wallop me. A friendly chap, Riley Kenney by name, who lived back over the hill, hearing that I was "gented" to pick up a half acre of potatoes in a day or take a flogging at sundown, came to help me, if needed, in the middle of the afternoon. By wasting no time straighten- ing my back or looking at the sun, which is the farmer's clock, I had gathered the potatoes into baskets and borne them to a cart. Yet my uncle was a tolerably kind man when not bound by the dictum of Solomon on the virtues of the rod of correction. He had no understanding of boys. He believed they should learn to work with poor tools, dull axes and saws. "The bad work- man complains of his tools," he said. When I mur- FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 49 mured he quoted: "If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength." I aspired to grow up and return one of his thrashings, but on a Fourth of July, the annual @@@@ (line drawing of a covered bridge over a streem and nude boys swiming) (caption) THE OLD BRIDGE STILL STANDS. go-in-swimming day, I saved his son from drowning and called the account square. Although it was a rule for a boy to remain on the home farm as long as the old man could lick him, my deportment passed from his control in 1870, when I was 13. Eugene, being more than two years my senior, had already tried for two seasons the life of a farmer's hired boy. The hire was board, school, and washing. Although an advanced scholar always, in build he was slight; in childhood he was rather 50 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT pindling. I passed him in bulk when I was five and he seven, and he never caught up. He looked for lighter work than farm labor. People say that a boy raised on a farm sets out in life with a good constitution. He does. He has a good constitu- tion if he survives. Mother took Eugene to a New York printer for a time, thus fitting him for a few years' work on a Keene newspaper. But he was back in New York at 19, printer on The Truth Seeker for five years, running the paper in the proprietor's absence for three years, ('79-82), then editor for a quarter of a century. 2 -- BOOKS AND MINSTRELSY. I will say in behalf of our Surry home that it sheltered the only bookish or reading family for miles around. It established connection with a library that provided us with the books of the day, which my aunt read aloud to the other members gathered around the table. The shaded kerosene lamp stood between her eyes and the pages of the book. The authors were Trowbridge, Farjeon, Capt. mayne Reid, and whoever wrote the Life of Isaac Tatem hopper (grandfather of DeWolf). Add to these "The Man with the Broken Ear," by Edmond About, and "The Dove in the Eagle's Nest," by Charlotte M. Yonge. The New England Farmer brought a story every week for her to read to us. This paper also carried the advertisement of a merchant who expressed himself through the medi- um of poetry. He soared to lofty heights: FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 51 "The planets as they roll around In the vast realm, of space, Will all be found, if traced with care, Fixed in their proper place." And then came down to business: "The proper place to buy boys' clothes -- Hats, caps, pants, coat and shoes complete -- Is at the store of George Fenno's, Corner of Beech and Washington Streets." Josh Billings and the Danbury News Man were writing; so was Petroleum V. Nasby. The "Rollo" books were dated for me in my sixth year. Give me now one of Beadle's Dime Novels and let me read of Old Rube the Trailer. Better it were for a boy to read Beadle's Dime Novels than not to read at all. Farmers called at each other's houses winter even- ings for no purpose but to talk. They kept their hats on. Nor were we without minstrelsy. Uncle Billy Wright went from house to house, arriving preferably at meal time, carrying his fiddle in a green bag, and scraping it while he sang. His songs had stories in them, or they celebrated his- torical events, like this: "The tenth of September let us all remember As long as this globe on its axis rolls round, Our tars and marines on Lake Eric were seen To pull the proud flag of Great Britain come down." 52 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT He knew all of George Washington's preference, "The Darby Ram," the last line being very daring. One of his songs contained the splendid stanza: "Then on to the table Jack he rolled Five hundred guineas in bright gold. Said he: 'I am your lover bold, For I am Jack the Sailor'." Jack had come back rich beyond the dreams of salesmanship, and so dolled up that the girl and her parent, who wouldn't have her marrying a penni- less sailor, never knew him until he revealed him- self in this dramatic fashion. One song of Billy Wright's developed an intrigue, wherein the hus- band, surprising the lover, who went out of the (line drawing of an old man playing a fiddle and stomping his foot) (caption) THE MINSTRAL. window, was recompensed and revenged on finding himself in possession of "more than a hundred pounds and a glorious pair of breeches. Tol, lolly dingdong, doddle O day, and A glorious pair of breeches." So the cash balance was on the side of virtue. Let it ever be thus. FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 53 Uncle Billy sang with pathos, while his fiddle made a harmonious noise: "Oh, my name was Robert Kidd, as I sail'd, as I sail'd, Oh, my name was Robert Kidd, as I sail'd; My sinful footsteps slid, God's laws they did forbid; But still wickedly I did, as I sail'd. I'd a Bible in my hand, as I sail'd, as I sail'd, I'd a Bible in my hand, as I sail'd; I'd a Bible in my hand by my father's great command, And I sunk it in the sand, as I sail'd. I murdered William Moore, as I sail'd, as I sail'd, I murdered William Moore, as I sail'd; I murdered William Moore, and I left him in his gore, Not many leagues from shore, as I sail'd." The refrain "As I sailed, as I sailed" haunted the reverie of men as that other ghost "Long, long ago, long ago" troubled the subconscious state of women. I have heard a woman do her whole morning's work to that dolorous monotony; and if "As I sailed" got into a man's head it would stay until there was a change of weather. Other characters seen no more on those roads are the pack peddler, the codger, and the man who drove the tincart. The minstrel with his stringed in- strument and the peddler with his fardel had sur- vived from the middle ages. The codger gave way to the tramp who jumped freight trains. The tin- cart, like the wooden Indian in front of the cigar stores, disappeared for some subtle reason I cannot name. The junkman still goes his rounds in the sub- urbs and in the residence sections of cities. I believe that my old neighborhood changed more in the few 54 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT years after I left it than it had prior to then in all the decades since the Revolution. 3 -- I GO OUT TO WORK. In April, 1870, I went definitely out to work. A young farmer who had got land and a house and taken a wife, wanted a boy and came for me. Since that spring I have never been jobless, never applied for work, never had the experience nor the feeling of being unemployed. Except for Sundays, holi- days, and a half dozen vacations, a day's work has always been ahead of me when I arose. This place, in the edge of Walpole, was three miles away from Clement's and some hundreds of feet higher up, and even that was not the, "height of land," for wherever you go in New Hampshire there is more altitude just beyond. This able-bodied, handsome and intelligent young agriculturist, my employer, idled his evenings playing with a cat in his lap. At my former home we had rushed for a book when supper was over, but in this house there was no book. The Youth's Companion that came to the young wife I saw only when she enlisted my help to work out the charades. She called me into, the house sometimes from a distance if her husband was away, and asked me the names of authors, rivers, cities, and so on, not occurring to her. I en- joyed these hours and worked faster to make up for them when I got back to the field. Here was a mismated couple that should have had a trial mar- riage first, or at least have followed the custom of their forebears who sampled knowledge before they FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 55 became life subscribers. They had been different- ly nurtured, he on a rough hill farm, and she in a home at the outskirts of a city where there was plenty of "company" and a division of household duties. Here, where her married life began, was a lonely place, no neighbor within call, and all the work to do that was known to a farmer's wife -- washing, baking, churning, sweeping, getting to- gether a "mess of vittles" three times a day, and answering a call into the field occasionally in haying time. And he worked harder than she did. When- ever a horse was free from the team, she fretted to go visit her parents five miles away, pref- erably Saturday night and over Sunday, with her husband left at home. She was unsocial with him: one saw her evading him by day, and heard her angry outcries at night. Things went to smash the first year. Some would not say it was lucky, but so it appears to me, that the teacher of the fall school came to board with them -- a fine big girl who had lure and desire. She fell in love with the little wife. (The wife was so diminutive that when she took a husband they said he would have to shake the sheets to find her.) And the husband fell in love with the school teacher, and she reciprocated there also. That would have been an ideal match, for they were a couple of mated birds. There was need no longer for the wife to evade him, nor occasion for her noc- turnal murmurings. However, a woman can be jealous if she can't be loving. Except in the love game, persons who have rejected a proffered art- icle are indifferent who gets it. My employer's wife, 56 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT on the contrary, begrudged this girl -- who always managed to put herself in line to be held for a hug or chased for a kiss -- the possession of the husband she herself did not appear to want. The girl be- came an eyesore and a bore, while the husband's evident content was more than the wife could bear. She went home to her mother and stayed until the teacher, seeing it was improper for her to remain without another woman in the house, went some- where else to board. Happily, the breach was mended before it got too bad for repair. Some wise woman must have given the wife valuable counsel, for in a few months she returned to her spouse; and whereas there had previously been no child or prospect of one, now there was one within the year, and others followed closely. The teacher married. It would not surprise me if she rejoiced in the thought that she had united man and wife, as was the fact, and had fun herself while performing that benevolent deed. Three marriages are known to man -- the trial marriage, the companionate marriage, and marriage; and yet there are not three marriages, but one, and that is a trial marriage no matter what you call it. I have observed, living together, couples who were married and also couples who were not. All mani- fested the same devotion on an average, the excess of it, if any, being on the side of the unwedded. And they all had the same troubles. 4 -- A WOMAN OF SIMPLE SPEECH. A strange lady lived nearby, there in Walpole -- one known to a considerable distance abroad -- if I FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 57 may use the words of Howells, characterizing a cer- tain piece by Mark Twain -- for her "breadth of parlance." Mrs. Chandler Wilbur, she was, an ex- ponent of the four-letter words. In our sophisti- cated speech, when speaking about the things of the flesh, we use words of three or four syllables, and of as many letters as may be needed to spell them. Mrs. Wilbur, in such emergencies, used no more than four letters and one syllable. Mrs. Angela T. Heywood, a Massachusetts woman of the past cen- tury, wrote much in advocacy of a return to these simple forms, and even ventured to print one of the least innocent of them. Mrs. Heywood may not have employed the terms in social intercourse, but this Walpole lady did, and they added piquancy to her conversation, unrestrained as it was by the presence of mixed company, young or old, friends or strangers. This foe of euphemism and verbal artificialities was a good woman withal, and the mother of men. The neighborhood contained no prettier or more modest girl than her little grand- daughter. Regarding Mrs. Heywood and her simplified vo- cabulary I find the following from the pen of Stephen Pearl Andrews in The Truth Seeker of August 11, 1883, more than a dozen years after Mrs. Wilbur had pointed the way to freedom from the babyish and silly restrictions against which the Princeton lady rebelled. Having visited the Hey- wood home and had conversation with Angela, Mr. Andrews wrote as follows: "Mrs. Heywood is in a very high degree mediumistic, in- spirational, and prophetic. Much of what she says and 58 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT does merely flows through her as an instrument of some power which seems determined to break up the babyish and silly prudery of the people, and so lead the way to the free discussion of all physiological and sex questions, although, still, she is herself in full harmony with her in- spirations. She is again utterly destitute of the sense of fear. She laughs and rollicks over what seems to the on- looker the edge of a fearful precipice. She would sooner see her beautiful home ruthlessly sacked, her children scat- tered, and be herself driven, as a drudge, into somebody's else kitchen than she would back down an inch from her full claim to the right to say her full thought in her own words." Mrs. Wilbur made no claim to being inspired, and only the affiliation of her form of speech to that of revelation warrants us in attributing to its splen- dors an occult source. The unlawfulness of the four-letter word where a sesquipedalian polysyllable might be used was the discovery of some one undoubtedly the enemy of direct speech. Had we not evidence of the fact in the existence of the various vice societies could we ever believe that the choice of one word instead of another might adversely affect a man's life, liber- ty, and prosperity? The thing is beyond reason. The long substitute word will inevitably in process of time become coarse. How, then, will careful talkers express themselves when education shall have made their now refined terms the familiar idiom of the vulgar? The Walpole lady's aforesaid breadth of par- lance was no sample of the verbal tastes and habits of the New England women of her generation or the next. The contrast is beyond description. The FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 59 women affected a niceness that embarrassed them and cramped their powers of expression. It was ungenteel, for example, for one of them to say bull. I heard my cousin Stephen's wife speak of the male Holstein in her husband's herd as "the animal." My aunt Louisa, who in a flash of temper used a biblical word, felt so bad over the slip that she went away and cried. Sensitiveness to all that is revolt- (line drawing of an old woman smoking a pipe and knitting.) (caption) MY GRANDMOTHER PREFERRED A PIPE. ing ran in the family, my grandmother being so afflicted, even though she indulged the now unfem- inine habit of smoking a pipe, which I often lit with pieces of split shingle kept on a shelf over the fireplace for that purpose. But when grandmother's mind decayed at the age of 95, what a change took place! All the repressions of a lifetime were un- loosed, and she chatted affably and familiarly on forbidden themes. Told one day that the minister was calling, she asked not to be left alone with him, 60 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT as she not only questioned the safety of any woman in his presence, but doubted he was sound. All this being true of my respectable old grandmother, it might be true of all the saints who happen not to have liberated their thoughts while with us. Do they ponder life, then, and the things of the flesh in terms they permit themselves not to utter? And if the mind is the soul, what a load the unexpur- gated one must carry to the blest abode! 5 -- I LEARN OF UNCLE ELIPHAZ FIELD. Before the season ended in Walpole I knew that my next place was to be with Uncle Eliphaz and Aunt Lucia Field in the South end of Surry. Un- cle Eliphaz was grandfather to the children of two families in the neighborhood, and Lucia was the spinster aunt. One of the younger set, Sarah Ellis, dwelt with them and taught the school I attended in the little building just beyond the garden fence. The old gentleman was older than the Constitution of the United., States, having been born but one decade after Independence. Any man above the age of seventy used to be spoken of as a "link" be- tween the present century and the, last. Uncle Eli- phaz, having seen and admired the world so wide, found pleasure in relating his reminiscences for my benefit, while I equally rejoiced to hear them. When company came Aunt Lucia warned me not to start her father agoing. Visitors from Boston surrounded the table on a day I call to mind when he was moved to give his experiences among the Indians. Now I had seen Indians in Maine in 1863. They were FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 61 basketmakers, to be met on the road, shouldering to market a bunch of baskets half the size of a load of hay and scaring horses into the ditch. But my con- ception of the noble red man had been drawn from the books published by Mr. Beadle. The word In- dians brought to my vision brave and dignified war- riors of lofty mien, wearing eagle feathers from the top of the head down the back, bearing a bow, and sporting blankets and moccasins picturesquely beaded. As I wished this impression confirmed I asked him how his Indians were dressed. Imme- diately I knew it was a social error, for he replied: "Some of the younger ones didn't wear nothin'," and he mentioned the consequent exposures of both kinds. Aunt Lucia looked at me in pain and be- wilderment, as if it were beyond her to understand why boys should be so indiscreet and untimely in asking for information. That winter was a round of doing chores, and going to school. The following summer, working for Henry T. Ellis, brother-in-law of Aunt Lucia, and on the same farm, I actually earned wages -- no less than $25 for the season. Mr. Ellis was a thinking man with an intellectual curiosity about things, one of the few my boyhood knew, and together we discussed weighty subjects as we worked. He used to pooh- pooh the pieties I brought from Sunday school and from the reading of religious papers; but he noted my advancement at school; told me to come around when I reached college age, and he would help me to see how far I could go. But instead of going to college I went into a printing-office. 62 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT The winter following we buried Uncle Eliphaz, who died one day at 88, just after I had filled and lit his last pipe. It was the first time I had come personally into touch with the hour and article of death. The Unitarian "Priest" White of Keene preached the sermon, standing in the doorway be- tween two big rooms of the old farmhouse that was built generations before for a tavern. He read that all the days of man were three score years and ten, or if by reason of strength he be four score, and so on. And then I went out and did the chores and life went on without Uncle Eliphaz. The family was Unitarian. There had once been a Unitarian society in Surry, and this old house held the rem- nants of its small library. The books were too dry for me. 6 -- REMINDERS OF MORTALITY. On the road that ran back of this house, and close by the schoolhouse, the forefathers had walled in a small graveyard, where perhaps fifty of them lay buried. The dates on the slate-colored stones, along with comic 'sculptured angels, ran back into the seventeenth century and seemed to me as remote as creation. One, emigrant was there -- "Samuel Mc- Curdy, born in the north of Ireland, in the county of Antrim and the parish of Abobel." Verses were inscribed appropriate to young and old. For a young woman: "When blooming youth is snatched away By death's resistless hand, We to the dust the tribute pay That pity doth command." FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 63 And the visitor was reminded of his mortality: "As you are now, so once was I" -- Words to humble the proud and to show them they were common clay. The graveyard bank on the side next to the road had been washed by a century of rains, till at least one grave was un- covered, and the small bones came to the surface. @@@@ (line drawing showing a skull in a wall where a stone had been remived and a boy sitting and looking at it.) (caption) THE SKULL IN THE WALL. In time a skull followed, and rather than that it should lie there exposed, all the privacy of the grave invaded, I unearthed the skull completely and placed it in a hole in the wall where a stone had fallen out. While I remained in the neighborhood I went of- ten to visit with that poor Yorick and to muse on what and when he might have been in life. Some- body, doubtless the doctors, had sawed off the top of his head, just as the stem-end of a pumpkin is excised to put in the candle for a jack-lantern. The sawn-off piece was there and could be lifted for a view of the brain cavity. 64 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT On that farm lived a little girl named Mary Ellis, of my own age, who, with her features that were classical except for a nose which naturally turned up a bit, giving her a haughty air in the presence of boys, was a little beauty. But her soft eyes never lit up for me. In the year 1928, like myself, she is living on borrowed time, according to what Priest White read from the Bible at the funer- al of her grandfather. Well, years later Mary took the skull of Poor Yorick from the hole in the wall, put it in a box, and sent it to me in New York. Until I left for San Francisco in '87 it stood on the top of my desk, labeled, "He was a Good Man, but he would talk to the editor." It had disappeared when I returned from the West. What, I wonder, is the social or affective implication of a Skull sent by a young lady to a young man? CHAPTER IV. 1 -- THE TRAVELER'S GHOST. SWINBURNE'S three wreckers, "marriage and death and division," ended my stay with this excellent family. Uncle Eliphaz Field no longer sat in the sunny doorway, holding his cane upright in one hand while by its bent handle he turned it 'round and 'round with the other. He had read nothing, thought time wasted on "printing," and forbid me a candle when I had nothing to do but read. His death was the first break in the house- hold. Then Sarah, his granddaughter, got married and took Aunt Lucia to live with her in Brattleboro, Vermont. An abandoned house in that neighborhood had not been lived in for many years. When last occu- pied, by a family of strangers or foreigners, so the elder people said, a traveler passing that way had taken lodging in the house at nightfall, and had never been seen again. The family soon moved away. That the traveler may have been murdered in his bed, at first a suspicion, grew into a theory and a legend and then was accepted as a fact. Every- body that could deny it had died. Inevitably the ghost of the dead man took possession of the prem- ises; it had indeed been seen at night wandering 65 66 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT through the vacant rooms by the light of a candle carried in its hand. At length, as nobody would live in the house, it was taken down and the lum- ber piled or carried off. But the barn on the prem- ises they left standing, and rather than give up the ghost, the believers averred that the traveler done away with in the house now occupied the barn, as his candle, to be seen shining through the cracks between the boards, proved aplenty. When I stayed in the employ of Uncle Eliphaz, or with his daughter Lucia, they sometimes sent me to the village on an errand, after supper and the chores were over. The village lay a mile and a half away, and the walk there and back took an hour. I enjoyed it greatly. Every boy likes to go to the village. But in the fall, when the days were shortening, it began to be dark before I got home, and I had to pass this "haunted" barn, walking on the other side of the road, of course, yet keeping an eye on the building to see the light the ghost carried. And one night I saw it before I got within ten rods of the place. I had not much courage, day or night, but I had curiosity. I felt willing to see a ghost or anything else if it did not see me first. So I crossed the road, ducked under the rail that was laid across the gap in the stone wall where the "Pair of bars" used to be, and, making no sound with my bare feet, got close to the barn-doors and looked through the crack between them. Then I saw that the light was but a lantern, standing on a box; and seated beside it, on a milking-stool, was an old fellow I knew, husking corn. Well, I had been that kind of a ghost myself, husking corn by FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 67 lantern-light, and I felt cheap. If I had ran away without looking I should have been a believer in ghosts at least until daylight the next morning. 2 -- MOVING ON. But already my next home was in view -- with Aunt Polly Abbott, widow of Daniel, and her in- valid daughter Mary Ann, in a large house a few moments' walk north of Surry village. Aunt Polly, aged and obese, needed a boy to build the fire in the morning, supply the stove with wood, and run her errands. That was about all. There was no continuous work for me, and I went to school. The invalidism of Mary Ann originated in a broken heart. The young man whom she was engaged to marry fell in the Civil War, which seemed to me farther away then than it does now, and left her a maiden forlorn. But Mary Ann was in my opinion the victim of her own romantic ideas that had become a possessive mania and a chronic disease. She was extremely religious; had the minister there to pray with her every week. A modern doctor would have had her out of that bed in a month, and maybe an enterprising minister would have had her in another. The piety of the house- hold found its outward and visible sign in my at- tendance at church, prayer-meetings, and Sunday school, where I made my best record as a student of the New Testament. The teacher of the boys' class, named Herman Streator, asked us to answer this one: "How was it possible for four different men, unacquainted with one another's work, to write the four gospels and make their statements 68 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT agree perfectly?" He was obliged to give the an- swer himself, and he did it perhaps reverently, anyhow under his breath, as though it had been something improper but which a boy ought to know: "It was inspiration. The writers of the gospels were inspired." I trust he spoke in ignorance of the gospels' many inconsistencies. I now feel that I should have liked to put John Remsburg's "The Christ" into his hands, and then, naming four pupils after the evangelists, let him ask questions while the boys answered them according to their gospels. 3 -- I SUFFER OPPRESSION. The life I led at Aunt Polly's was physically enervating. All it meant to me was sawing a little wood, shoveling a good deal of snow, and going for the milk, groceries, and mail. Her devotion to the cooking habit provided me with more food than any boy needs. She had two or three prosperous sons, one of them a big man in the county. Their ad- vice to me when they visited their mother negatived too much exertion in the form of work -- an ob- vious sarcasm unless they referred to my endeavors at the table. Slowly as time passes with the young, those days of ease came at length to an end. A close neighbor named Britton got, that spring, the idea that he could save money by having a boy to do a hired man's work, and he elected me for the experiment. In his barn there was a forty-foot tie-up, with fif- teen bovines to feed, eight of them cows to milk. Cleaning out the stable every morning caused me to FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 69 shovel nigh a cartload of green and very heavy manure. Just ahead loomed the sugaring to be done, and the summer's wood to be sawed. Brit- ton's interests took him much from home, early and late, which signified that Georgie did the chores. Has a boy of 14 the right to milk eight cows? some of them calling for a squeeze that would crack the nib on a scythe snath; others so holding out on him that it was like trying to strip milk from a rope's end? I stayed for the sugaring, wading in deep snow and guiding an ox sled to where the tapped maples dripped their sap into twelve-quart buckets. The days thawed and the nights froze. My @@@@ (line drawing of boy in a shirt and his pants standing alone) (caption) THE BOY WITH THE FROZEN PANTS. trousers, hung on the bedpost when I took them off, would stand alone in the morning. Shoving bare legs into those icy garments -- for that was before I had learned to wear underclothes -- imparted a chill to the nether members. Stockings and boots were never dry. The room I retired to at night by 70 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT the light of a candle showed bare walls except for one work of art, a picture, in pink and green, of a boy, with his surviving parent, visiting his mother's grave beneath a willow tree that wept over it. I hated that damned boy heartily with his trousers tied down and his little plug hat. At this place the food served to me was, for the first time in my life, inferior to that distributed to the rest of the family. Hitherto there had been none of that discrimination, or if so I had been insensible of it. Living, in those environs, was arranged on the principle that one man or woman was as good as another, as regards station. There were no ser- vants, male or female. The male employee on the farm rated as hired man, the female as hired girl, by the old-fashioned called a maid. The man and maid sat at the table, or in the "other room," with the family and with the family's company, being formally and ceremoniously introduced to the lat- ter. The girl would be a neighbor's daughter or the man a neighbor's son. They were never ob- seqtuous, no more than tractable, and at a word of fault-finding they quit. The claim of the undistinguished American that he was as good as anyone else loses its apparent egotism by reason of the American's admission that any other man is as good as he. "To good Ameri- cans," said the Chinese diplomat, Wu Tingfang, "not only are the citizens of America born equal, but the citizens of the world are also born equal." An exception as to station was the "bound" boy. A boy might be hound out to a farmer, working for his keep until he was of age, when FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 71 custom allowed that the man he lived with should give him a hundred dollars and a suit of clothes. While he automatically got his "time" and became his own master at twenty-one, he might forfeit the bonus and have his time earlier. Nobody bothered to treat him differently from the unbound, yet the distinction could be observed. They had an ances- tral repugnance for servitude. Some boys got their time from their fathers instead of waiting for their majority. The old man in that case put a para- graph in the papers saying he would no longer col- lect the boy's wages or be responsible for his debts. One fellow I knew said he wished his dad had done this for him, because, he grumbled, "I was married before I'd got to be twenty-one, and so I never really had my time." An elderly woman, in the position of an aunt and a dependent, took sides with me against an overload of work, here at Britton's, and coming to me sur- reptitiously when I was sawing wood, advised me to "cut stick and run." I cut the stick I was work- ing on, and then, feeling sorry for myself, began to blubber. With that spell of weeping I took leave of my childhood, even as I took leave of Mr. Britton. 4 -- JUST KEEPING STEADY AT IT. As always, a place was provided for me and Wait- ing, and as one liberated from servitude I went. I had been a misfit in that environment. From my stay there I cannot recover a single incident to be recreated as a pleasant recollection. Such is not 72 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT true of the others, and I would delight to go back to any of them if I could. That Britton proposi- tion was like the illustrious cold potato with no warm side. I dropped down the road a mile or two and worked that season out for Edmund Wood- ward, a solid and sedate old agriculturist with a gem of a farm. Nothing there dimmed the bright visions of one who took life for a picnic. The old man required only that, having started to work for him, I should "keep steady at it." He observed hours of labor, as was not the rule on farms. He began the day at 5 o'clock in the morning and ended it by knocking off at 6 P.M., two hours before sundown in summer time. At this house, when days were long, there was "baiting," that is, eating between meals. Mrs. Woodward shot food aboard the table in a way to make the eyes stick out first, and then the waistband -- good food, well cooked, and plenty of it. Mr. Woodward called her Mother. About the house he conducted himself like an obedient boy. I conceived she needed correction for scraping iron cooking utensils with a silver spoon that had got worn out of its original ovoid form by such usage; but no man ever changed a woman's way of doing her work. Mrs. Woodward said "Humph!" and that was all. She kept on scraping the cooking utensils with her thin silver spoons. If her silverware passed to any of her descendants, they will know why one edge of her spoons is straight. They said of Mr. Woodward that he was saving of his money, yet for a New Hampshire farmer saving is a defensive instinct. He was just to me, if not generous. His birthday FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 73 fell on the Fourth of July. No one would believe he gave me the day and bought me the powder to celebrate the anniversary of independence, and technically he did not. When I told him I wanted to celebrate his birthday, he bought me the powder. It followed that, with a double-barreled shotgun of large caliber, I awoke the countryside at earliest dawn. While he was not quite a link with the past century, Mr. Woodward remembered the cold sum- mer of 1817, when the hands in the hayfield shel- tered themselves from the chilling winds by sitting on the sunny side of a bank to eat their baiting. Woodward, with his tuning-fork and his musical "do," pitched the tune for the church choir. An- other hand working for him awhile that summer was Joe Jolly, who divertingly turned handsprings @@@@ (line drawing of two boys, one doing handsprings) (caption) JOE TURNED HANDSPRINGS. on his way to the hayfield or did horizontal bar work on the pole across the big barndoors. I simply 74 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT revered him. And yet Joe never was a mere gym- nast. "No," he said, "when I followed the circus I was the Chandelier." I assumed a Chandelier might be an Entertainer, perhaps a Vocalist. He indeed had a song which he sang with feeling: "The spring had come, the flowers had bloomed, The birds sang out their lay; Down by the littul running brook, I first saw Maggie May. . . . Singing all the day How I loved her none can tell Littul Maggie May." In after years I inquired of another ex-circus man what duties went with the title or decoration of Chandelier. He replied that the Chandelier took care of the lamps and hauled them up the center pole, of the tent to illuminate an evening's per- formance. Here, to the house of Woodward, his grandfather, came by coincidence the Sanger boy and his sister, now of Boston, who had been schoolmates with me ten years before. Their cousin, a large fat girl, took her vacation with the old folks at the same time. I stared at the girls without lighting a re- ciprocating eye. The boy came to me one day with the story that the girls were dressed in boys' clothes, the Sanger girl in her brother's, and the other, I supposed, in my Sunday suit, which young Sanger intimated she overflowed. Unhappily, I missed sight of that innocent masquerade, and the regret I nour- ished has never been assuaged. Today a fat girl poured into a pair of trousers, or knickers, is no sight that a man or boy would go far out of his FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 75 way to view. All things come to him who waits, though they may not come up to expectations, for age never compensates the lost opportunities of youth. I learn that the Sanger boy is now a resi- dent of Jamaica Plain, Boston. 5 -- OVER THE HILL TO EAST WESTMORELAND. My wages that summer were $10 per month. Having seen Mr. Woodward pay the money to my uncle, and then forgotten it, I light-heartedly trav- eled five miles in a westerly direction to earn $25 more by working over winter for Deacon Jonathan Shelley of the London district in East Westmore- land. It was hilly country. The early farmers anywhere near the Connecticut settled on the hills to avoid contact with the Indians, who made expe- ditions up and down the river. Here I gained some schooling also while school kept, with Millie Aldrich for teacher. I think of the able Millie with re- spect; for it fell out that on that day when I got into a fight with Wallace Keyser, a boy of my own age and size, and a tough nut at that, and was on the point of going to the floor with him, Millie grabbed one of us in each hand and flung Wallace one way and me the other. Wallace grinned as we recovered ourselves; but Millie was pouting and her mouth wore a smile on only one side; for on putting forth whatever horse power per minute she registered, she had ripped a sleeve of her dress at the armpit. That school is one of the considerable number of those country institutions where I spent a few weeks with my books that have long since been 76 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT abandoned and let fall into decay, or have entirely disappeared, leaving none but a few gray heads, apart from fading maps and records, to retain the knowledge they imparted, or to testify to the fact that they ever existed. Jonathan Shelley happened to be the first deacon I had ever worked for, and the last. He was a tremendously long-armed and long-legged individ- ual, with a short backbone and a rather small head at the top of it. His church, Christian by denomi- nation -- the first syllable pronounced Christ, the same as when that name is used alone -- stood in the Flat, down the hill less than half a mile away, and had as settled pastor the Rev. Jehiel Claflin. I enjoyed the religious privileges of that sanctuary. The deacon conducted family worship in the front room of his house every Sunday morning, and often on rainy days. He always read substan- tially the same scriptures, selecting that chapter of the book of Matthew which says that these shall go away into everlasting life and those into eternal damnation. The chapter treats of the occasion when Jesus shall sit as a coroner over the spiritual remains of mortals who are divided upon his right hand and upon his left, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats. Those on the left were the goats. Having thus segregated them, Jesus said to the sheep on the one hand: "Come, ye blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world"; and to the other moiety: "Depart from me, ye cussed [so pronounced by Deacon Shelley], into everlastin' fire prepared for the devils and his anngels." (He said ann.) FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 77 The deacon seldom got out of this chapter. And having read the scriptures he knelt and prayed, with his elbows in the chair where his seat had been. He looked a good deal like a capital Z turned around and pushed up to the chair, save and except that his feet were larger in proportion than the serifs at the end of that letter. He thanked the Lord that we were still alive and on praying grounds and interceding terms for mercy. "We thank thee," he would say, "that thou hast so far spared our un- profitable lives that we live to see the comin' of another of thy Sabbath mornin's. We thank thee that while others have been stretched upon beds of sickness, we have been permitted to enjoy a tollable degree of health. ... Hear us in these our feeble supplications. Grant us each favor as we ask it as far as is consistent with thy will; and finally save us in thy comin' kingdom, there to praise God and the lamb, world without end. Amen." Those phrases were his reliance. In the course of the prayer he asked God to bless "our wife" and urged the merciful Christ to delay his judgment on the recreant youth there present who was carelessly putting off acceptance of the begotten son of God as his personal savior. Out of curiosity I once asked Deacon Shelley if he thought I should go to hell, and he gave me to understand that he was quite certain of it. Deacon Shelley had a workshop where, in earlier times, he had made ox bows, casks, buckets, and piggins. A piggin is a small wooden bucket, of capacity from two quarts to a gallon, with one stave sticking up far enough to be used as a handle. His 78 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT chief output in my day was axe helves and hammer handles, his steady market being the Cheshire Rail- road. The helves and handles used in that vicinity bore his brand, "J.S.", or "C.W.", which latter stood for Chandler Wilbur, husband of the Walpole lady addicted to four-letter words. Choppers gravely discussed the reasons for preferring the J.S. or the C.W. axe-helve. Reeving, hewing, shav- ing, scraping, and sandpapering these articles was rainy-day and evening work. By such creative in- dustry I earned what Deacon Shelley paid me for allowing him to board me and send me to school. The various handles I made were so like his that no one could tell the difference. I sledded the bolts for them from a distance; went with him into an adjacent swamp to cut the black-ash saplings to be split into barrel hoops. While gathering the little black ashes I came near witnessing the fall from grace of Deacon Shelley; for I knew and he knew that we were poaching on Daniel Aldrich's prem- ises; and more than that, in cutting the little trees so low that the stumps would not appear, he chopped into a rock with his best axe, and uttered the oath, "By heavens!" 6 -- NEW AND TRUE LIGHT ON CHURCHES. The church at the Flat had its large day when a preacher named Emerson Andrews came from somewhere "below." Points south were below, and going to Massachusetts was "going down below." This man came and conducted the services, and none of the congregation remained away. A circus could FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 79 scarcely have drawn better than this eccentric preacher. From the time and place of its origin I have calculated that, he belonged to the same family as Stephen Pearl Andrews of New York, who was raised in Hinsdale. An excellent farmer's wife named Andrews in that locality had sons who were approaching manhood sixty or seventy years ago, or so the story goes; and when she was asked about their prospects, she replied that the outlook for all but one of them was far from bright for only the oldest was worth anything on the farm. The next oldest son threw his time away reading books, an- other had begun clerking in a lawyer's office with small promise of making anything of himself; the third sawed on a fiddle from morning till night, and the fourth, expecting to be a minister, was calling worthless sinners to repentance already. So she had but the one promising son out of the "passle," the son who stayed at home and worked the land. The rest of the story of this Andrews family tells that the bookish boy became the presi- dent of a university (E. Benjamin Andrews); the law clerk governor of Connecticut; the fiddler a great musician known in Europe and America; and the one with a hortatory complex, if the story is authentic, might be identified as this Emerson An- drews who preached at the Flat. I listened to him, but don't remember a word he said. What I dis- tinctly recollect is that he sat in the pulpit before the afternoon meeting began and sang: 80 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT "Blow ye the trumpet, blow, The gladly solemn sound; Let every nation know, To earth's remotest bound, The year of jubilee has come, Return, ye ransomed sinners, home." That was more than half a century ago, and the hymn may have been sung for half a century be- fore then. There was no sign of the jubilee that season, nor has any been seen since. It was a false alarm. There was no observable correspondence between the subjective order of thought and the objective order of phenomena; but in religious things there never is. In that town of Hinsdale, pronounced Hensdil, whence the preacher came, a mill or factory stood beside the Ashuelot river. One of its hands, a young woman deriving her inspiration from the turbulent stream, turned out a quite well known poem while employed there. The poem began: "Over the river they beckon to me, Loved ones who've crossed to the farther side: The gleam of their snowy robes I see, But their voices are lost in the rushing tide." The river which was the Ashuelot ran downhill rapidly at that point, in a hurry to empty its waters into the Connecticut, and was indeed noisy enough to interrupt conversation. No trace of Catholicism appeared in any of the places where I lived, outside of Keene; but Keene was a city, and all degraded forms of humanity gather in those haunts of iniquity. However, at the Flat was an Irish section hand (employed by FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 81 the Cheshire Railroad), who knew all about it and could tell me how "these here Prodestant churches" stood as compared with the true one. He had asked whether I ever had been baptized, and learning I had not, shook his head sadly and repeated, "Too bad, too bad, too bad!" Of course I asked why. "I will tell you, said this man, whose name I dis- remember except that it was Pat. "Ye see, it is this way. The Catholic church is the spouse of Jasus Christ, and Jasus is no Mormon to have more than one wife. Yer mother was yer father's wife, wasn't she, and what would other women be if he had 'em? They'd be just what all the churches be except the true one -- they're all hoors." Residents of those rural areas knew of Catholicism as "the Irish religion," distinguishing it from Christianity. George Patten of Westmoreland more than once uttered the prediction that if there was ever another war in this country, it would be, by Godfrey, be- tween these two, Christianity and Catholicism. This man George Patten at times fell into profane and unlicensed anecdotes and speech. He was, I think, the author of a story about the deathbed of Ethan Allen. Anyhow, he told it. As it ran, the minister said comfortingly to the dying man: "The angels are waiting for you, Colonel Allen." And the hero of Ticonderoga shot at the ghostly coun- sellor the last beam of his closing eye as he re- sponded: "Well, God damn 'em, let 'em wait." Colonel Allen lived to utter a few more mild cuss words, and then passed to his reward. Knowledge of the institution of the papacy had escaped my inquiring mind until I was ten years 82 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT old. The geography used in the school that sum- mer asked the question, "For what is the city of Rome distinguished?" The pupils who answered said: "As the residence of the Pope." That word "pope" raised a laugh. None of us had intent to show disrespect toward the sovereign pontiff, what- ever he might be, but that word pope was irresist- ibly funny. The fellow wearing the title vaguely existed in my thought for a moment as a superior kind of magician, an entertainer, because he gave audiences, which idea was again obscure to me; or a man rather more like God than the ringmaster at the circus with his high hat and swallowtail coat. Hence, when a year or two later the Vatican council affirmed the dogma of the pope's infallibility and my mother sent to the New Hampshire Sentinel some comments on that subject, I must suffer in silence while the ribald made merry over the locu- tion "infallibility of the pope," which seemed to me just letters of the alphabet spilt on paper. CHAPTER V. 1 -- THE DEACON AND I. DEACON SHELLEY stimulated a boy's en- ergies and accelerated production at his hands by praising him. Mrs. Shelley be- lieved that the more a boy ate the more work he would do. I trust I justified their methods. I knew not then what it meant to be tired after a day's work. One might be tired while working; but when a man complained, "I'm tired tonight," after work was over, I missed the sense of the remark. Tired, and doing nothing! It was too much for me. Work and weariness went together, but they ended at the same time. The deacon, when chores were done, could doze in his chair; I craved diversion, excite- ment, and found both at Thompson's general store down to the Flat, where men and boys gathered for exchange of thoughts and competition in feats of strength and agility. Deacon Shelley viewed this dissipation as the beginning of the downward path towards perdition; yet as all hired men were sup- posed to have their liberty evenings, he lacked au- thority to forbid my going there or even my atten- ding a dancing school on Mutton Hill; tuition 25 cents a lesson; music by Ambrose & Higgins's Orchestra. That was a one-piece orchestra; the performer, Am- brose Higgins, fiddler. The Deacon refused me an 83 85 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT advance of two dollars for lessons, on the ground that it would make him party to a form of frivolity if not of sin. Still, I found the money where some- one had put it, on the lightstand by my bed, and asked no questions. The pupils at the dancing school were young. The girls, slender and uncor- seted, seemed too soft and fragile for rough hands to grab in the hurried turning of partners and cor- ners. There were, however, no injuries among them traceable to that cause. Having been raised sister- less, I had no familiar knowledge of the nature of girls. Thoughts were engendered in my mind by hearing one say to her partner: "I don't like to be swung off my feet -- not clear off, only almost, not quite." As to girls without their encircling bar- ricades, I doubt they donned them at that time as young as they now put on the next-to-nothing cor- set. On a vacation ten years later, I went to town with a farmer who had a daughter of 16 or 17. While he did his trading at the store, I asked him to suggest some useful gift of remembrance I might send home to his folks. Falling in with the idea as a good one, he remembered that the little girl had been talking lately about a pair of corsets, so long as other girls of her age were wearing them; hence he concluded, "I dunno but what they'd suit better'n anything else you could buy." I bought em, along with a bag of candy, binding him to say only the candy was my contribution to the happiness of his little girl. The town spelling schools were held there on Mutton Hill. A school teacher, two ministers, and FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 85 a doctor went down at the one I contested, and left me spelling words selected from the familiar Latin and French phrases in the back part of the book. @@@@ (photo-engraving of a serious looking young man) (caption) COMING SIXTEEN AND SPELLING GOOD. "Who loosened and let down this brutal jaw? Whose was the hand that slanted back that brow? Whose breath blew out the light within this brain? The term with Deacon Shelley went far enough into the spring of 1873 for me to help him shingle his wagon shed, a half-roofed building annexed to the barn. The job had a thrilling finish. The dea- con nailed on the last course of shingles, tied them with a narrow board beveled and nailed down, and had unshipped all the staging but one bracket toed into the shingles, when his feet escaped from be- neath him and he sprawled face downward on the 86 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT roof, catching hold of that last bracket to save him- self from going over the eaves. At the moment this befell, I was some distance away, carrying the old shingles into the woodshed. I heard his yell; saw what had happened, and slowly moved toward the scene. The ladder, which he repetitiously ordered me to fetch, was leaning against the eaves a dozen, feet from where those large extremities of his were waving in an impossible attempt to reach it. As there seemed to be no immediate danger that he would let go of the bracket, and as he was per- fectly safe while he held on, I continued to move with moderation. I sensed that I was in the pres- ence of a situation promising much that could be communicated to the neighbors with advantage to my reputation, as a recounter. The faculty of ob- servation and description which afterwards was to help me as reporter, then and there began to de- velop. I lingered to fix in my mind such features of this occasion as I thought would be most appre- ciated by Uncle Lewis Aldrich and old Zeke Wood- ward, who lived up the street and were prone to draw me out on the traits and peculiarities of Uncle Jock (for so they called my employer). Meanwhile the Deacon on the roof demanded the ladder with his voice and searched for it with his feet. Hav- ing placed the ladder where it touched him, I leis- urely ascended it, noting by the way how the view off toward Mount Gilboa and Albert Chickering's place improved as I gained altitude. Then, arriv- ing at the proper height, I assembled Uncle Jock's feet and put them on the nearest round. Now the FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 87 doubt arose in his mind that he could let go his hold on the bracket and not slide against the ladder with enough impetus to tip it over backwards. He referred the question to my judgment. One could see, I reflected, that the factors of the problem were force, motion, and equilibrium. If in sliding to the eaves he gathered force enough to impart motion to the ladder, disturbing its equilibrium and carrying it past its center, then its top, with him on it, would describe an arc over the lane and above the wall on the other side and land him in the Greening tree, when he could come down out of its top in the way we did last fall when we picked the apples. "Consarn yon, you young tyke," said the Deacon, "you go to work and shore up the ladder with one of them long boards." I did better by bringing a trace-chain and making the ladder fast to a tie-ring stapled to the corner of the building. With his feet on the ground again he sent me up to pry the bracket off the roof. He had the impulse, he owned, to carry off the ladder and leave me up there. 2 -- A DIGRESSION. When I wrote the name of Albert Chickering a few moments ago, my mind strayed far from the incident then being related. Yes, over west across the valley, off the Gully road, on the brow of Mount Gilboa, lived Albert Chickering, a most substantial citizen, who had more cattle, they said, than he ever stopped to count, and owned, as they also said, "all the land that joined him." Does the unpredictable 88 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT occur? Does it? About fifteen years later I was in line to be Albert's son-in-law, and silk for the wedding gown was in hand when the lure of pub- lishing a paper in San Francisco put the breadth of a continent between me and a very sweet girl who had courage stronger than her family's confi- dence in my future. She would almost have been a man's fortune in herself, for the Chickerings were thrifty and forehanded property-acquiring people. The girls taught school and invested their pay. This one married in due time, raised a family of bright children and died some years ago. One of her boys and one of mine were fellow gobs in the navy in 1917. They called each other cousin. When Albert Chickering was an old man (he lived past ninety), he went to hear Ingersoll lecture. I judged that the lecture to which he had listened was "Which Way?" the one that closes with a vis- ion of the future and a picture of the present, thus: "I see a world at war, and in the storm and chaos of the deadly strife thrones crumble,, altars fall, chains break creeds change. The highest peaks are touched with holy light. The dawn has blossomed. I look again. I see discoverers sailing across mys- terious seas. I see inventors cunningly enslave the forces of the world. I see the houses being built for schools. Teachers, interpreters of nature, slowly take the place of priests. Philosophers arise, thinkers give the world their wealth of brain and lips grow rich with words of truth." When asked how these sentiments fell in with his habit of thought, Mr. Chickering answered: FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 89 "Gosh! Bob Ingersoll said just what I've been saying all my life; and darned if he didn't say it in the same words." 3 -- IT SAVED FIREWOOD, ANYHOW. Uncle Lewis Aldrich who is mentioned above as one who drew amusement from hearing of the notional ways of "Uncle Jock," was kin, probably uncle, to Nelson Aldrich, the Rhode Island poli- tician who, having in time got into the United States Senate, provided some place such as doorkeeper for another nephew, one Wes Aldrich, then our neigh- bor. In the days of the Fourth New York Liberal League I read before that society a paper on "New England and the People Up There." Into that youthful forensic effort I introduced the story how, when I drew the cider one evening there at Deacon Shelley's, and when melted tallow, dropping from the candle into the piggin, floated on the surface of the cider, an old fellow said to me: "I wish the next time you would bring the cider in one thing and the tarler in another, and let me mix 'em to suit myself." That was Uncle Lewis. All the old fellows were uncles or aunts to young and aged. He spent many a winter evening in Aunt Nancy Shelley's kitchen, 'droning over the topics of the times, past and present. I was reading a book by "Boz" (be- hind which name Dickens had concealed from me his authorship of the work) and I looked up at hear- ing Uncle Lewis's comment on Aunt Nancy's re- mark that a baby just born in the neighborhood 90 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT was "a long time coming" -- two or three years after the parents were married to each other. Uncle Lewis had said to Aunt Nancy: "It's different now to what it was. There ain't a man on this road but what didn't have his wife in a thrivin' way be- fore he married her." Mrs. Shelley smiled at the stocking she was darning. The deacon didn't smile at anything. I promptly asked: "How about Uncle Daniel Abbott, over in Surry? He lived on this road when he was married." Uncle Lewis waved his hand: "Same as the rest." The answer surprised and disappointed me. I didn't believe it. I had heard Aunt Polly go on about such doings; and I told Uncle Lewis I guessed if he knew what she said of girls that set the neigh- bors to talking about them, he would think differ- ent. For to tell the truth Aunt Polly said, "The sluts!" whereat her daughter Mary Ann would turn wide-open eyes on me as being present, and check her with an admonitory "Mother!" But Aunt Polly was only doing her duty. How could the old edify the young except by pointing out that their conduct is unprecedented? But the method isn't infallible, since the young, by reading or thinking, find out that their respected elders, now so ready to give advice, were once at the less blessed receiving end them-selves. Parents who inform their children they didn't carry on like that when they were young, mean only that they were told they shouldn't. To all young girls among my descendants who may be picked on I bequeath this: FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 91 Take heart, dear child; or should you chance to stumble, While contrite toward yourself, don't be too humble When parents are severe and elders grumble: "Such things weren't done by lassies with their laddies When we were young -- such holding and such petting!" They tell it thus, conveniently forgetting What cut-ups were the grandmas and grand- daddies. I ran over mentally, the names of the elder off- spring begotten of this custom of their sires to which Uncle Lewis had recurred. They were then from fifty to sixty years old, setting back their births to 1820 and earlier. Aunt Polly's animadver- sions on the growing-up girls proclaimed her one in habit and sentiment with all generations before and since. No generation can grant anything to the crop of youngsters it is raising. Listen to this! In one of the plays of Vanbrugh (b. 1664) the vir- tuous Mrs. Cloggit exclaims: "Look you there now; to see what the youth of this age are come to." The lady was speaking of the youth of the seven- teenth century -- the century of our Puritan fore- fathers. And another of the same date protested: "Girls were not wont to do such things when I was young." Uncle Lewis, whose age linked him with the pre- vious century, had knowledge of an old custom practiced in rural New England, and divulged to 92 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT him partly by his forebears and somewhat by obser- vation, called "bundling." Theodore Schroeder, who has written much useful matter tracing the erotogenesis of religion, thinks this practice relig- ious in its origin. It may be, and yet one can see how easily it might arise out of the conditions, the necessities, and the opportunities of rural districts two hundred or more years ago in those states. Leaving out the side remarks and the individual in- stances, I will see if sense can be made of Uncle Lewis Aldrich's rambling discourse on bundling, delivered to me on an evening when I worked in the shop scraping and sandpapering axe handles. In the first place (so he premised) they used to marry younger than they do now. Before the oldest boy was of age his folks began to talk about his bringing home a wife. The girl he wanted might live a long ways off. Getting home again after spending half the night courting her was a hardship and might be "resky." Said Mr. Aldrich: "I've seen 'em goin' home at sunup myself. If the girl's folks favored the match they didn't object to his resignin' himself to her society till the mornin' light appeared. The bundling may have been done partly to make them safe and partly to keep them warm without burning up all the firewood." Here the use of large sacks or sleeping bags is inferred, and you see the par- ents dropping the sacks on the floor in front of the young folks, who step into them, and the tops are brought up and made fast at the neck. Uncle Lewis believed they were oftener rolled up in quilts. "Maybe their hands were out," he said, "I don't FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 93 know." It was expected of them that they would go to sleep and be in shape for work the next day. No, the fellow didn't stay to breakfast. That warn't done. One of the old folks came around early and turned him loose. The fellows then made a short siege of it, Uncle Lewis said. Her folks were not going to all that trouble for six months or a year when there was nothing to prevent the young ones from getting married. So they would leave them by themselves and not go nigh them. "They might have bundled each other," he surmised, "I dunno. Folks can generally depend on a girl to make a fel- low behave till they are about ready to be married. And a young fellow without any experience thinks he is favored a lot if she lets him hold her. Take a sofa, not a settee that is nothin' but a wooden chair stretched out, and mother's big shawl, and no mat- ter then if the fire does go out. But if they hain't these, and the courtin' wood is all burnt up, and the fellow works his boots off and takes off her shoes, why, the girl don't like him much or don't want him if she makes any great kick when he picks her up and carries her to her bed, and they get un- der the coverlids and keep warm. They got on all their clothes except what they had on their feet. Oh, I don't suppose they bundled except in winter. The sofa done for summer time. I remember when I was courtin' my wife that sometimes we'd fall into a clinch and go to sleep. No. I never was bundled, but I can guess how it turned out. That there way the two on 'em would get to be jest like one person, and resistin' him would be the same as 94 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT resistin' of herself, which is a delusion. What's the odds? They got married." The records are said to show that the Puritans frowned upon bundling and its natural consequences. But the arm of Puritanism was not long enough to reach districts remote from Puritan centers. The ob- jectors were bundled into their graves, and their be- spoken daughters and sisters still throve. No stigma attached to the past of families on London Road, although their descendants followed other counsels. Good people may make their own customs, and their lives vindicate them. I had preserved Mr. Schroeder's treatise on bun- dling as of religious origin for insertion at this point, but I cannot make his theory fit the facts as they were imparted to me. Part of the treatise on the subject in Woodward's "Washington" is more ap- plicable. Woodward say,: "The nights were cold; there was usually only one fireplace, before which all the family sat. Squalling children and prosy old men cluttered the stage and made love's tender pas- sages very difficult, if not impossible. But under the warm blankets in the darkness of the bed room, conversation was much more pleasant and decidedly easier." Mr. Woodward's further quotations on the theme descend to ribaldry, and I cannot follow him. As one who in his youth performed much irksome labor in the preparation of fuel for stove and hearth, I am inclined to view bundling as a justifi- able recourse to save firewood. FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 95 4 -- BROTHER TO THE OX. In the spring of 1873, having turned 16, I com- manded wages of $16 per month for the season, May-October inclusive. The situation had waxed serious. When every day meant half a dollar to the employer, or more than that counting out Sundays, one was expected to deliver the goods in the shape of service and performance. So from Deacon Shel- ley's I went down the hill and on beyond the Flat, and worked for Gene Fuller. Three generations composed the family: Christopher Fuller and his wife -- he was, a carpenter engaged in building a barn on the County Farm; Gene and his wife, and their children. Gene proved to be a boyish man who would rather stop and throw stones at a mark than assiduously cultivate crops. The farm was a large one; the soil fertile; the pasture ran further up on Mount Gilboa than I ever explored. Sheep, cattle, and turkeys flourished. That summer I learned to shear sheep. I have not since had enough use for the accomplishment to atone for the pain that Fuller's flock suffered at my hands. I harbored always a friendly feeling for oxen and they were patient with me. When quite a small boy I had been sent into the barnyard to yoke a pair of cattle that weighed about sixteen hundred each, and towered a foot or more above my head. To yoke oxen one withdraws the right-hand bow from the yoke and carries it in his fist, while with the yoke and the undetached bow under his left arm, he approaches the off ox. The ox, which may be lying down, erects himself slowly, hind end first, and looks pla- 96 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT cidly and not with disfavor at this insect that has interrupted his restful period. The insect hooks this off ox with the bow, which is like the letter U, and pulls the top toward him far enough almost to twist off the animal's head, so that the open ends of the bow may be inserted and pinned into the yoke, which he is not strong enough to raise to a level. The insect then goes to the other end of the yoke, elevates it, and takes out the other bow. Hav- ing hooked the off ox, as aforesaid, he looks around for the near one. That animal has been an interested @@@@ GOOD FRIENDS spectator of the proceedings so far, and when he sees the insect making frantic demonstrations to- ward himself with the empty bow, he sighs and moves forward, even lowering his head to lift the yoke, in contempt of the insect's effort to raise it to the level of his neck. The oxen may have mis- taken the insect for a calf because of its knock- FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 97 kneed legs resembling their front ones. He gives the word in a small voice which he tries to make a large one, and the oxen humor him by moving ahead and letting him think he is driving them. In Maine they handled oxen with a goad, a four- foot whipstock with a quarter-inch brad in the smaller end. The cruelty of its use caused me dis- tress when I was yet very small, and I never forgot it. As in some ways the hired farm hand is brother to the ox, I became class conscious without knowing economics. NOTE. -- OUT of a letter from a New Hampshire girl who long has been a grandmother I purloin a few words: "I think grandpa and aunt had quite a trial one winter when you and I were with them. 'George, have you watered the horse?' -- 'Sarah, have you got the potatoes?' 'No,' and it was every day. You loved to read and I loved to play. That was long ago." Yes, it has been quite a spell since that winter. "George, have you watered the horse?" says grandpa. He asked again in an hour whether I said No or Yes. Sarah loved to play, certainly; she loved to laugh also, and she had the lips and the teeth to make a good deed shine in a naughty world. I married a girl who laughed like Sarah. That old horse was a white one that gave a close imi- tation of a snowstorm when shedding his coat, unless I "carded" him with care and vigor. And we hitched him up to an ancient "pleasure wagon," or so grandpa called the vehicle used for driving rather than farming pur- poses. I was sometimes privileged to "carry" Sarah in it. There was room for four like us on its wide seat. On one occasion, as we drove away, a girl without feel- ing or manners observed that we looked as if we were "going off to get married." And Sarah laughed. I hope she is laughing still. 98 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 4 -- THE WORTHY ELLIOTT WEYMAN. On this road where my sixteenth season "fleeted" by (talk of the fleeting days of youth, they are the longest in life's calendar) a man lived named Elliott Weyman who was the first person I had ever heard to question the truth of the Bible and the justice of the God whose biography it contains. They called Mr. Weyman a spiritualist. Every doubter was a "spiritualist" to the church people there, who seemed not to have heard of any other unbelievers in the Christian religion than these and the heathen in distant lands. His skepticism had been excited by reading the book of Job. The devil harassed Job, he owned, but God "put him up to it." All of the afflictions of men, said Mr. Weyman to me, were due to the trickery and treachery of God, who also let his own son fall into the hands of his enemies,' and then, forsook him. Weyman regarded the fu- ture life of the individual as problematical; hence those Christians who were worrying about their title to the mansions they placed in the skies might be "barking up the wrong tree." On the other hand, the continued existence of people here on earth was assured by their propensity to reproduce them- selves; therefore, any act, large or small, which im- proved the world was that much clear gain for the people. So Mr. Weyman, following out the thought spent the last years of his life in planting small pine trees on some acres of his land that were too steep for cultivation. It was pure philanthropy, for he could not hope to live until the trees grew large enough to add value to the land. Weyman, FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 99 when his time came, was buried near the grove he had created. I saw his trees about 1914. They had grown up tall and straight, some of them near a foot through at the butt. His little saplings had become a stand of pine, a worthy memorial to a worthy man. Of this season's experience, or want of it, there is nothing to report. There could be no story here except one of long days laboriously spent and obliv- ious nights. Late rising invited sarcasm. When my brother, employed in a printing-office, informed me that he went to work at 7 A.M., I inquired what he did with his spare time in the morning. An inci- dent of this summer was my oversleeping once and hearing a querulous voice under my window inquire whether I cal'lated to stay in bed all day. Said the voice: "Come on, get up; it's 5 o'clock!" I was half an hour behind time. That season, for the first time, I went into the hayfield with a scythe, on equal terms with men; first cradled and bound oats and rye. The cradle was no new-fangled imple- ment; on the contrary, quite ancient; yet some farmers there were who still reaped their grain with a sickle to save the stalk from breakage. Straw with its integrity so preserved commanded a sale for use in sucking lemonade. Farmers raised corn for the sake of the grain; women would not make brown-bread or johnnycake with Western meal. The era preceded the intro- duction of the silo and the planting of corn to be cut when green, chopped and stored therein to feed milk cows. The furniture of barns included 100 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT a "feed cutter" designed to prepare meals for horses. Came the thrashing machine and that later contraption, the hay press, with their crews of wild young men sophisticated by wide travel -- they'd been in every town in the county, pretty near, they boasted. In Denman Thompson's "Old Homestead," Uncle Josh Whitcomb, who lived in Swanzey, next to Keene, says to a young man: "John, I was a wild coot when I was your age. Yes, sir. Ran with a thrashin'-machine three years!" The hay- pressing gang were equally untamed. They went as far north as Bellows Falls and south even to Fitzwilliam. One of them skinned me by selling me a watch, on which, the cases not proving to be of solid gold, I was out three dollars. 5 -- MY STATION RISES I left the Fuller place, in the fall, with a flourish, in a very neat rig, a nimbly stepping roan horse and a single-leaf side-spring buggy, driven by Em- erson Franklin, who had hooked me for the winter. This Franklin was a bachelor of near 50, who lived alone in a house he owned at Westmoreland village, doing his own housework and cutting men's clothes and hair. He offered no pay and required no ser- vice of me except taking care of his horse. What he wanted of a boy I didn't understand, as more than an hour a day spent on a horse would be idle time. I found out after I had been with him for a while. He had an epileptic seizure of a night, when all his muscles tied themselves into knots and had to be smoothed out. The first scare over, I came to view the infrequent seizures calmly as part of the job. FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 101 I remained with Franklin for two years; and this proved, as it were, the life. The days were free; after dark the boys came for company and to play eucher. He cut my clothes and taught me straight handsewing evenings and rainy days. By way of outside employment there were teams to be driven, wood to be sawed, and always farm work in sea- son. The cordwood that I reduced to stove length filled large sheds. Old Doctor Simmons's work, most of which I did, included the sawing of ten cords of wood. The doctor prepared a nervine known as prickly ash bitters, a favored restorative in the hayfield. Traffic in it supplemented his prac- tice and the sale of clocks. When clocks first be- gan to be actuated by springs instead of weights, a good-sized mantel clock sold for twenty dollars. A younger physician had the practice in the village. The old Doc played it rather low down on me once, I thought and still think. A man who lived a mile out of town owed him a hundred dollars, borrowed money, and he sent me to see if I could collect it, with instructions to say that the doctor stood very much in need of the sum. The debtor was a deacon in the Congregational church, but sometimes called Colonel. Deacon was his Sunday title; Colonel his secular and military handle. They told of him the story that when he went to Concord as representa- tive of the town, a Westmoreland woman at the capital saw him joining some other members in a drink of milk punch; and when she taxed him with the indulgence, he replied with dignity, and to her satisfaction: "Madam, I have never in my life 102 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT taken liquor except as a beverage." Well, when I faced him with the request that he should liquidate Dr. Simmons's note, he was all the Colonel and the Statesman. "Young man," he said, "when I needed the sum of one hundred dollars, I went and borrowed it. You may return to Dr. Simmons and say I advise him to do the same." In Westmoreland I came near losing my head, with the bell of the Unitarian church as the exe- @@@@ THIS OLD CHURCH cutioner. Will Barber, the minister's son, was pul- ling the rope, "setting" the bell; that is, turning it mouth upward. When he eased off on the rope the bell came down and did its stuff with a loud double clang. Being ignorant of how this effect was pro- duced, and wishing to learn, I climbed to the belfry and put my head through an aperture into the bell's apartment. The bell rope lay in a groove on the outer circumference of a big wheel, or spoked sheave, with the bell depending from its shaft. Pul- ling on the rope turned the sheave and oscillated FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 103 the noise producer. In introducing my head I must have thrust it between the spokes. The bell being "set" and at rest, I devoted a few seconds to in- spection. Then a loud creak startled me and I backed out. The bell was returning. The descend- ing spoke of the sheave took my cap, but I got away with my head. On two occasions I naturally ought to have been obliterated. The first one happened in old man Brockway's sawmill in the South end of Surry. He @@@@ BROCKWAY'S MILL ran an up-and-down saw seried with ferocious teeth an inch long. I turned in to help him saw some saplings that were so slender that, teetering with the motion of the saw, they must be sat upon to control the vibration. Brockway went to dinner and left me sawing. The work had no difficulties, for the saw stopped automatically at the end of the cut, "niggering back" was a simple if thrilling adventure, and the log could be moved over for the next cut 104 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT by raising and lowering a lever, while starting the saw required nothing but putting the foot on a wooden pin and bearing down. Continuous sitting on the buckin, saplings, however, tended to weary the flesh. It also made the mind less alert, for when Brockway came back he found me astride a log, gazing intently at the teeth of the saw as each stroke brought me an inch nearer to them, and utterly oblivious of anything else. He grabbed my arm and yanked me off the log, when I had come within a few ups and downs of having my head split open. Three times and out, considered as a rule, scores a failure here. There are exceptions to all rules. I escaped once more. Behold me carting phosphate, with a yoke of cattle, from the North Depot to East Westmoreland, and having a dozen barrels aboard, weighing a ton and a half. Oxen hold back re- luctantly when a heavy load is pushing downhill, and small blame to them, with the tongue of the cart thrashing about and the yoke knocking against their horns. On starting down a sharp dip in the road, I jumped off the cart to go to their heads, for we were gathering speed. I landed on a rolling stone, and sat down in front of a cartwheel. The tire took the bark off by backbone; the hub belted me in the head; yet I scrambled to my feet and got in front of the cattle in time to slow them down and avert a wreck. The performance could not be suc- cessfully repeated with a thousand chances. When I dropped from the cart upon the rolling stone and sat down I should have fallen backward in front of the wheel and lost my daylights. CHAPTER VI. 1 -- THE GIRL INTRUDES. IN the next few years after I came to 14 I drew only feebly with the girls. They paid me no attention and but few times did I wish it other- wise. We he-fellows regarded as effeminate the boy whom the girls favored. As I advanced further into the adolescent period the gulf widened on account of the bluff I put up to mask my timidity when girls were by. The school girls of fifteen or sixteen with- out exception neither looked at me incitingly nor spoke to me. However, when I returned there with more assurance, after a stay in New York, they ex- ercised their powers of speech and had learned to look. One of them, in a way, explained the cold spell between us at school. To my astonishment she said they considered me "too conceited" over a few times that, when the rest of the class hadn't the answer ready, it had been my luck to remember it. Those awful examples in arithmetic! Teacher called one scholar and then another to the black- board; always it was an example they hadn't done. Teacher asked, finally, if anyone in the class had worked that problem, and my hand went up, fol- lowed by myself at the board, making homely figures, marking down the answer, known of course before- hand, and swaggering to my seat. It was simply, why -- annoying! It would have been kinder on my 105 106 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT part, this one thought, if I had kept my hand down and given them another try at the example. Thus I saw that in my nervousness, I had behaved like a chump -- that Thackeray was right when he said a boy was an ass; and I have no hope at all that my error will help any other boy through that trying period of life and girls. One teacher at that epoch when I was in a state of ignorance as to the worth of a lass really made overtures toward comradeship. She raised my temperature by stopping beside my desk when going down the aisle, and brushing the shoulder of my coat with her hand or straightening the part in my hair by turning, a hank over on the side where it belonged. With such contacts and with out-of-school meetings, or walks that just hap- pened, we acted like one of those engaged couples where the man has lost his enthusiasm, for I was so much of an idiot as to take the passive and recep- tive part. Only boys of the age I had then reached will approve my attitude, or understand me. Later I wrote cynically of this episode: "The school is done and the winter sped; The schoolmarm and I, we drift apart, And Romance I. lies cold and dead On the fresh green grave of a broken heart. Go plant the willow and cypress tree, Hang up the handsled out of reach. I will get the parson to measure me, And take my size for a funeral speech." My original offense is aggravated by this rhythmi- cal performance and I now wish to register contri- tion and regret. What of merit has man ever done that he should be worthy to have a woman mindful FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 107 of him? And when a girl touches him and her hand trembles and her color comes and goes, and she is ready to forgive and weep for his faults, and then he only grins at her, what does the overgrown lum- mox deserve except that his neck should be quickly and unfixably broken? Yet others of womankind have a way of avenging disregard of one -- they are all for each and each for all. It couldn't have been long before the goddess of retribution took me in hand and reduced me to a girlward condition so imbecilic that I could indite the following defeatist verses: "If the love of another should gain you, Let me dwell in your memory alone; Or if thought of my solitude pain you, Forget me as one never known. As the flowers of last season have perished That budded and bloomed and are fled So the blossom of love that I cherished, When the summer departed was dead." The time and the place and the girl have escaped me. I do not know when or where or to whom I inscribed these lines, nor can I explain now why I ever came to write that mush. But I quote it so that the worst may be over. This work is "The True George Macdonald," and I have never done anything else so bad that it wasn't a virtuous act compared to that one. Two young persons, girl and boy, see each other at short intervals covering a considerable length of time, and are as distant as though they had never met, until all of a sudden something jumps across between them, and at once they are appreciative 108 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT friends -- chums. They find and confess that they had always taken notice of each other, and "Don't you remember?" coming from her to him reveals that all the time he thought her indifferent she has been taking notice and can recite his local history more accurately than he could do it himself. And then separation for all time -- or death. "For some we loved, the loveliest and the best That from his Vintage rolling Time bath prest, Have drunk their Cup a Round or two before, And one by one crept silenty to rest." The lovely girl who on my return so held the mirror that I could take a look at myself as others saw me was at the time she did so already on her silent and pitiful way to the Great Rest, under sen- tence of death from tuberculosis, there known only as "consumption," which was ever the scourge of New England maidenhood. In a circle that would embrace a population of scarcely one hundred, I could name half a dozen young girls, pretty beyond words, who died as virgin sacrifices to the white plague. 2 -- THIS WAS RURAL NEW HAMPSHIRE. That town of Westmoreland -- and you must ac- cent the West and almost ignore the second syllable by calling it mer -- has a small population, no com- mon center, and many districts. I have mentioned neither Parkhill, Poocham, nor the Glebe. Park- hill got its first name since my day. Formerly it was The Hill. On its top is a Congregational church where Samuel P. Putnam went once to preach. The FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 109 view up the Connecticut Valley from there makes the most beautiful postcard I ever saw. Poocham is a detached settlement; and what the Glebe is I never could find out. In England the income of glebe land is part of ecclesiastical graft. Once this glebe may have been so devoted, since New Hamp- shire formerly made public grants for the support of the Protestant ministry. It irks me to shift from the subject of girls to the unrelated one of surviving Puritan manners and morals, now probably extinct, but my observations in the rural parts of New Hampshire, with reading extending further back, convince me that the cus- toms and characteristics of the people down there who lived at a distance from the ignoble strife of the crowd had changed little since the Revolution, or even since the Colonial period; and they spoke the speech brought to their shores by the Pilgrim fathers; those living coastwise using the vocabulary of the sailors on the Mayflower. I sincerely believe that more changes have taken place there since 1870 than had occurred in the previous century. My boyhood saw the passenger and mail-carrying stage- coach go rocking by on thorough-braces attached to C springs, the driver delivering parcels and collect- ing letters to be mailed. Would not Thomas Paine have seen the same vehicle in the New England of his period? The fathers of the families used flint- lock firearms, and neither the guns nor the flints had become antiques when I handled them. Many a farmer's lantern was of tin, elaborately perforated -- holes shaped like stars, crescents and triangles -- 110 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT with a socket for a candle inside. The candle pro- vided domestic illumination; snuffers, a pair of shears surmounted by a small apartment to receive the burnt wick, belonged to the outfit. The an- nouncer of evening meetings ignored the sun and the clock, and called for a gathering "at early candle- lighting." I assisted, while in Surry, at candle dip- ping, which is the old way of manufacturing candles. Given a large and deep receptacle, a wash boiler, full of melted tallow, the dipper draped his wicks in a row over a stick, and lowered them into the hot fat. They were lifted out for the grease to harden, and then dipped again and again until they carried enough tallow for a candle. Lamps still burned whale oil. In Jonathan Shelley's house the kerosene lamp, lately acquired, was viewed with apprehen- sion by the women. Only the deacon himself handled it, and he stood at arms' length to touch it off, as if its wick had been a fuse. Professional men wore shawls as pictures show they did or still may do in Europe. Overcoats were called surtouts, and that is what George Washing- ton called his. When Elijah Mason, a man of 60- odd, put on his best clothes to visit a lady and solicit her hand in marriage, he wore a low plug hat, a blue coat, much cut away as to the skirts, and a buff waistcoat, with close breeches that made him look like the picture of John Bull. Manners were manners. A farmer's daughter, on my being introduced to her, cast down her eyes, put her right foot behind her left, and lowered her- self until her skirts touched the ground. It was FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 111 the polite gesture, of which old folks spoke, called "dropping a curtsy." Another reference: In a seventeenth century play a female character speaks: "Very well, and how did madam receive all this fine company? -- with a hearty welcome, and curtsy with her bum down to the ground, ha?" That would be a deep curtsy. Uncle Eliphaz Field, who learned his manners just after the Constitution of the United States was adopted, having been born about 1785, responded, when presented to a lady from Boston, by bowing very low, putting out his hand to one side with a small flourish, and saying: "Your sarvant, Ma'am." I saw no looms going, but spinning-wheels were in common use. My aunt spun and dyed the wool she knit into our stockings. In the attic were wheels like the distaff, and quill-wheels, and a hetchel for breaking up flax. Nothing mentioned in New England history ap- pears very old-fashioned to me, not even the new England morals lately described by Rupert Hughes. The scenes of my boyhood knew them all -- including sabbath-violation by walking otherwise than rever- ently to and from church -- but without the penalties. The Constitution, guaranteeing religious liberty, taken seriously by our New England ancestors of a few generations back, certainly did revolutionize their ideas in this respect; and to a large extent it killed off puritanism at the same time. "The right of every man to worship God according to the dic- tates of conscience" is a phrase I heard oftener sixty years ago then I do now. The descendants of the Puritans quoted it. 112 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT The new "religions" of the nineteenth century, Perfectionism, Mormonism, Eddyism, and virtually Spiritualism, sprouted from the free religious soil of New England; where also were cultivated Emerson and Theodore Parker and the Unitarians. I would not affirm that New England morals as I saw them had improved since the Puritans practiced them; but the witch-chasers were gone, if not all belief in witches. Our neighbor, Aunt Achsah Mason, who at sixty had never seen a railroad train, put a heated horseshoe in her churn before pouring in the cream. The efficacy of a hot horseshoe as a defense against witches is well attested. A real Puritan reformer, a Cotton Mather, would have been kept as busy there in my country as the Watch and Ward Society was in Massachustes in 1927 suppressing modern fiction. The customs of the too ardent fathers, mentioned in connection with "bundling," had not passed away, yet nobody started a movement for their abolition. The people seemed to be wholly incurious regarding one an- other's sexual affairs. When they had anything to say about a birth closely following a wedding, they said it with a smile, and remarks when made did not go beyond broad joking. The selectmen investigated cases of illegitimacy on complaint, the man at fault paying the girl $300 if he did not choose to run or to marry. Being forced to make good in this amount was remembered longer against a man than the offense whereby he incurred the penalty; and a quarrel between neighbors must go far toward a personal encounter before he would be twitted of that. FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 113 3 -- THE PURITANS MADE A MESS OF IT. Treatises of considerable volume on the morals of the Puritans, the colonies, and early New Eng- land have been written. Long ago were issued a few numbers of a magazine called "The Times," in which Professor Giddings of Columbia University began a promising string of articles on "The Natural history of New England Morals." The end of the magazine was the end of the articles so far as I am aware. Reading them was like reading about People I Have Known. ln 1925 Rupert Hughes devoted a series to "The Facts About Puritan Morality" in the Haldeman- Julius Monthly. Mr. Hughes quoted the list of offenses that had been committed not so much in Note -- When I was at Gene Fuller's in East Westmore- land, his oldest boy had reached the age of 10, and there were two younger. The second one has been gathered to his fathers in the little burying-ground where four genera- tions of the Fullers are laid away. The youngest one is a school superintendent in Lancaster, N.H. The one who was 10, now 65, has learned of the publication of these memories and writes me at length from the Pacific Coast, where he occupies a responsible position in a medical institution. He has made good. ... The writer must watch his step. The husband of the granddaughter of one of the most interesting women I have mentioned as residing in Walpole is reading The Truth Seeker now. The Surry girl of classic beauty who forwarded the skull to me in New York about 1884 sends now an admonitory letter from St. Paul, in Minnesota, chiding this author a little severely for recalling forms of speech that were not nice, and censurable customs that have become obsolete in the old neighborhoods. She mentions at the same time a book with a religious motive which she prefers to my work. 114 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT spite of, as perhaps because of, the prevailing fun- damentalism. But the most hideous features of the record are not the offenses but the punishments in- flicted. Count all of the real crimes committed, and still the magistrates who imposed the harsh pen- alties for slight breaches of the moral code were really the infamous Criminals. Here is a famous sentence imposed on the pioneer Secularist, Roger Williams, September 3, 1635: "Whereas Mr. Roger Williams, one of the elders of the church of Salem, hath broached & dyvulged dyvers newe & dangerous opinions, against the authoritie of magis- trates, has also writt letters of defamation, both of the magistrates & churches here, & that before any conviction, & yet mainetaineth the same without retraction, it is therefore ordered that the said Mr. Williams shall departe out of this jurisdiction within sixe weekes nowe nexte ensucing, which if hee neglect to performe, it shall be lawfull for the Governor & two of the magistrates to send him to some place out of this jurisdiction, not to returne any more without license from the Court." If a person swore in 1635, as did Robert Short- house and Elisabeth Applegate, he or she was sen- tenced to have the tongue put into a cleft stick, "& to stand so by the space of haulfe an houre." The penalties the Puritans inflicted cured none of the habits for which they were prescribed. Swearing was the rule two hundred and twenty-five years later, and punishment for it unknown. So of the notoriety of public acknowledgment forced upon "Temperance, the daughter of Brother F______ now the wife of John B__________, having been guilty of the sin of fornication with him that is now her husband." In those Puritan days Mis- FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 115 tress Temperance had to stand before the whole congregation and profess to bewail her great wick- edness; and this after her marriage to John! In the seventeenth and early part of the eighteenth century cognizance was taken of many such cases; and there were plenty of them, for "the records of the Groton church show that of two hundred per- sons owning the baptismal covenant there from 1761 to 1775, no less than sixty-six confessed to fornica- tion before marriage." These were baptized per- sons who had received the Holy Ghost. At Brain- tree, Mass., of sixteen couples admitted to full com- munion, nine had confessed to premarital relations. And they also had the baptism. The Braintree con- fessions belonged to the period of the Great Awak- ening (religious revival), 1726 to 1744. The in- formation is taken by Mr. Hughes from "A Social History of the American Family" by Arthur W. Calhoun, Ph.D. Dr. Calhoun opines that "dis- cipline probably stiffened about 1725." Discipline hadn't stiffened on London Road one hundred years after that date unless Uncle Lewis Aldrich was an untruthful man. An exception to what a man could do in the colonies and escape punishment was furnished by a scalawag minister named Lyford, the first preacher to be sent over from England, who, it is true, was exposed and condemned by Governor Bradford and Cotton Mather, but he never had to stand in the pillory nor pay a fine. The faculty of preaching was withdrawn from him, and he went to Virginia, where, says Bradford, "he shortly after dyed, and so I leave him to ye Lord." Cotton Mather, in his 116 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT account of the same Lyford, introduces a modern note by referring to the "eminent worthy stranger" as "this bird." The Rev. Lyford was a bird. As to the particular misconduct of Lyford, Mather says: "But the sum of the testimonies deposed upon oath before the magistrate, December 7, 1699, by several women of unblemished reputation, is that he would often watch opportunities of getting them alone, and then would often affront them with lewd, vile and lasciverous carriages." Now, since the same sort of women-chaser is found every day among the clergy in our own times, Puritan morals cannot be especially taxed with lyford. But Lyford after all had to go. To the contrary, in the town of Surry, N.H., in the '60s, such a preacher plied his trade and made his propositions to the women, and yet remained there till he died a natural death. He would "often watch opportunities of getting them alone." He got one of them alone at a house, where he stayed overnight, by pretending that he had a cold, for which the remedy was catnip tea, and asked to have some of that decoction brought to him after he had got into bed. A girl took the catnip tea to him, when he told her of his ruse and affront- ed her by saying that she was herself the medicine he desired. The girl made a disturbance, and the story got out. His lasciverous carriages ended his preaching, but not his residence in the vicinity, where he was afterward known as the Rev. "Cat- nip" Allen. He was a bird. The Puritans, among whom illegitimacy was fre- quent enough, dealt sternly with the women. Cal- houn says; "In 1707 a woman was sentenced to be FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 117 set on the gallows, received thirty stripes on her naked back, and forever after to wear the capital A" (for adulteress). Naturally the records are loaded with cases of infanticide. The bearers of illegitimate children took that chance to avoid de- tection and to escape being set on the gallows. As in the part of New England that I know the girl who gave birth to an illegitimate child suffered no physical punishment, tales of infant slaying never reached my ears. In Westmoreland village I knew four illegitimates, three of school age and one younger. They held their heads up with the rest, suffering no social disability. Being safe from the gallows and stripes, the mothers had not tried to conceal their error by committing infanticide. In that same town of a thousand population, two men lived in polygamy, having two women apiece, spoken of as So-and-so's "wives," first and second. Nobody cared. On the Surry end of the London Road dwelt a farmer's son with the widow of a neighbor, deceased. If they ever were married it was not until she had borne him a boy, who lived nearby the last time I was in New Hampshire. Right there once lived also a good man with the daughter of a neighbor as a maid. Tradition said she be- guiled him into marrying her by going home to her mother and disguising herself with a pillow. To the contrary, another tradition, which might have been a real slander, said that she worked for him under promise of wages, and he reckoned it was more economical to marry her than to pay the wages. At any rate, they were married; and I heard a young woman make merry over the guileless remark of the 118 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT wife that their marriage "did not change anything." They "went right on just as before." They were a worthy couple respected by their neighbors. No longer ago than 1914, visiting one of these towns, I noted the comment of my hostess concern- ing a young couple domiciled within a few hundred yards -- the man being employed by the lady's hus- band -- that for the children's sake John and Marie ought to get married, as she was having a new baby every year or two. The lady's tone was judicial, not minatory, nor such as might be expected of the late Mrs, Elizabeth Grannis, who, with the cooperation of an upstate Episcopal bishop, procured the pas- sage of a law by the New York legislature to abolish adultery. I am not here "exposing" the morals of the New Englanders of my childhood. They had to live. The blots on the reputation of the Puritans are not their human failings, but the inhuman punish- ments they inflicted. And of my own New England, or the part of it I know, I speak in praise for the forbearance that makes it gloriously different from the New England of the Puritans, and unspeakably more humane. They were the spiritual heirs not of Cotton Mather but of Roger Williams. The moral- ity which the Puritan clergy and the magistrates under them tried to enforce, made no allowance for nature, which raised and asserted itself in spite of their ferocious discipline. Contemplating the varia- tions from rule that I have mentioned as known personally to me, going on sixty years ago, I am moved to ask whether the happiness of mankind would have been appreciably enhanced if all or any FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT of these people who had made mistakes in their pur- suit of happiness had been dealt with according to the methods of the Puritans. The irregularities, after all, may not have been in sum more than one- half of one per cent. at any time, but what a mess the Puritans made of it with their scant material! When the punishment is twice as bad as the offense and the judge more vicious than the accused, I am not on the side of the court, nor enthusiastic for the prosecution. 4 -- "NEW MORALS FOR OLD" If I wanted to argue that morality is dynamic rather than static, and may occasionally get a move on itself, I could point out that my predecessors in rural New England were progressive beyond their day. In 1924 the New York Nation published articles on "New Morals for Old." Isabel Leavenworth contributed one on "Virtue and Women." Mrs. Leavenworth stated: "I recently heard an elderly Boston lady make a remark which expressed the horror commonly aroused by any conduct which endangered the distinction between the two classes [the respectables and the "other" or common women]. 'Do you know,' she said, 'I heard that a young man of our set said he and his friends no longer had to go to girls of another kind for their enjoyment. They can get all they want from girls of their own class'." Fifty-four years before the date of the paper printing the article by Mrs. Leav- enworth, and in a New England city ninety miles 120 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT from Boston, I was helping a farmer to deliver a load of hay. A house next door was occupied by the "other" kind of women. One of them made her appearance, and the farmer, agreeing with her that it was "a nice large day," and telling her where the hay grew and how much of it he was carting to market, inquired sociably, "How is business with you?" She replied that business was slow, and that to tell the truth there were "too many amateurs in that town for an honest woman to make a decent living at her profession." She spoke with scorn of women and girls "holding their heads up" and at the same time keeping the bread from the mouths of their betters, as you might say. Now if what this "other" woman said was true, and if what the elderly lady described was a phenomenon of 1924, then in "new morals for old" this New Hampshire town in 1870 was about a half century in advance of Boston, Mass. However, anyone who accepts either of these women for gospel does so at his own peril. But why take chances? Let a man make a guess. Mine is that the girl of a young man's own class cuts into the business of the other woman not by supplying the same kind of "enjoyment," but some- thing better and finer. If a young man is in love with a girl of his own class, the other woman has lost him while he remains in that condition, even al- lowing the enjoyment is no more than the spectators see when lovers are on the stage. So that, let us say, if a young man can manage to keep himself in love with a good girl, he will not consider the "other" class at all, nor miss what they offer him. FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 121 5 -- THE APPEAL TO LANGUAGE A famous passage in Lecky's "History of Euro- pean Morals," where he speaks of the prostitute, reads as follows: "Herself the supreme type of vice, she is ultimately the most efficient guardian of virtue. But for her the un- challenged purity of countless happy homes would be polluted and not a few who, in their pride of untempted chastity, think of her with an indignant shudder, would have known the agonies of remorse and despair. On that one degraded and ignoble form are concentrated the pas- sions that might have filled the world with shame. She remains, while civilizations rise and fall, the eternal priestess of humanity, blasted for the sins of the people." Mr. Lecky makes of the female members of the family alone the vessels that preserve the purity of happy homes, as if what the male members do out- side had no bearing upon it; whereas the chance is there that the impurity personified and distributed by the woman representing vice will be brought home. No; as I have said in a preceding paragraph, the eternal priestess of humanity is the Good Girl. The others are only the revivalists. On one of my last invasions of New Hampshire -- maybe in Gilsum, maybe in Alstead -- I saw a farmer who had gone to school with me in the winter of '69-70. Having shaken his rough but honest hand, I inquired whether anything worth mentioning had happened since we last met, which was at the date just given. He thought for a moment and then replied: "Wal, I don't know as there has." More than a third of a century had passed and nothing changed, 122 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT My hope to show that the rural New Hampshire people of seventy years ago were virtually what they had been before the Revolution, is strengthened by the appeal to language. They still spoke in the '60s the mother tongue the Pilgrims brought to America. A book of plays (already cited), written shortly after the Pilgrims set sail, that is, in the Restoration period, is full of Yankeeisms at which English writ- ers now poke fun. The Yankee "I guess" occurs two or three times in one play. The New England pronunciation of words like round is produced in the book by inserting the letter a before the o. I was shown when studying phonetics that the ow sound is made up of ah and oo (ah-oo), but for ah the Yankee pronunciation substitutes the sound of a as in cat,'and makes it a-oo. Try it. There occurs too, in this book written when our Pilgrim ancestors were alive, the phrase "going snucks" or snacks, meaning equal division. I heard that in New Hamps- hire; and I also find the reproachful words "lazing round," which I myself sometimes provoked. And then the comparison "as mute as a fish." Who has heard that? if anyone in the 1920s had known of the phrase, it would have been applied to President Coolidge. A farmer's wife in Surry used it of persons who were not saying anything. So I found "bawl" as an alternative for cry or weep; and the phrase, "Let her bawl; the more she cries the less," etc. -- a saying that cannot be completed without using biblical language, and I am not inspired. I have heard it in New Hampshire and nowhere else. James Russell Lowell's Introduction to "The Biglow Papers," gives many instances. FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 123 We boys and girls who had been to school were irreverent toward such pronunciations by our elders as sarvant, 'arth, clark, and ile (for oil.) After doing my share of the laughing, I came to New York and heard those words pronounced soivant, oith, cloik, and erl. The people of my country did not say "leave that alone": they said let it alone. They didn't "blame it on": they laid the blame to. They rejected "like he did" and "like it was," and said as, or "the same as." They correctly discriminated in the use of shall and should, which have now gone into the discard, "will" and "would" taking their places. The woman at the table did not ask, "Will I help you to some of this?" She said "shall," and that usage is characteristic of past generations. Their stories and jokes were of an ancient flavor, belonging, like Dean Swift's, to an age when there were no modern conveniences, and were mal- odorous. The possession of a digestive tract they figured was a joke on one and all. Sex allusions were barred if women were present, and among men the digestive kind got the laugh. They were competent swearers, but as they had no Holy Name Society to discourage the taking of ghostly names in vain, their oaths were non-sexual, though to the last degree blasphemous. Located according to language, literature, and customs, these New Englanders represented the seventeenth century. They were true to their en- vironment. Nothing happened to change that, and they kept undeviatingly the even tenor of their way. The vernacular was almost destitute of slang; so was the vocabulary of New Yorkers at the time I 124 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT came here. Some Germanisms had followed the big immigration from the fatherland. The city accent and pronunciation misled me, and in one in- stance I set down a born and bred New Yorker for a foreigner, so different was his speech from my own. Some of its peculiarities survive, and I will mention them. Not long ago a youth employed by another tenant of the building I was in, came to me for the key to the hoistway door, explaining he wanted to "leave a case down in the hall." Now, what could be made of that? I let (he would say "left") him have the key, but asked him why the case (a box) should be disturbed if he wished to leave it down in the hall. It turned out he desired to lower the case, or to let it down into the hall. I surmise that "left" and "leave" came in with the Irish, because my friend Pat, the section hand -- he who, leaving out the Catholic, impeached the virtue of all churches claiming to be spouses of Christ -- was accustomed to use them; only he said "lift" and "lave." The difference between the two words is plain enough. To "let alone," for example, is not to disturb, harass, touch, or take. To leave alone any person or thing is to leave that person or thing in solitude. The terms are not interchangeable. A man says he can drink or leave it alone, but he cannot; he may leave the stuff himself, but it will always have other company. If his enemies cease to trouble him, he will say they have "left" him alone, meaning he is no longer harassed by them. But when, employing the term in the same sense, he remarks that since the death of his wife, rest her soul, he has been left alone, he implies that in FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 125 life she annoyed him. So these locutions, which I regard as highly unmailable, have not had access to The Truth Seeker since I began reading and revising manuscripts, if I saw them first. I have sworn eternal enmity to all of them, though it is a losing fight when they are admitted to The At- lantic Monthly, published in the heart of New Eng- land. 6 -- SPEAKING OF THE PILGRIMS. Between Pilgrims and Puritans there was a dif- ference that no longer persists in the common mind nor in all of the uncommon ones. President Roose- velt, at the Pilgrim anniversary in Provincetown, Mass., 1907, talked of none but the "Puritans." Now the difference, supposing one may be pointed out, is that the Pilgrims were an independent body of believers something like the Congregationalists (who are often as liberal as Unitarians), and that, unlike the Puritans, they preached religious free- dom for others as well as for themselves. In Eng- land they suffered persecution, as much in propor- tion by the Puritans as by the Established church. They left their native shores to escape both, and went to Holland, where they found the people so liberal that they (the Puritans) faced the prospect of being absorbed and assimilated by the Dutch- men. Their young men and women took them wives and husbands among the Dutch girls and boys, so that had the Pilgrims stayed in Holland, their organization would have gone to pieces, and 126 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT to save it they took ship for their native England, making port at Plymouth, but not allowed to come ashore. At that they up anchor and sailed away for America, establishing another Plymouth here. That, as the poetry of Mrs. Hemans puts it, "They left unstained what there they found -- Freedom to worship God," may be true of them, though false as to the Puri- tans who came later. These Puritans never harbored the impious notion of freedom of wor- ship. They would not tolerate it when at home in England, and so far as they were moved by religious impulses, and not by the commercial spirit and a desire to improve their circumstances, they quit England because they were not allowed to run that country. They were looking for a com- munity where they could force the people to adopt Puritan notions. To the, Puritans New England is indebted, if it owes them a balance, for its Fast and Thanksgiving days. Fast Day in New Hampshire was recognized but not observed. They imported Christmas later. The country churches possibly took note of it; the families I happened to be with on that anniversary paid it no attention, and the making of presents they reserved for New Year's day, which indeed was as happily celebrated as Christmas even by New Yorkers when I came here. That the Pilgrim fathers renounced Christmas observance is a matter of record. At the end of December, 1621, Gov- ernor William Bradford, who wrote a history of FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 127 "Plimoth Plantation," which contained an account of the voyage of the Mayflower, made this entry: And herewith I shall end this year. Only I shall re- member one passage more, rather of mirth, then of waight. On ye day called Christmas-day, ye Govr caled them out to worke, (as was used) But ye most of this new-company excused them selves, and said it wente against their con- sciences to work on ye day. So ye Govr tould them that if they made it mater of conscience, he would spare them, till they were better informed; So he led-away ye rest and left them; but when they came home at noone, from their worke, he found them in ye streete at play openly; some pitching ye barr, & some at stools-ball, and such like sports. So he wente to them, & tooke away their imple- ments, & tould them, that was against his conscience, that they should play, & others worke; if they made ye keeping of it mater of devotion, let them kepe their houses, but ther should be no gameing, or revelling in ye streets. Since which time nothing hath been atempted that way, at least epenly. (See next page.) In the old country excess of conviviality marked the celebration of Christmas. Thomas Carlyle al- luded to this feature. He himself forgot one sea- son the significance of December 25 when it dawned, and went about his usual occasions until he noticed that the public houses, which is to say the saloons, were doing more than their average volume of business. He saw people in numbers going in and coming out, and then remembered that it was "the birthday of their redeemer." Bradford was as oblivious as Carlyle. He could speak of December 25 without recognition of the redeemer's birth. So little mindful were the Pil- grims of the observance of this important anni- 128 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT @@@@ (page 128 taken up by a reproduced letter of Governor Bradford on ye day called christmas.) FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 129 versary that the entry of this date the year before, i.e., 1620, does not name the day, and indeed they do on it heavier work than usual: "On ye 15. of December they wayed anchor to goe to ye place they had discovered, & came within .2. leagues of it, but were faine to bear up again, but ye 16. day ye winde came faire, and they arrived safe in this harbor. And after wards tooke better view of ye place, and resolved wher to pitch their dwelling; and ye .25. day begane to erect ye first house, for comone use to receive them and their goods." Thirty years after Governor Bradford made his entry, that is, in 1659, a law was passed by the Gen- eral Court of New Hampshire "for preventing dis- orders arising in several places within this jurisdic- tion, by reason of some still observing such Festi- vals, as were Superstitiously kept in other countries, to the great dishonor of God and offense of others." The court therefore imposed a fine of five shillings on whosoever should be found observing any such day as Christmas either by forbearing to labor or by feasting. The law may long ago have been re- pealed, but my people were abiding by it when I left the state. Thanksgiving was the day the lid blew off, or was conscientiously removed. The laws of economy were for the time disregarded, and food set out with bewildering frequency, in large amounts and many varieties. I suppose that the fare provided by Aunt Nancy Shelley in 1872 duplicated that of the farmer's wife of one hundred years earlier -- chicken potpie for breakfast, with hot biscuits and smoking johnny cake; apple-pie too, if one desired; 130 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT and for the midday dinner, chickens, roasted, a wide choice of vegetables, and the holy trinity of pies -- mince, apple, and pumpkin -- all three included in one helping. That the family repaired on Thanks- giving Day to its customary place of worship I cannot trust my memory to affirm or deny; but my recollection would be that the family, augmented by children and grandchildren not living at home, opened up the front parlor that had been closed since last year, unless there had been a funeral, and "visited" when not eating. **** **** Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship. This disk, its printout, or copies of either are to be copied and given away, but NOT sold. Bank of Wisdom, Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 **** **** CHAPTER VII. 1 -- I TAKE LEAVE OF THE INVISIBLES. SURVEYS in recent years tabulate the disap- pearance or the abandonment of hundreds of country churches. That movement had begun in New Hampshire before I departed thence, and some churches supposed still to be active drew a small attendance. The Walpole Hill church was empty and decaying when I passed it on my way to school at the Hollow in 1870, its closing preceding that of the district school by several years. I went to Sunday school in Keene, Surry, and Westmoreland. Having thus heard a great deal about God's being everywhere present, I at the age of sixteen called on him for a showdown. The calling took place on top of Surry Hill, from which, as I have elsewhere said, all the rest of the universe was visible on a clear day. And this day was clear; the stillness so profound it could be heard. Having found a comfortable place to repose, on a mossy knoll, I bent my mind to the problems of the cosmos, to discover if peradventure I might think them out to a solution. Nothing having come of my mulling and pondering, I said aloud, addressing the welkin: "Here is the place and the moment for God to pro- duce himself and to tell me about things, He 131 132 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT might speak or he might appear." And I was al- most afraid he would. But my mind was made up and I persevered in the thought, keeping my eyes lifted and ears alert for about the space of half an hour. Still nothing happened. The sun con- tinued to shine, and the wind to blow, and the heavens to remain empty. There was no such pres- ence as favored Moses on Sinai. Not even the Devil came along, as I had heard he did to Jesus on an exceeding high mountain. I had said to God: "This is your chance to get me." Now I added: "You have missed your chance. Good-bye," and I arose from the mossy knoll and went my way, con- vinced that one of two things must be so: either I had been misinformed about the watchfulness of God over all my acts and his close attention to any prayers I might make, or else God had merely been imagined by the ministers; and I was a skeptic, a doubter, a disbeliever from that time on. I had heard a good many sermons, all more or less Fundamentalist, the Unitarian ones being as bad as the others, except for kindly omitting threats of hell. The Unitarian minister cast no doubt on the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible. Once the Rev. Mr. Barber of the Westmoreland Uni- tarian church, having asserted there was no passage of scripture -- not reconcilable with every other pas- sage, had his attention called by Deacon White to Proverbs xxvi, 4, 5. Verse 4 reads: "Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him," and verse 5 reversed the injunction by enjoining: "Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit." Dr. Barber FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 133 labored the question for the best part of an hour, when he might have explained the contradiction in a minute by saying verse 5 was the comment of some other writer on the opinion of the author of verse 4. Or verse 5 might have been the second draft of the first writer, who forgot to strike out the words expressing the idea as it had come to him before. It made me tired. The first preacher ever really to hold my attention was the Rev. W.H.H. Murray, who, being on a lecturing tour, addressed some remarks to an audience in Keene on an occasion when I chanced to be there. The Rev. Murray talked about the people of the Orient and their virtues, and having extolled them highly, told his hearers, no doubt to their amazement, that when Christians had learned to be- have themselves as well as a Chinaman did, they might with less cheek say to the heathen, "Be like us." I was then more suspicious of Christianity than before. The days I went to Keene, which was no mean city, were the largest in the Almanac. If any old citizen remembers seeing a half-grown boy sitting on the rail that enclosed the Common, eating P.B. Hayward crackers out of a bag, then I am his ancient acquaintance. He might have seen me again while the Cardiff Gialit was in town. I distributed the handbills which notified one and all that this petrified proof of holy scripture -- the one and only individual survival of the days before the flood -- was now for, a short time in their midst and could be viewed for the pitiful sum of ten cents. I must 134 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT ignore the conversation of an obscene old man who descanted on the incompleteness of the early Chris- tians if this one was to be taken as a specimen of their manhood, and he proposed to take up a sub- scription to buy a better endowment for the giant than had been the puny gift of his mother. Should I visit Keene again, could I find anybody, I wonder, who remembers Rarey, the horse-handler, and his exhibition there? My uncle, who doubted that a boy could be properly trained without flogging and who worked out this scriptural theory on myself, had me go to witness the demonstration of this man Rarey who gentled horses without the use of the whip. 2 -- I MAKE A GEOGRAPHICAL CHANGE As the summer of '75 waned toward fall, my New Hampshire days dwindled without my being aware of their approaching close. I had before me at one time the prospect that Emerson Franklin, with whom I continued to live, would buy for me the old Ezra Pierce place, then for sale, and that I would settle down there as a farmer, probably married. Already I had looked the place over and in my mind had cleared it of stones to admit of cultivation, when orders came to proceed to New York and be a printer. This news getting about, I assumed a con- siderable importance in the community, which now took more notice of me than it ever had before and made my going away the topic of conversation. My acquaintances wagged their heads; the idea was a large one, not easily grasped. Men who had never been farther away than Brattleboro said: "What FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 135 business do you guess you've got going to New York? Them fellows there won't make two bites of you." Elias Chamberlain, a man of 80, had the curiosity to ask: "How soon are you expecting to go West?" York state was out West according to his memories of geography, which were as ancient as the century. So for the time I was an individual possessing interest, and more than one girl not previously eager for my acquaintance asked if I would write to her from the city. I accumulated for my entry into the metropolis an outfit of clothes highly satisfactory in my own regard. The near-purple cutaway coat was of a ribbed material known as "trico," worn by the best dressers; under this a waistcoat of black velvet, cut very low to reveal the bosom of a grass-colored shirt with a real collar and a string tie; below, a pair of tight trousers showing a delicate green stripe; and then a pair of calfskin boots with high heels; on my head a black slouch hat, and to cover all but the hat and the boots, a brown overcoat of the broad- cloth order. The color of some garment in that orgulous ensemble must appeal to any taste. There is preserved a tintype picture of myself as I then appeared. It could be used against me. The sentimentalist is on the lookout for pathos when he scans descriptions of the parting of a youth from his old home and friends; but all the regrets remain behind, to be felt by those who may have cause for sorrow in the prospect that they shall not see him again. It is by them that tears are dis- tilled. The one who is going away to new fields contrives to control his grief. His mind is on his 136 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT venture. Melancholy, if ever, attacks him when in later years he turns to look back. For the moment he knows none of that regret which may come to him when he is mature and his own children drift away. The pang is always theirs who stay. Were it otherwise, nobody, I suppose, would ever leave the place where he was born. I review my journey to New York with wonder that I should have ended it only twelve hours late, at my mother's house, instead of tying up in the port of missing gawks. My brother had written me full and sufficient directions, as they no doubt seemed to him, after he had made the trip twice; nor did he omit to urge upon me certain precautions which I was to observe. I had only, he wrote me, to take the train at Putney, Vermont, just across the Con- @@@@ BRITTON'S FERRY This is Westmoreland, N.H. The State of Ver- mont begins at Putney on the other side of the Con- necticut River. necticut river by way of Britton's Ferry from West- moreland (Putney is the town where the Oneida FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 137 Community began, the building that housed it be- ing still there in 1875); to change cars at New Haven, and then; on arriving at the Grand Central Depot, New York, to board a Fourth avenue horse- car and get out at No. 338. I would then be there, he said, and he should be glad to see me. But on the way, or en route, as he chose to phrase it, I was to cultivate no acquaintances whatever, talk to no strangers, and to reserve all confidences with other people until I knew whom I was speaking with. All this is conventional and sensible advice, but had I followed it I should indubitably have been lost. However, the counsel was of no avail. I immediately forgot all those words of wisdom, and before the train had made its first stop I was chinning with a young fellow-passenger, a city chap at that, and smoking my first cigar, which he alluded to, airily, as a Havana. I can today place that cigar as one of the brand that used to be handed out when the loser settled for a game of fifteen-ball pool at five cents a cue, including drinks. In a little while the wight had my name and pedigree. His own name, he told me, was William Jones, and he was oftener called Willie. So commonplace a name awoke at once my suspicions. It must be an alias, I shrewdly divined, and yet, foolhardy as it might be, I would follow the adventure through. He was smaller than I, anyhow, and would need his gang to help him carry out any sinister intentions he might have to- ward me. On the day's run from Putney to the metropolis, that boy told me more about New York than I have learned by being here most of the time for above 138 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT fifty years; and I have not been unobservant. He must have got his impressions of the city and its attractive wickedness from reading The Police Gazette. He painted the female peril in lively colors, and before we got to the last stop I knew just how to elude the sisterhood, designing or sinful. 3 -- DROPPING THE PILOT At the Grand Central, where I first heard the roar of the city, which I still catch at intervals, Willie tendered me his guidance, and asked, when we were in a street car, for the number of the house I got off at. I gave it as 335 Fourth avenue, and naturally we did not find the house, 335 being then the number of The Truth Seeker office on Broad- way. We inspect&d 335 Fourth avenue. It was a business building deserted and locked up, and I had not the slightest notion where we went from there "Never mind," said Willie Jones cheerfully, "I'll take you to my house tonight, and we'll have an- other look at this neighborhood in the morning." For such a little cuss, for so I looked upon him, he was very competent and commanding. He saluted a policeman with "Good evening, Officer," and urged the driver of the next conveyance we entered, which was a bus, to get downtown sometime tonight. It was 7 o'clock and dark, the month being Novem- ber. I had by now lost my sense of direction; knew not whither we were drifting; and Willie, having some surprises up his sleeve, smirked and was ret- FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 139 icent. We proceeded in fact to a ferry, over the river to Brooklyn, and into the streets of that city. He brought me soon to a building with a wide and brightly-lighted entrance, and there came to a stop. "This," I reflected, "is just one of those gilded palaces of sin, and pitfalls for the unwary." Actual- ly it was a variety theater, the first I had ever seen. After a consultation as to financial resources, and mine being found good, Willie did business at the ticket window, and we went in. As an awed spec- tator from a gallery seat, I saw that evening the play of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, with some other sketchy work, and the performances of an astonishing gymnast named Frank Gibbons. Willie Jones said with pride that he knew Frank person- ally, and had even shaken hands with him. When the curtain came down to rise no more for me on those enchanting scenes, Willie and I walked through the night to his house in Schermerhorn street, which from my recollections of it must have been a residence district of the first class. He let himself in with a key at a door in a brownstone front. We trod upon soft carpets and awakened no one, till he led me up the stairs and into a room which, as I saw when the gas had been lit, was furnished in the best of style. He produced two garments, since known to me as nightshirts. I let him put on one of the effeminate things before I committed myself to the other. He had seemed to divine that I carried none in my valise. Having slept as a tired boy was bound to do I awoke in the morning in the strange quarters to realize I had not been robbed; and after passing 140 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT through the first bathroom in my experience, and being well washed and combed, I tracked Willie to the dining-room, there to be introduced to an elderly female who might have been his relation but evident- ly not his mother. Her greeting to me lacked cordiality. Her manner said: "I wonder what ruffian has picked up Willie now," and held me responsible for his being out late. So the atmos- phere of the dining-room wanted warmth. When she asked him if he had kept up his reading while away he replied that he had read matter both re- ligious and secular, and found most enjoyment in the latter, which displeased her. Overnight my mistake about the house number in New York had corrected itself. Willie took me again to the metropolis, rang the bell of No. 338 Fourth avenue, saw my mother greet me. And so, having violated all the rules of travel laid down for the guidance of greenhorns, I came safely through, though delayed in transmission. When I turned to say good-bye to Willie, he had disappeared and I never saw him again. 4 -- THE TRUTH SEEKER AND D.M. BENNETT The Truth Seeker had been going for two years when I came to New York. D.M. Bennett began its publication in September, 1873, at Paris, Illinois, by way of replying to a clergyman who had access to local newspapers, while he had not. Bennett, having business instincts, capitalized his answers to the minister, and made his paper continuous. He FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 141 was one of those who can make money, but not always keep it. In 1894 I prepared the biographical sketch of Bennett for S.P. Putnam's "Four Hundred Years of Freethought." The incidents of his life, which I now take from that sketch, are, first, that he was born in Springfield, New York, December 23, 1818, two months earlier than he should have been, for the reason, that his mother overexerted herself in lifting a Dutch oven. Only for that maternal indiscretion he might have had a birthday in February with Washington and Lin- coln. He took four years of schooling in Coopers- town, N.Y.; worked in a printing-office and also at wool-carding, although he preferably would have studied medicine. At 15 he joined the New London Shaker community; ten years later had risen to be head of its medical department, and at 27 was the community physician. But he fell in love with the little Shakeress Mary Wicks, and she with him, and they left New Lebanon to marry, since Shakers had the eccentricity to be celibates. After a term as drug clerk in St. Louis, he went into business for himself and made money. In the '5Os, having tried the nursery and seed line in Rochester, he took the road as salesman and collector. In Cincinnati he manufactured proprietary medicines, waxing weal- thy, but as an investor, he lost $30,000. In 1868, in Kansas City, he dropped more money trying to sell drugs, and so went to making bricks on Long Island. Leaving this venture to go out as commercial travel- er, he turned apothecary once more, in Paris, Ill., and again was partner in a seed firm. Thence, hav- ing started The Truth Seeker, in 1873 he brought 142 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT @@@@ D.M. BENNETT IN 1873 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 143 his paper to New York the first of the following Year. About that time my brother, at 18, had set himself up as a printer. Bennett attended the New York Liberal Club that had been organized in 1869 and still continued. There he came into touch with the family. Eugene took the paper to print. In a short time Bennett bought Eugene out and engaged him as foreman. When I came on from New Hamp- shire to join the force, the paper was published at 335 Broadway, on the top (sixth) floor of a struc- ture called the Moffat Building, corner of Worth street. The editor's visitors took no elevator; they walked up five flights of stairs. On another top floor, at No. 8 North William street, half a mile distant, east by south, I found the printing-office, with a vacancy for an able-bodied devil who could sprinkle the floor with a sponge and sweep it with the remains of a broom; and I answered the descrip- tion. The approach to the Brooklyn Bridge, opened in 1883, now occupies the site of the building, and North William street is reduced to one short block. It was then as now the center of the printing busi- ness, and hard-by was the "Swamp," habitat of the leather trade. Bennett, now 57 years old, was a man of average height, small-boned, and carrying more weight of flesh than he ought, for one of his feet was deformed and he walked with a limp. His gray hair, worn long and getting thin, was retreating from his high forehead. His eyes were small and twinkling, with the puffiness beneath them which physiognomists used to say denoted the possession of a large vo- cabulary of words. He dressed in a loose gray 144 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT suit, and the fact that he habitually wore no tie or collar was concealed by gray whiskers. His picture shows what an observer first noted, that is, that he had a fine head. Not at all a full-blooded man was Bennett, nor of the sanguineous temperament, but pallid, with a translucent skin; his flesh not very solid nor his physique rugged. All of us called him Doctor. A man of humor he was, however; one who liked to poke the boys in the ribs and crack a joke. No man I ever saw could smile so genially or better appreciate the witticisms of the press. But he never wrote a piece of humor himself, except uncon- sciously. I one day put into type a piece of his copy in which he attributed the development of intel- ligence to improved means of observation; and he wrote gravely, in illustration: "The frog has op- portunities for observation superior to those of an oyster." Now I hold that the contemplation of an oyster, or even a frog, as an observer -- the one view- ing the world from the eminence of a log, the other suffering the serious handicap of being buried in the mud -- has a humorous appeal, but I am morally certain that Bennett never saw anything funny in the comparison. The Doctor did a great deal of writing by getting up early and working late. One number of his paper (March 23, 1878) contained this item: "In a late Crucible [he said] we notice the following complimentary notice of ourselves: 'D.M. Bennett of The Truth Seeker is one of the greatest workers we ever knew. He generally commences at 4 o'clock in the morning and works till 11 P.M. He deserves all the success he gets.' "We might amend this a trifle by saying that we have on a few occasions been known to lie abed until 5 A.M." FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 145 The paper quoted was Hull's Crucible, published in the state of Massachusetts, I believe, by Moses and Mattie Hull, advocates of Spiritualism. Mr. Hull acquired his knowledge of Bennett's working hours at first hand, for Bennett employed him for a while as a compositor. As a man of learning, he wrote and did public speaking. As a printer, he was far from being at his best. His proofs bore many marks, and I have somewhere else related, as touching on and appertaining to his skill, that one of the other printers took a proof that he had set, and pasting it on the wall, labeled it, "The Mis- takes of Moses." Mr. Hull wore a high hat. In this he was but one of three compositors known to The Truth Seeker printing-office who sported tiles. Another, a certain Mr. Clegg, not only came to work in a high and shiny beaver, but carried a cane for dress purposes. A third stovepipe compositor we called Professor, because he lectured at a Bowery Museum on the marvels there offered to view for a dime, but his hat lacked the glossiness of the one worn by Mr. Clegg, and was a habit of the professional man rather than of the natty dresser. 5 -- TYPESETTING MADE EDITORS THEN. By the fact of Mr. Hull's being an editor, I am reminded of the numerous future editors who handled Truth Seeker type. An able and studious young man named Thomas was the first to be graduated into the editorial class. He did a little such work on The Truth Seeker, and then in turn on The Sewing Machine Journal, on Science, and 146 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT on Power, a mechanical publication issued from the World building. An accomplished compositor named Moore, much interested in the fine points of the craft, got to be editor of a religious paper. An- other, of the name of Hammond, did city editing for a Boston daily. John Bogert turned Labor editor on Hearst's Journal. Will Colby, once our office boy, was on the editorial staff of The Cosmo- politan when Hearst bought that magazine of John Brisben Walker. You can add the two Macdonalds to The Truth Seeker comps. who doubled in edit- ing. For a small printing office it was a prolific school of journalism. Truth Seeker printers became competent. John Reed, a boy from Pennsylvania, after serving as an apprentice, changed to Funk & Wagnalls', where, he told me, they gave him the worst copy on the Standard Dictionary. Tommy Blake, another Truth Seeker apprentice, was soon foreman on one of the floors of the Funk & Wagnalls establishment. If Napoleon said of his soldiers, or of one divi- sion of them, that every man carried a marshal's baton in his knapsack, then it is not too much for me to observe that a printer's apprentice should carry in his head the possibilities of an editor or an author, or a critic, or at least an intelligent re- viewer. A compositor like the one who set, and the proof-reader who passed, Fiske's "Comic Phi- losophy" and Spencer's "Social Statistics"* is a source of danger in a printing-office. 컴컴컴컴컴컴 *The titles mentioned are old ones. The point is that the philosophy of which Fiske discoursed was Cosmic, and Spencer preferred the word Statics. FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 147 I changed the subject to say a few more words on my lamentable forgetfulness of good advice. Unless the reader skipped the part of my story that tells how I left New Hampshire, he knows that I went aboard the train across the Connecticut at Putney, Vt., en route for New York, well charged with precautions against getting picked up for a sucker, and that, disregarding the warning, I at once began to chum with a fellow I had never seen be- fore in my life. As it turned out, I could not have done better. I have stated likewise that this youth, in his superior wisdom, took some pains to make me aware of the city's menace, including the female peril. I never thought of that again either. The fact is that such things are not recognized when met. That is why men read the newspapers all their lives and then buy a gold brick. With the money to spare I should have purchased the first shiny brass ring a man who confessed he was no better than a smug- gler offered me at only a fractional percentage of its value; and less than ten years ago I gave a fellow 50 cents for a pair of gold-bowed glasses he had just picked up. I saw him pick them up. A by- stander told me he saw him drop them. The trick was not new to my reading; it was new only to my experience, and I fell for it. The glasses were of my size and I used them with satisfaction until my wife took them away from me because they made a green stripe across my nose. The futility of the warning of Willie Jones will soon appear. NOTE. -- A Westmoreland lady finds my story not above criticism on the score of impurity; but another New England reader writes: "I've been reading the Memoirs 148 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT aloud to my Missis -- who is an invalid. 'Twould do you good to hear the poor lady laugh. One learns, too, for we are both New Englanders and all you write is in our family tradition. We are both keen on Yankee history -- and you are certainly a 'document.'" The reader will kindly accept the story as a narrative consisting of facts necessary to an understanding of the people it is about. There is no moral lesson in it. My memory is jogged by one who points out that I have overlooked an interesting character in Westmoreland known as Thu Blanchard. His name was Bathual, but some, seem- ing to derive it from Methuselah, called him M'thu. He was a handy man about town, doing odd jobs like lighting the fire in the church. There was no fire when one meeting opened and he was asked why. "I'll tell you why there is no fire," said Thu. "There ain't any fire because I hadn't nuthin' to start it with but three matches and dam' green wood." In Surry (1871) I spent a little time in the cider mill of Jonathan R. Field keeping a horse in motion to grind apples. The horse led itself as long as it kept the "sweep?' in mo- tion, but had learned that by stopping it relieved the pull on its halter. I was there to make the horse resume its travels in a circle, which must have been monotonous for the horse. I learn of a Jonathan R. Field III out in Idaho. Memories are stirred in the breast of a Fall River law- yer, Milton Reed, Esq., who says: "In your interesting Autobiography you refer to the Rev. Josiah Lafayette Seward of East Sullivan, N.H. He was my Harvard classmate and at one time intimate friend -- a pragmatic, plodding, unimaginative chap. The last time I called on him in Keene he was plugging away at his History of East Sullivan, to which he had devoted years of his life. "I never met the Rev. W.O. White, although by marriage he was connected with a branch of my family. I read his, Life, written by his daughter Eliza Orne White. "My father's maternal ancestors lived in Alstead, West- moreland, and that region, named Granger. I never lived FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 149 in New Hampshire, but have frequently visited the beauti- ful region in which those towns are set." The Rev. Josiah Lafayette Seward was not, for God took him, before he had completed that opus, his History of East Sullivan, and it was finished by another hand. Priest White, Unitarian, was my pastor in 1862-'65, and preached the funeral of Grandpa Eliphaz Field. He was a slow and hesitating speaker. **** **** Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship. This disk, its printout, or copies of either are to be copied and given away, but NOT sold. Bank of Wisdom, Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 **** **** CHAPTER VIII. 1 -- IN OVER MY HEAD MY mother was fond of company. She liked the society of others so well that she took in boarders and rented rooms. Often the pay- ing guests and the visitors who remained to dine were advanced thinkers. A Mr. Brewster, par- tisan of the hollow globe theory, came among them. Mr. Brewster was persuaded that any one who should attain the regions of the North Pole would find there an opening through which he could sail his ship and navigate the hollow insides of the earth. He fancied this interior to have advantages over the outside as a place to live. He constructed a globe three feet in diameter, for use in illustrating his theory, with min- iature ships, magnetized to keep them in their course, that navigated the outer surface and sailed bravely over the rim and disappeared through the north hole. For a time this globe was stored with us, to be moved with our household stuff the First of May. People abused mother's good nature in similar ways. One man induced her to entertain for a season his mother-in-law, a terrible old woman. Of the 1875 group with whom I mingled socially at my mother's board was Osborne Ward, author of "The Ancient Lowly," a spare, sparsely-whiskered man with a prominent adam's apple and a res- 150 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 151 onant voice, who summed up the failings of man- kind, obstructive of the ideal social state, as In- temperance, Concupiscence, and Irascibility. Mr. Ward was the Socialist candidate for lieutenant- governor of the State of New York in 1879. Another man, name now unknown to me, was interested in organizing the Sovereigns of Industry, a society of young working people, of the skilled class, I think, with aspirations to be literary and dramatic, or entertainers at least. My brother was secretary of a branch that put up a very good show. The Spiritualists had a society called a Lyceum, which met in Armory Hall on the west side. They maintained a Sunday school that attracted me, especially when they had exhibitions. I heard there lectures and debates. Mattie Sawyer was one of their speakers, who professed to be inspirational. Poetry came to her out of the air, and I have heard her deliver verse of twenty minutes' duration that sounded like Poe's "Raven," if you did not notice the words. Mattie was a social radical, but at that time most of the Spiritualists believed in social free- dom. Today their pastors have to walk straight, I understand, and they have ministerial scandals just like those of the Christian communions. This is probably necessary in order to establish Spiritualism as a religion and get their churches exempted from taxation. There were more women than men in the house- hold group. Among those who rallied round, the most surprising individual, to me, was Mrs. Cynthia Leonard, a very dominant person indeed, and I stood in awe of her. In her vigorous tones she ad- 152 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT dressed me as "Young Man," and once passed me fourteen cents and sent me out for a quart of "lager," for so she termed beer, which till then I had never tasted. The good old word lager went out of our vocabulary even before the advent of near- beer. A generation later Mrs. Leonard might have put her motion in the form of a request that I should fetch a scuttle of suds. But beer, I supposed, was for common consump- tion; the immortals quaffed nectar. All of the great, nevertheless, sometimes come down. The Rev. J.M. Buckley, editor of The Christian Advocate, on a visit to London, heard how a detail of Tennyson's admirers followed him for a while as he was viewing pictures in an art gallery, purposing, should he chance to speak, to catch and preserve what memo- rable words he might let fall. Children and a maid were with the poet. The persons trailing him heard him say to the maid: "You take care of the children, Mary, while I go and get some beer." Mrs. Leonard, president of the Chicago Sorority, was mother of Lillian Russell, a person destined to become noted. Lillian never appeared as a girl at our house, nor later at gatherings of Freethinkers, whom she disdained, although her father was a Freethinker and ardently approved of Ingersoll. When Lillian herself had a child, a girl, she sought out a Catholic institution and sent the adolescent damsel to a convent school. Lillian's sister, Susie, more companionable, would come with her mother to the Liberal Club (in the '80s) and captivate the audience with a song. So with her sister Leonia. Mrs. Leonard, as listener or speaker was FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 153 to be seen at the Liberal Club and at most other gatherings I attended for years. That first season of mine in New York, in the circle about our table, an idealist who chanced to introduce the social free- dom proposition might be abetted by others. My brother, young and conservative, withstood them. With the courage of his virtues he declared: "I have my principles and I practice them," and then he challenged his adversaries: "Do you people prac- tice yours?" This caused embarrassment. Mother answered him: "My son, you are impertinent. Declare your principles, but omit the personalities." A good rule for all, considering the intimacy of the subject. Amongst a half dozen contributors to the con- versation, the dumb one was myself. Already I have certified to my profound ignorance. I knew nothing and had no material for opinions. Some persons, for want of intellectual stimulation, go through the world that way. I was shy and on the lookout for avenues of escape. If my interest in a topic led me to attempt the saying of something, the silence that fell upon the company caused the remark I contemplated making to go back down my throat. I was stumped, then, on an occasion when a deep-bosomed voice boomed: "Young man, tell us what they think of these modern ideas in New Hampshire." My New England conscience an- swered for me: "We have no use for them." The Voice (politely): "How interesting!" And then, addressed to another: "Mrs. Bristol, here is a man after your own heart." Mrs. Bristol confused me by blushing. She was an attached friend of moth- 154 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT er's, though twenty years younger. I never knew what formed the bond between them. Coming of an old and patrician Massachusetts family, she had married a New York man, who brought her hither and then in a few short years let himself be sepa- rated from her by dying. At the age of twenty-five she was successfully fending for herself; achieving economic independence by overlooking the sales- ladies in one of New York's firms of purveyor's to women who bought high-priced clothes. She was reticent, reserved, and distant. Ruskin said that architecture was frozen music. This woman's im- mobile face was congealed beauty. Mother called her Agatha. She garbed herself with elegance; and what a burden of dress-goods women then packed about with them. I get a vision of high-necked wast, sleeves inflated at the shoulders, skirt tightly drawn in behind the legs, so it snapped as they walked, and a superfluous quantity of the same ma- terial falling from the exaggerated projection of the sitting parts, and trailing half a yard on the ground. Was this the bustle and pullback era? I fear so, for contemporary verse included the following: "You've pulled it back," he cried in grief, "Much further than you'd otghter; Your front stands out in bold relief, My daughter, O my daughter!" No word or picture now seen in the advertise- ments of women's things hints at the volume and expanse of muslin, when it was muslin and not duck, that composed the white layers of feminine toggery FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 155 pinned weekly to the clothesline. And then that bas- ket of reinforced tire weave called a corset that women exhaled themselves into. "Willowy"? They were as trees walking, with the bark on. They say the filled-in terrain about the great cities of our land is largely of corset formation, the discarded gear being indestructible, and resistant to the processes used to reduce old battleships to repair parts for automobiles. The shoes they wore can by no means be the stock from which their present insubstantial footgear has descended. They were plain soles and heels and uppers, just a good job by a shoemaker, no strings or bows, but buttons, and the tops were so high they would not stand alone but fell to one side like the empty part of a bag half filled with po- tatoes. The tops were built to that elevation to in- sure that no stocking should be seen between them and the hem of the skirt. To fasten them on, the wearers used a hook maybe a foot long, so they could reach the buttons while sitting on the floor. 2 -- THE WATERS DEEPEN On stormy days a carriage called for Agatha or brought her home. Until the Voice drew her atten- tion to my existence, she had been unaware of me, so far as I had any knowledge, and yet I surmise she must have looked me over and gauged the chances for my betterment in the same manner that I had but recently inspected the Ezra Pierce place in Westmoreland with thoughts of how it might be reformed in appearance. I was a rather tall fellow for my age, and by no means slim-built, and I had 156 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT of late resorted to shaving my upper lip to keep a mustache from pushing forth. I observed with ad- miration but with moderate interest this beautiful creature so nearby and so far away. She came to contemplate me with less preoccupation when a pred- atory individual -- to wit a sneak thief -- invaded our house and, while collecting portable property, strolled into an occupied room, and the woman he found there gave the alarm by screaming. Then, of course, I must blunder on the scene and for ap- pearance's sake grab the thief. His physical con- dition being poor, I had no trouble in, detaining him until the iceman, making a late delivery, took him off my hands and held him for the policeman on the beat. The household gathered for a review of the events and each one's part in them as the excite- ment died down. I believe that I was the only rep- resentative present of woman's natural protector ex- cept an anaemic or phthisicky young man who, con- trasting them with his own, passed comments upon the capability of the tough-looking pair of hands that stuck out all too far from the sleeves of my coat. Agatha evidenced her curiosity by taking a seat beside me on the sofa and saying, "Let's look." As though my allegedly competent right flipper had been a sample of goods she was solicited to buy, she inspected it, turning the calloused palm upward, and, with no signs of approval, calmly advised that I wear gloves when handling coal. This she said with the quirk of the mouth and the wink of the eye I had seen other New England women execute with the mischievous intent to "plague" somebody. Said I, to reprove her and rather pridefully: "Printers FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 157 do not wear gloves when sticking type. What you see on my hands is not coal; it is a mixture of ink, lead, and antimony; but," I boldly added, "I should not mind bringing up coal if you need some to keep your fire going." My remark was not intended for gallantry. I merely had confidence in my capacity to fetch up coat with the best of them. I was sure that as coal- heaver I should shine more brilliantly than as a con- versationalist. But, "Mercy," quoth Agatha, "I be- lieve I am getting a compliment," and she smiled. "Two things," said Immanuel Kant, "fill me with awe: the starry heavens and the sense of moral re- sponsibility in man." But what are the starry heav- ens to "the light that lies in woman's eyes," and what becomes of man's sense of moral responsibility when that light is turned on him? The presence of Willie Jones just then, or recollection of his warn- ing words, would have been helpful to me. One and then another of the company went away, and the room emptied except for us two and mother, who was obliviously reading a book. Agatha held me in conversation, shrewdly controlled by herself so it would be all about myself and never personal to her, until I became restless with the pumping. Then she murmured that if I meant what I said about delivering coal to keep her warm, I could be- gin by filling the scuttle in her room, which was on the floor below. Doubting her sincerity I proved my own by taking the hod to the bin and loading it. She was in her room when I came back. Now, if this were alone the record it purports to be of my observations in the liberal movement, there would 158 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT be no excuse for bringing Agatha into it, for she was no innovator, religious, social or other, and as little dreamed of espousing views that would not pass muster with the world as of wearing clothes odd and out of fashion. Her opinions were regular and conservative, and even though she herself neg- lected the means of grace, she thought people ought to go to church more. Advising me I should read Christian evidence, she presented me with a fine large work by Judge Greenleaf on the "Harmony of the Gospels" -- a book I still possess. For rea- sons that will appear, I never read it through and was relieved, then, to learn that neither had Agatha. Concerning its subject matter, I may remark it can be made to appear that any two or more series har- monize, by excluding those which contradict each other. A colloquy like this occurring later on would further develop Agatha's views: Churches are a necessity to society. One meets there the best peo- ple. Evolution? One should know the titles of Spencer's and Darwin's books and something of what they contain. Freelove? I was glad to hear you say you had no use for it. Divorce? Some women have kept their social standing after being divorced once, not twice. The common women, the street girls! Why -- my boy! (protective demonstra- tion). What made you think of them? Have you spoken to one, or looked at one? Where were you last night? You went to see Frank Chanfrau in "Kit, the Arkansaw Traveler"? But you came straight home, didn't you? I have tickets for Gilmore's Gar- den tomorrow night, and we will go there if you like." FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 159 Gilmore's Garden was really the old Madison Square Garden, built by Barnum (his Great Roman Hippodrome) on the former site of the New Haven Depot. It was but a block from home and was called Gilmore's Garden because Gilmore gave popu- lar concerts there that winter. Agatha was one of the "If you like" and "Do you want to?" kind of women, if women are not all of that kind, who would appear to defer when they lead, and consent while they ask; to consult an- other's will or wishes while having their own way. That makes the other fellow responsible because he would have it so. However when I endeavor to co- ordinate my ideas and clarify the woman theme, my powers of construction leave me and my thoughts become coagulated. Tennyson wrote: "Flower in the crannied wall, I pluck you out of the crannies; Hold you here, root and all, in my hand, Little flower -- but if I could understand What you are root and all, and all in all, I should know what God and man is." Easy enough; but what would you know about woman? 3 -- To RESUME As I said, Agatha had retired to her room when I reached it with the coal, and as I set the hod down by the fireplace (for all rooms had their sepa- rate heating plants), she said: "Let me see those hands again. You must have made them worse by handling the scuttle." Examining the soiled mem- 160 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT bers, she ordered my coat removed, when she rolled back my sleeves, fixed some water in her bathroom basin, led me to it, and applied soap and brush till my hands were so clean and soft I was ashamed of them. I ought to have resisted the rolling up of my shirtsleeves, since it exposed the want of an undergarment and provoked inquiry. "Why, your arms are bare," said Agatha. "It's their week to be so," I replied. My brother had given me two spare suits to wear next to the skin. One was woolen, fleece-lined for winter; the other summer "gauze" and sleeveless. I wore them in alternate shifts, and this happened to be the summer suit's week. That was the beginning of the renovation which Agatha forthwith worked on me. She dis- covered faults I never suspected anybody had. They subsisted in the clothes I wore and the way I wore them. My walk, mostly on the toes and with eyes on the ground, she condemned, despite my defense of it as the only way a fellow could walk in the woods and on the farm; he had got to see where he was putting his foot down. Still I took thought and changed my gait. And as for clothing, besides following her directions and ob- taining gloves and cuffs at A.T. Stewart's, I found a tailor, one Jerry McEvoy, on Stuyvesant street, diagonally across Third avenue from the Bible House, who made me a good suit, Prince Albert coat and all, on easy terms. And I bought me a derby hat. In that era, the accessories of a pro- letarian shirt were conveniently made of paper. With paper cuffs, and with a paper collar buttoned to a separate and detachable bosom, a fellow was FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 161 dressed for a party if he kept his coat on. Agatha tolerated none of these fictions. When in the au- tumn of 1876 I returned to New Hampshire on my vacation, clad as she would have had me, my Aunt Louisa' voiced her appreciation of the change for the better. "Have you earned the wages since you went away to pay for them clothes?" she asked. I said yes. "And you don't owe nothing on 'em, either?" No. "And besides that you've paid your own way here from New York and have money enough to go back there with?" Every cent I need. "Well, all I've got to say is you've done mighty good.,' I applied myself -- no, that is too feeble; I de- voted myself to the maintenance of a fire in Aga- tha's grate. Having brought the evening's coal and put some on, I sacrificed @@@@ the time to stay by the fire and see that it didn't go out. This may not have been necessary, strictly speaking, but it was immeasurably agree- able. She seemed to find it agreeable also to keep these watches with me, when she had unarmored herself as women were in the habit of doing, and put something on in the way of fatigue uniform, or negligee. She had books, her own or from the Mercantile Library in Astor Place, which we made shift to read by the shaded light of a gaslamp on a stand placed near the chimney, creating a fireside clime quite domestic. If she was to be late, I would find a card on the table asking if I would like to wait until she came. Agatha was seven years my 162 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT senior, yet I made the discovery that a certain sort of consciousness, a consciousness of that nature which may be induced by propinquity, the male and female in close community of thought and person, has the effect of reducing all the gentler creatures to approximately the same age; the young female becoming more staid and serious; the maturer ones more girlish. Agatha, when the ice was thawed by this nearness and by the warmth of friendship, with the intensity of her interest in citifying me and improving my style, dropped off those seven years. The weeks passed pleasantly away, and by the time six had gone I was spending at least three evenings of each of them with her, acquiring a de- gree of proprietorship in the chair by the fire. It befell on one of these evenings that the room I entered was empty; nevertheless I lit the gas and sat down to read a book that I had begun. She came in later, very majestic in her impressive street apparel, ornamented hat and costly furs, and with her womanly bearing that restored her age. Put- ting aside the book: "I have kept your fire for you," I said. "Yes," Agatha answered, "we must not let the vestal spark expire. I was kept late at the store -- too late for dinner, and I dined lonely at a restaurant. You need not go now." (The lady is recreated with strange vividness, as though her "ghost" had appeared, from the fragrance of the warmed atmosphere that was released when she unfastened her furs, and the scent of the drop of White Rose she had put in her hair, whenever I come where those perfumes are present.) She hid herself for a brief period inside the half-open door FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 163 of her closet, audibly removing her rustling outer garments, and came forth reduced to her easy home- things that I hive called her fatigue dress, or un- dress -- that "kimono," the integrity of which as a covering of the person depended ultimately on a clasp or pin she wore at the throat. "This is cozy," Agatha said, as she came to the fire; "but I wonder if we ought." Then, apparently having resolved her perplexity about the ought -- for I only looked at her without helping her with the problem, not understanding what it was -- she seated herself by my knee on a footstool none too broad for a person of her amplitude thereaways, and said: "You may make me a back if you like. Do you want to?" I responded by moving closer to furnish her the re- quired support. "Turn out the gaslamp," she di- rected a few moments later; "I love the firelight." There was enough of this light to shine on the bosom pin she wore. The book I laid down when Agatha came in was by a Victorian author whose name I shall not attempt to give. It related that one evening, the hero, seated by his lady, drew her to him and unfastened the pin at her throat. The Victorian author says to the reader: "And so would you -- at eighteen." Contemplating the glow of the fire in Agatha's broach, from which I could withdraw neither my eyes nor my imagination, and fumblingly extracting the pins from her hair (which she protested would not do at all, but it did), I re- cited the Victorian scene. Then shakily I said to Agatha: "I am eighteen." Agatha answered: "So am I," and looked up at me. So we agreed we were of the same age; and then we knocked off three 164 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT years and called it fifteen. The Intelligence Quo- tient at that moment would not have put us above twelve. But, Willie Jones preserve us! When she turned to the fire again there was no pin at her throat for the fire to shine upon. Rather its glow fell upon billowed whiteness, not all linen and lace, that the trinket had guarded. 4 -- ONE PROBLEM IS SOLVED ANYHOW Another day followed. All was still well with the world. Reaching the office a moment late, I asked myself seriously whether I had come to New York to learn type-setting and to be an editor, or to let a woman occupy my mind. The inquiry ended in a compromise. I found that I could place a long take of copy on my case, after shuffling the sheets to get the gist of it, and then put it into type as usual, though allowing my thoughts to dwell pleasantly on the ulterior subject mentioned. As my work suffered no harm or delay, I saw that one does not reflect upon the subject of woman with that set of mental faculties the possession of which makes the Intelligent Compositor. Such is the wise provision of nature. Home at the close of a successful day, I resumed the accustomed chair and book. Agatha, having come in and made herself comfortable, approached me, and tipping, back my head, shook it by grasping the scalplock that would never lie smooth, and said: "Oh, chuck that book! What do we care about the Harmony of the Gospels?" Since she FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 165 had been surprised or wheedled into admitting she was only eighteen, she had to act the part and be girlish -- absolutely giddy. Her enthusiasm for the improvement of my mind by wide and constant reading, perceptibly diminished. She had been a New England girl and knew how to train. I rec- ognized that signal. Family concerns called Agatha to Boston; and I am compelled to say of her, as of others in those changeful days, that I never saw her again nor heard from her. While tender, she was practical. She did not demand that I should write. Letters that supply a bond between parted friends are futile, like all things else except time, to allay the hurt of separation in those who are wrenched apart by ineluctable circumstance. But youth is buoyant and resourceful. In the days which ensued I resigned myself again to read- ing and philosophy, and might have learned to smoke a red clay pipe if the long bamboo stem had not turned out so bothersome. I was now eighteen, almost nineteen years old, and was through with women. I had solved them -- penetrated their last disguise. The frozen-face was a girl at heart. If Agatha survives, she is seventy-eight years old; but I have no such thought -- cannot picture her as an aged woman. Nevertheless I have veiled her name and whatever circumstances might identify her. A writer may go too far, even in his eighth decade, in assuming that the older friends of his youth have all passed out. Since I began these memoirs I have heard from a woman, Sarah E. Holmes, now past 90, living in Pennsylvania, who 166 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT recalls that she tried to teach me German long be- fore I was married; and I have been married forty years. NOTE. -- TO this chapter as first printed exception has been taken in certain quarters on the score of too close adherence to details. I am in receipt of criticism that is quite peppy from a New Hampshire spinster who quotes the best thoughts of E.V. Lucas as rebuking what she im- putes to me as a penchant (excellent word!) for realism. "I realize," writes the lady, "that you are getting vast amusement out of this, but feel that I must state my atti- tude." **** **** Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship. This disk, its printout, or copies of either are to be copied and given away, but NOT sold. Bank of Wisdom, Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 **** **** CHAPTER IX. 1 -- D.M. BENNETT'S WEALTH OF WORDS DR. BENNETT possessed such facility as a penman that had he spent as much time at his writing as most editors are obliged to do, he easily would have filled the entire paper every week with his articles. He wrote, with rapidity, a round, even, and legible hand, his letters well formed; and he made few changes except in the way of additions. When not satisfied that a sentence expressed all it should, he wrote it over again, say- ing the same thing in a different way and letting both stand. One word led to another, and he put them all in, with their synonyms. And he wrote some more into the proof. His prodigality in dis- pensing his gift of words was evinced in the sub- heading of The Truth Seeker, which, omitting his picture, ran as follows: "Devoted to: Science, Morals, Free Thought, Free Discussion, Liberalism, Sexual Equality, labor Reform, Progression, Free Education, and What- ever Tends to Elevate and Emancipate the Human Race. "Opposed to: Priestcraft, Ecclesiasticism, Dogmas, Creeds, False Theology, Superstition, Bigotry, Ignorance, Monopolies, Aristocracies, Privileged Classes, Tyranny, Oppression, and Everything that Degrades or Burdens Mankind Mentally or Physically." 167 168 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT This urge to give full measure he found opportu- ity to gratify when the office was on a ground floor with a street window for advertising purposes in Clinton Place. That window by his direction was soon gilded with lettering. Beneath the sign of THE TRUTH SEEKER, extending across the building, one read: WORKS OF VOLTAIRE PAINE DARWIN VOLNEY INGERSOLL SPENCER FEUERBACTI BRADLAURH R.D. OWEN HUXLEY DRAPER HAECKEL TYNDALL BUCKLE BUECHNER LUBBOCK FROUDE J. STUART MILL B O O K S B O O K S B O O K S Liberal Science History Spiritual Philosophy Poetry Reformatory Art Romance The period of succinctness in sign writing had not then fully arrived. Today we should hardly find so many substantives on any window except that of a railway and steamship ticket office. Pro- fusion of words characterized early book titles also. The literary fashion put the contents to the front; and whereas the title now is likely to consist of two or three words in one corner of a fly-leaf, an author might then indulge himself in anywhere from sixteen to twenty-four lines on his title page. Having learned the contents of the approxi- mately one hundred and fifty boxes in the printer's case, almost my first "take" as a compositor was copy on Bennett's essay, "An Hour with the Devil," which he prepared as a lecture and de- livered, or read, "before the New York Liberal FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 169 Association at Trenor's New Hall, 1266 Broad- way, Sunday, December 5th, 1875." That Asso- ciation, by the way, had been organized by my mother to provide a platform for Prentice Mulford, writer, lecturer and returned Californian. Bennett promised his hearers "an hour." Ac- tually it took him more than two hours to read the essay, which when printed filled almost fourteen columns of solid brevier (8 point) in the current number of The Truth Seeker. I began setting type and editing manuscript at the same time. In the copy that came to me gener- ally I saw. room for improvement by correction and even by insertion. New York was still throb- bing with the beecher-Tilton scandal. The incon- tinency of Beecher had been established, it seemed, by a cloud of witnesses, and the press, especially The Sun, persisted in calling on him to confess or get out, or to get out anyway, and cease desecrat- ing by his polluting presence a temple of religion. Mr. Beecher deigned no reply beyond authoriz- ing his friends to state that he would observe "the policy of silence." An unsatisfied press was not so grateful to him as it should have been for pro- viding it with this new phrase susceptible of daily repetition. Now this discourse of Bennett's was a complete defense for the devil against all malingers and, as the author read it from the galley proofs, it con- tained the passage: "He [the devil] is too modest, or too peaceful, or too much in favor of the policy of silence, to strike back when he is smitten, even to uphold his own innocence." The italicized words 170 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT were not in Bennett's copy; they were my contri- bution; and as it turned out they furnished the line that was rewarded with a laugh. The lecture of Bennett's, "An Hour with the Devil," began: "As far back in the twilight of human existence as we are able to penetrate." In the fifty years I have been handling manu- scripts, how many of those submitted for accept- ance, and for publication at an early date, opened with these same words; how many for that inno- cent cause have been recommended by me for immediate return to the author! when a writer asks the reader to go with him as far back into the twilight of human existence as we are able to pene- trate with the eye of history, I know at once that he is going to be prosy. Bennett was handicapped by prosiness and prolixity. The fact that he could be entertaining in spite of these desperate disadvantages, is an evi- dence of pure genius. What a man he was for trios of words! Reading some of his 1875 output, I find these sets of triplets in the space of a column: "Persecuted, tortured, and burned. Cruelties, wrongs, and outrages. Dogmas, superstitions, and errors. Dishonesty, fraud, and thieving. Honest, moral, and truthful. Fraud, dishonesty, or otherwise. Weeds, thistles, and nettles. Fruits, grains, and flowers. Elaborate, able, and exhaustive. Earnestness, honesty, and firm convictions. Sincere, honest-hearted, and well-disposed." FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 171 He named his first book "Sages, Infidels, and Thinkers." In the same number of the paper, introducing his report of an address by Hugh Byron Brown at the 320th meeting of the New York Liberal Club, he described the audience as "full, in- telligent, and appreciative." Verbal triplets were the fashion. His contributors, too, produced them -- if not following his example, then joining him in emulating the author of the Declaration, who wrote "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." 2 -- THE TRUTH SEEKER AS IT WAS The number of The Truth Seeker for December 1, 1875, gave eight columns to Mr. Brown's excel- lent paper above mentioned. At the end of the re- port are the two lines: "CHARLES BRADLAUGH lectured before the club on Friday evening, November 26th, but too late for a report." The next number, December 15, printed "an ad- dress on the anniversary of Thomas Paine," by C.A. Codman of Brentwood, L.I., ("Modern Times"), delivered on the previous January 29, and thus almost a year old; and also Bennett's fourteen- column "Hour with the Devil," with the editor's apology that because of its length "many articles are crowded out of this issue," and still nothing about the lecture by Charles Bradlaugh at the 321st meet- ing of the Club. I cannot see a man like Charles Bradlaugh coming to New York now, speaking be- fore a Freethought society, and getting only two 172 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT lines of mention. I hold myself excused by youth and ignorance for not attending and reporting the meeting. But then I had never heard of Bradlaugh. What a source of pride to me today had some good friend directed me to the meeting, so that this record might contain my impressions of that great English Freethinker and orator! I missed Bradlaugh, but I heard the foresworn Victoria Woodhull speak that winter in Cooper Union (then "Institute"). The statements of that poor, misunderstood sister were a string of lies, as all her former acquaintances knew. She had now taken up the work of biblical interpretation, begin- ning at the Garden of Eden. The said Eden, with its rivers, so she told her interested audience, meant merely the regions of a lady's hypogastrium; a statement which I deemed both immodest and in- delicate. The first trace of anything that may have been written by E.M. Macdonald, who, in almost the next shuffle of destiny's cards, was to be editing the paper, is a paragraph, December 15, on "Sovereigns of Industry," a now extinct order then lately insti- tuted for purposes of cooperative buying and sel- ling. Eugene held the office of secretary to the Earl Council S. of I., and the members, young men and women, had a good time, whether they bought co- operatively or capitalistically. The first sixteen months of The Truth Seeker's existence coincided with a very trying era for pub- lishers. Bennett stated, in his solongatory for 1875, that during this period more than one thousand FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 173 papers had been compelled to discontinue; but The Truth Seeker proposed to expand, to have larger pages, and to come out every week instead of twice a month. On September 15, '75, he had announced himself a convert to Spiritualism, saying: "For several years we have felt that we had received proof of the existence of an intelligence not connected with phy- sical bodies, and the Spiritual theory accounts for it to our mind better than any other." On account of this confession of Spiritualism, Bennett was charged with supernaturalism, which he denied, but had considerable difficulty in explaining the difference. He was a man with but one antipathy -- the Chris- tian system of superstition. Spiritualism convinced him, a Mohammedan might perhaps have converted him, and before he died he joined the Olcott- Blavatsky Theosophical society. For his sin in admitting proof of the existence of intelligences not belonging to visible bodies, Ben- nett was denied membership in the First Congre- gational Society of the Religion of Humanity formed by G.L. Henderson and Hugh Byron Brown; while the Positivists of the New York Liberal Club argued against holding meetings in Science Hall because The Truth Seeker, with its editor entertaining those views, was sheltered in the same building. All idealisms not included in the Christian scheme might hope for Bennett's allegiance. He championed Greenbackism when it came and supported Peter Cooper for President. He listened to a speech by, 174 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT Ingersoll in Cooper Union, and, in reporting the event expressed disagreement with the Colonel's opinions on finance. 3 -- I FIRST BEHOLD INGERSOLL To me at that age monetary questions were noth- ing, but Ingersoll was much, and I feasted on that Cooper Union speech. Ingersoll, as an orator, was a great illusionist. He made you visualize what he chose. Remembering his illuminative "presence," I do not wonder that, Mark Twain, supposing he thought of Abou Ben Adhem's visitor, could express it only by terming Ingersoll's appearance that of an "angel." A Republican in politics, he in this speech accused the Democrats of grabbing all their hands would hold, and then exclaimed: "And my God, what hands!" Now the hands of Ingersoll were large, like the rest of him, and when he spread them out some two yards apart to illustrate the size and capacity of those he had just spoken of, they seemed to grasp the whole audience and the earth and the firmament. Disagreeing with Ingersoll in his advocacy of specie payment, Bennett said: "His remarks upon finance scarcely convinced us of the superiority of gold as a medium of exchange, or that con- traction is calculated to benefit the manufacturer or the laborer. It will benefit the capitalist and the banker, who of course will, after the contraction, have the same number of thousands as before; and the greater extent to which the contraction is carried the larger proportion will they bold of the whole, and the less will be obtainable by the working classes." FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 175 The Truth Seeker volume of 1876 contains as much "finance" as Freethought. Had Bennett lived to see Socialism sweep into popularity, I suppose he would have shared that vision the same as he saw eye to eye with those who beheld their salvation in greenbacks, and that his paper would have turned Socialist with him. Besides the lecture of Bradlaugh, the series by Moncure D. Conway passed without my hearing them. Mr. Conway came from London, where he was a minister of the South Place chapel, and re- ported much fundamentalist opposition to the the- ory of evolution as presented by Darwin. Yet I absented myself from home one evening to hear the astronomer Richard A. Proctor, whose lectures were reported for The Truth Seeker by a young foreign lady, Miss M.S. Gontcharoff. The speech of Pro- fessor Proctor would never have betrayed him to me as a Britisher if he had not said "Ieftenant." Huxley, whose Chickering Hall lectures on evo- lution were delivered in September, 1876, was less Yankeefied of accent. And he was humorous in spots. He resorted to Milton instead of Moses for a statement of the creation hypothesis opposed to evolution, and told us why he did so. Happily, he said, "Milton leaves us no ambiguity as to what he means," while about the meaning of the Mosaic doc- trine, which some critics say Moses never wrote, two are seldom found who agree, notwithstanding they all consult the same Hebrew text. And then came Huxley's memorable remark: "A person who is not a Hebrew scholar can only stand aside and admire the marvelous flexibility of a language which admits 176 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT of such diverse interpretations." He had been ap- plauded when he came on the stage, but not again until he released this witticism, when the stenog- rapher bracketed "Laughter and applause." Pro- fessor Youmans of the Popular Science Monthly, and Professor Marsh of Yale, enjoyed themselves. 4 -- THE PAINE HABIT FORMED I first assisted by my presence at a Thomas Paine celebration in Ecclesia Hall, No. 8 Union Square, Saturday, January 29, 1876. I saw there Dr. Charles L. (Charlie) Andrews, son of Stephen Pearl. It was the 139th anniversary of the birth of Paine. I saw Dr. Andrews also on the 191st Paine anniver- sary, and doubt that I have missed seeing him at any of the intervening ones. The opening address by Mr. Bennett at Ecclesia Hall filled half the paper the next week, and what the other speakers happened to say was left over for a future number. During that year (1876) Bennett survived periods of strong discouragement, being at times ready to suspend. In view, he said in one of his moments of depression, of "the large numbers on our list who decline to renew their subscription, though they must know they are several months in arrears; that many, if notified of their indebtedness, pay no at- tention to it"; that books and pamphlets "are al- lowed to quietly lay on our shelves" (despite their merits and modest price); "when our request for a little temporary aid is treated with utter indifference, we are able to appreciate the estimate placed upon one who has devoted every dollar he possessed and nearly every moment of his time to the cause of FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 177 Liberalism, and we would seem to be admonished that it is time for us to modestly retire from the position we have presumed to occupy, and to sell out our business to someone who can run a paper without money, and live upon air at the same time. If there are those who have a limited amount of ready money, and a large amount of courage, who feel like buying out a business which neither pays in the present nor promises in the future, let them send in their propositions." A distant successor of Bennett has read those words with understanding. As the postal regulations were then, a publisher might devote the whole of his paper to reading notices and advertisements of his own business -- a privilege which since has been so restricted that this class of matter must be confined to a twentieth part of the paper's area, any excess of space de- voted to business (except in religious publications) being penalized by postage rates increased in the proportion that this 5 percent limitation is exceeded. So all of The Truth Seeker's departments, editorial, news, correspondence, and miscellaneous, were utilized for the insertion of commendatory notices of Bennett's books and tracts, including price lists. Such freedom from editorial dictation by the govern- ment was a vast advantage to the publisher. There was immediate response to Editor Bennett's plaint; the subscribers rallied and not only paid up their subscriptions but made him donations and loans. Ella E. Gibson, who wrote "The Godly Women of the Bible" ("by an Ungodly Woman of the nineteenth century"), lent him $300, and in a short 178 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT time he had as much as a thousand dollars in gifts and loans. His most steadfast friend was a young Jewish merchant named Morris Altman, who sup- ported him financially and ran a six-inch business card advertising his $50,000 stock of dry goods, mil- linery, etc., at 301-303 Sixth avenue. Altman was a humanitarian employer, an innovator in providing seats for his girl clerks, shortening their hours, and closing early on Saturday. Through all the years, his personal appearance is quite distinct to me, per- haps because he was a man of striking good looks and wore his clothes and his high hat so well, and flashed across his pleasant smile to us printers at our cases, with a bow as polite as he could have made anywhere. He died that summer at 39 years of age. 5 -- EVENTS AND OBSERVATIONS The evangelist Moody, with his singing partner, Sankey, played New York the season of '75-'76, occupying the Hippodrome (heretofore mentioned as Gilmore's Garden) on Fourth Avenue for some six weeks at a computed cost to the angels of $250,000. His meetings were reported for The Truth Seeker by Prentice Mulford, who wrote under the name of "Ichabod Crane, a Christian Worker." I went one night, and thought the proceedings less entertaining, even, than Victoria Woodhull's lecture, which had proved, as it were, a "flop." To hear Moody at that time, Mr. William Plotts, now of California, came ashore from a schooner in the bay. Brother Plotts had his doubts about religion at the time, and they have not since been resolved. He FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 179 worked the oil fields of Pennsylvania as the Boy Contractor, got a theory about oil drilling, and with some well-digging machinery and bad notes went West to try it out. Some years ago he sold his properties to the Standard Oil Company. It was in the early part of 1876 that a Scotch Freethinker and Positivist, George L. Henderson, a brother of the Iowa Representative, D.B. Hender- son, speaker of the House, 56th Congress, leased the building at 141 Eighth Street, which contained a meeting room, 40 x 60, and good office accommoda- tions. He named the premises SCIENCE HALL, and The Truth Seeker moved thither, printing-office and all. Features of the Freethought work of the centen- nial year, besides the organization of the National Liberal League, were the lectures of the former Rev. W.S. Bell of Brooklyn, B.F. Underwood of Massachusetts, and of J.L. York of San Jose, Cal. Underwood told of being catechized by his orthodox grandmother. "I hear, Benjamin," she said, "that you have become one of those dreadful Unitarians." He replied: "No, that is quite false. I call myself a Philosophical Materialist." She took comfort from his words, saying: "Well, I am glad to hear that. I couldn't believe you had lost your re- ligion to the extent of being a Unitarian." Comstock was perniciously active. He put John A. Lant of Toledo, Ohio, in jail for matter appear- ing in his paper called The Sun, and procured the indictment of Dr. E.B. Foote for issuing "Words of Pearl" in a small pamphlet containing hints for 180 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT the prevention of conception. Dr. Foote's trial before Judge Benedict and the fine imposed cost him $5,000. Comstock thereby made a formidable and implacable enemy who in his subsequent prosecutions he was to find facing him or working back of the defense. For the full Comstock saga the reader is referred to the book, "Anthony Comstock, Roundsman of the Lord," by Heywood Broun and Margaret Leech, 1927, and The Truth Seeker files. Liberal exchanges were the Boston Investigator, Banner of Light (Boston), the Religio-Philosophical Journal (these last two Spiritualist); Common Sense, published by Col. R. Peterson, Paris, Texas; Prometheus, a magazine, Charles P. Somerby, 139 Eighth Street; Dr. Foote's Health Monthly, New York; Hull's Crucible, Boston, and Davis's Battle Ax (location unknown). What I call the best thing in the Third Volume was Charles Stephenson's poem "Our Father in Heaven" (p. 374). Stephenson died in 1877 at Rock Island, Ill., aged 24. Bennett began June 17 to reprint Haeckel's "Doctrine of Affiliation or Descent Theory" out of the "History of Creation," then just published in America. It was my weekly "take" as copy to be put in type. Quotations from Haeckel ran in the paper so long that by the time they were finished we had moved into Clinton Place, and I had be- come foreman and assistant editor. Then I wrote a summary of them. Bennett had published in 1876 his "World's Sages, Infidels, and Thinkers," written by himself, by his FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 181 office assistant, S.H. Preston, by A.L. Rawson, by numerous of the living characters mentioned in it, and by other helpful friends. 6 -- ORIGIN OF A FAMOUS PASSAGE In 1875, Grant sent to Congress his message containing the famous church taxation paragraph. In 1876, at Philadelphia, led by Francis Elling- wood Abbot, editor of The Index (Free Religious), the National Liberal League was organized in Con- cert Hall, Chestnut Street, July 14, and there were adopted the Nine Demands of Liberalism, which The Truth Seeker has printed as its political plat- form for many years. All this is familiar history. One interesting in- cident connected with Grant's message has never been published. In seeking information from Stephen Pearl Andrews with regard to govern- mental or official affairs, I inquired whether he thought it probable that the Presidents themselves wrote all of the messages they transmitted to Con- gress. He replied it was certain they did not. Heads of departments contributed to them, he said, and recommendations by advisers were included. For an example, Mr. Andrews then mentioned Grant's church taxation paragraph of 1875, say- ing that he himself and a group of liberals had prepared a statement on the subject, and procur- ing an appointment with the President at the White House, had brought it to his attention. So that was the origin of Grant's recommendation that all 182 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT property, whether ecclesiastical or corporate, be equally taxed. "I would call your attention," said the message, "to the importance of correcting an evil that, if permitted to continue, will probably lead to great trouble in our land before the close of the nine- teenth century. It is the acquisition of vast amounts of untaxed church property. In 1850, I believe, the church property of the United States, which paid no tax, municipal or state, amounted to $83,000,000. In 1860, the amount had doubled. In 1875, it is about $1,000,000,000. By 1900, with- out a check, it is safe to say this property will reach a sum exceeding $3,000,000,000. So vast a sum, receiving all the protection of government without its proportion of the burdens and expenses of the same, will not be looked upon acquiescently by those who have to pay the taxes. In a growing country, where real estate enhances so rapidly with time as in the United States, there is scarcely a limit to the wealth that may be acquired by cor- porations, religious or otherwise, if allowed to re- tain real estate without taxation. The contemplation of so vast a property as here alluded to, without taxation, may lead to sequestration without con- stitutional authority, and through blood. I would suggest the taxation of all property equally, whether church or corporation." This recommendation, as sent to Congress, was modified to admit of the exemption of a limited amount of church property. The body of it origi- nated with the Freethinkers who organized the Na- tional Liberal League the next year. FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 183 The Truth Seeker of October 7, 1876, records the death of James Lick, the Californian philanthropist who had given $60,000 toward the erection of Paine Memorial Hall in Boston. James Lick was a native of Fredericksburg, Pa., born there August 25, 1796, and through his grand- father a son of the @@@@ American Revolution. At 25 he was a New Yorker, but not prosper- ous. He went thence to Buenos Aires, and made pianos to sell to the natives. He bought hides and brought them to the United States, and then spent eleven years manu- facturing and selling pianos in Peru. He went to San Francisco (Yerba Buena) in 1847, when the place had only a thousand inhabitants, and bought real estate. He made millions selling it. Amongst his later holdings was a flour mill near San Jose, which cost him $200,000, but brought only $60,000, when sold for the Paine Hall fund. In his will he gave his money back to California in the form of the Lick Observatory at Mount Hamilton, which belongs to the California University; donations to the Academy of Science, a home for aged women, free baths, Pioneer Hall, and other benefactions, none of them religious, 184 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT but all, as he intended and hoped, contributing to human progress. He died October 1, 1876. There will be more about James Lick in subsequent ob- servations. NOTE -- Lately I gave a list of editors who had first worked on The Truth Seeker as composers. I omitted one who re- sorted to the case only to set up matter for his own use as circulars. This was Edward Dobson, employed thirty years ago and previously thereto as book wrapper and shipper and a pick-up man. "Teddy" thought and dis- coursed on high themes, even then, and before he was twenty-one lectured at the Liberal Club on "Spontaneous Generation." An old-timer, in view of the lecturer's juve- nility, said he believed the present generation was becoming altogether too spontaneous. I had not seen Teddy for about twenty years when he walked into this office (June, 1928), a man of fifty-two and white-haired. He has had an editorial position on the Brooklyn Standard-Union for a quarter of a century, and is now dramatic critic. **** **** Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship. Bank of Wisdom, Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 **** **** CHAPTER X. 1 -- IN THE TRUTH SEEKER OFFICE. THROUGHOUT 1876 the heading of The Truth Seeker had presented each week a rather poor picture of Dr. Bennett with a book on the table before him, some chemistry ap- paratus on his right, a library behind him, and a globe and telescope on his left. We may infer that in commercial enterprises theretofore he had @@@@ AN IDEALIZED EDITOR followed the fashion and embellished his advertis- ing matter with his portrait. Now, beginning with the first number in 1877, he substituted for his own a picture of Benjamin Franklin and made editorial 185 186 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT mention of the change, saying "There is no more fitting man whose face should grace the heading of The Truth Seeker than the great American scientist and Liberal, Benjamin Franklin." When in the first week of '76 a duel took place between Fred May and James Gordon Bennett of the New York Herald, he took the precaution to write: "It is, perhaps, needless to state that there is no rela- tionship between the Bennett of The Herald and he of The Truth Seeker." He would not be mis- taken for a duelist. I must quote a sample of the style of Editor Ben- nett's assistant, S.H. Preston. "But the great un- written gospel of Nature," Preston wrote grandly, "revealed in the rock and the rose, in the intuitions of the human heart and in the fiery scriptures of circling suns and constellations, and uttered in all the myriad mighty voices of the wondrous Uni- verse, shall never fail. To the bigot who would force upon us a self-contradictory, revolting old book (which men may mangle, rats may nibble, and time moulder) we offer the glorious gospels strewn everywhere by the generous hands of our universal Mother, whose sublime lessons speak to the consciences of men in the stars and sunbeams, in the winds and waves and woodlands, and which will be everlastingly taught by ten thousand tongues of Nature through all the corridors of eternity." "Sam," as we called Preston, was a little man but he wielded a mighty pen. The boys used to say that he grasped it with both hands. He had the liquor and tobacco (chewing) habits, which made him not so agreeable to Bennett, who had neither. FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 187 Dr. Sarah B. Chase, who underwent some perse- cution at the hands of Anthony Comstock on ac- count of a hygienic syringe which she advertised, took Preston in hand and reformed him. He would have been a miracle of grace had his reformation been brought about by a conversion to religion. Mrs. Chase had a little daughter Gracia, about ten years old, who showed promise as an elocutionist and recited verses at the Paine anniversary cele- bration. She adopted the stage as a career, and was successful. Bennett procured a copy of Viscount Amberley's "Analysis of Religious Belief" and announced that he should reprint it, a promise he fulfilled. There was much controversy over the work, especially among the Russell and Amberley families in Eng- land. The son of Amberley, Bertrand Russell, is a distinguished mathematician and radical. The Rev. G.H. Humphrey, author of an attempt at constructive criticism entitled "Hell and Damna- tion," challenged the editor of The Truth Seeker to debate Christianity and Infidelity with him. The debate ran through many numbers of the paper and was printed in a book of more than 500 pages. Humphrey was a rare Fundamentalist, or would be so reckoned today, but he and Bennett became excellent friends. In the debate the minister stressed the immorality of Infidels, and Bennett replied with page after page of clerical offenders, concerning whom Humphrey took high grounds, declaring that their damnation was just; and then he made fresh attacks on Infidels. The Truth Seeker then ran a department of "Notes and Clip- 188 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT pings" on the front page, and here were gathered current instances of clerical delinquencies. Not many years later there was a report that the Rev. Mr. Humphrey had been found away from home, I believe with his wife's niece, and fragments of the seventh commandment in evidence. It looked like a point for Bennett, but he declined to publish the facts which I had handed in as a piece of copy. Bennett read the story and put it in the waste- basket. "George," he said, "I think the tempta- tion was too great!" I asked: "Why, have you seen the young woman?" He said: "No, but I have seen Humphrey's wife." Bennett had great charity to- ward human weaknesses when he knew the cir- cumstances. The postal regulations in 1876 put no restric- tion on the amount of advertisements and paid reading notices a paper might carry at the rate of a cent per pound; and Bennett availed himself freely of these liberal provisions by placing com- mendatory notices of his publications, with prices attached, on every page of The Truth Seeker. All continued articles, and he had one or more of his own productions running most of the time, were made into tracts, pamphlets, or books. Production was cheap. The price of stereotype plates was un- der 20 cents a page; composition, 30 cents, as against a dollar in each case today. As a consequence he could price his tracts and pamphlets at the rate of four pages for one cent. The sale of cheap liter- ature by mail was facilitated by shinplasters, paper currency in fractional parts of a dollar. The hours of labor were 7 to 6. FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 189 The interesting returns of the 1876 Hayes-Til- den presidential election were printed in The Truth Seeker's news column Nov. 11. As they were there given, Tilden had 197 electoral votes; Hayes but 158, and 6 were doubtful. A recount reversed the result; but such turmoil ensued that Victoria Wood- hull, appearing upon the platform of Chickering hall, two weeks later, with a Bible in her hand, drew from the sacred volume the prediction that before New Year's the country would be involved in hopeless anarchy, revolution, and the most san- guinary war the world had ever seen. Not an- other President should ever be inaugurated under the dome of the Capitol at Washington, she said, but monarchy would be our next form of govern- ment, and Grant the dictator. The text which Mrs. Woodhull read from the Bible appeared to support that view. Liberal papers making their first appearance in 1876 were: Evolution, Asa K. Butts, 34 Dey street; John Syphers' Agitator; The Radical Review, Bos- ton, Benjamin R. Tucker; Freethought journal, Toronto, Ont.; The Age of Reason, New York, Seth Wilbur Payne. Among liberal writers and new contributors to The Truth Seeker were: A.L. Rawson, George Francis Train, E.C. Walker, S.H. Preston, Horace Traubel, Maria M. deford, W.F. Jamieson, Susan H. Wixon, C. Fannie Allyn, James Parton, Benj. R. Tucker. Of these, Mr. Walker and Mr. Tucker are living at the date of this entry in 1928. Of the surviving workers in the liberal field as far back as the Centennial year is Felix Adler, 190 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT head of the Ethical Culture Society; while the man who reported his lectures for The Truth Seeker still has, I hope, "the cheerful habit of living." This is D.W. Craig, last of San Diego, Cal., who has wielded a fearless typewriter up to now. But he had no machine then. His handwriting, how- ever, a discriminating compositor would prefer to either typewriting or reprint. He used the system of shorthand taught by Mrs. Eliza Boardman Burnz, teacher in Cooper Institute, the lady who later prevailed upon Bennett to introduce the lim- ited spelling reform of dropping the final e from have, give, and live. 2 -- IT HAS COME AT LAST. On November 1, 1875, Bennett had begun his "Open Letter to Jesus Christ." On January 15, 1876, he published an article which The Scientific American had declined, by the Hon. A.B. Bradford of Pennsylvania, a former clergyman, on "How Do Marsupials Propagate Their Kind?" He made these pieces into tracts and sold them. In the num- ber of the paper for November, 17, 1877, he an- nounced in the heading of an article, "IT HAS COME AT LAST," and wrote: "(we week ago was announced in these columns the arrest in Boston, by Anthony Comstock, of E. H. Heywood of Princeton, Mass. I was not then aware that the time of my own arrest was so near at hand, but at that very moment a warrant had been issued against me, and was only awaiting the pleasure of Mr. Comstock to serve it. FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 191 "On Monday last, a little after the hour of twelve, while busily engaged in my office preparing matter for this issue of the paper, that noted cham- pion of Christianity, with a deputy United States marshal at his elbow, visited me with the informa- tion that he had a warrant for my arrest. I in- quired upon what authority and upon what charge. He replied by the authority of the United States and upon the charge of sending obscene and blas- phemous matter through the mails. In reply to my enquiry what the objectionable matter was he exhibited two tracts, one entitled 'An Open Letter to Jesus Christ,' and the other, 'How Do Marsupials Propagate Their Kind?' He then demanded the amount of those tracts that were on hand, which were delivered to him. He showed a package of tracts, etc., which had been put up at this office and sent by mail to S. Bender, Squall Village, N. J., and a registered letter receipt for the money accompanying an order for The Truth Seekers, tracts, etc., which was signed in this office. I asked him whether the party to whom the tracts were ad- dressed was a real party, and he had opened his package, or a bogus party, and the letter ordering the tracts a mere decoy letter, such as he had used on other occasions. He acknowledged that it was the latter -- that he had written the order in an as- sumed name." Mr. Bennett passively accompanied his captors to the room of U.S. Commissioner Shields in the Post-office building and furnished bail in the sum of $1,500. He did not name his surety, but of 192 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT course it was Dr. E.B. Foote. He then, in The Truth Seeker, expressed his indignation that a man "hard upon sixty years of age, and who for nearly a half century have been a supporter of our gov- ernment, am now arranged by it [he meant ar- raigned] as an offender against it for sending inde- cent and blasphemous matter through the mails." Diligent in business, the Doctor closes the article by saying: "It is hoped that in the emergency that soon must come, those who know themselves to be indebted to The Truth Seeker will be prompt to pay, and that those who feel like subscribing for the paper to help it through its trouble will be ready to do so. ... Those who send for books and pam- phlets will also help push the cause along and ren- der The Truth Seeker more able to weather the ap- proaching storm. May it not be expected that every liberal in the country will do his duty?" The firm of Henderson & Brown, proprietors of Science Hall and doing a coal and real estate bus- iness therein, started a defense fund with a pledge of $25 before the next number of The Truth Seeker went to press. Bennett's temperature rose rapidly during the following week, and he had in the next number a white-hot article on the miserable Comstock's hideous offenses. The article was seven columns in length, and addressed to the proposition, "Ameri- can Liberty: Is It a Sham?" He found much to be said in support of the proposition that it is. In prospect, following the successful prosecution of The Truth Seeker, he saw the writings of Darwin, FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 193 Spencer, Huxley, Tyndall, Proctor, Haeckel, Draper, Fiske, and others summarily squelched. Meanwhile Comstock was prosecuting Ezra H. Heywood in Massachusetts for selling "Cupid's Yokes" and Trall's "Sexual Physiology." The attack on freedom of speech in 1877 created quite a furor, and increased the circulation of The Truth Seeker, while letters of sympathy poured in and a defense fund grew apace. There have been so many such attacks on the freedom of the press in the half century which has since elapsed that the people have grown weary of protesting and little excitement is caused by them now. Occasionally we see statistics of the number of persons doing time for talking too much or saying the wrong thing, but we take only the mildest interest in the figures. In 1877 such outrages in the name of the people aroused indignation. 3 -- A FEW PARTICULARS. To mention a few of the Events of 1877: Part of the Paine farm at New Rochelle was sold at auction; a split took place in the New York Liberal Club in May and the "radical" element decided to meet thereafter in Science Hall; it was reported from Revere, Mass., that Lemuel K. Washburn, a Unitarian heretic, was making things lively in his parish; in Bell county, Texas, a party of Ku Klux lured a Freethinking physician, Dr. J.A. Russell, from his house and binding him to a tree, gave him one hundred lashes. Dr. Russell had given "In- fidel" lectures. The whipping party left a placard 194 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT threatening to burn out or hang any Infidel lecturer who should appear in that neighborhood. A fea- ture of The Truth Seeker was the Ingersoll- Observer controversy, later published under the title of "Paine Vindicated." The New York Free- thinkers' Association was organized, with Dr. T.L. Brown of Binghamton as president and H.L. Green as corresponding secretary. The Rev. O.B. Frothingham, modernist or liberal clergyman, gave weekly discourses in Masonic Temple. The First Annual Congress of the National Liberal League was held at Rochester, N.Y., October 26. Henry Ward Beecher delivered his famous sermon, De- cember 14, repudiating the doctrine of hell. Walt Whitman made the principal address at the Paine celebration in Philadelphia, Horace Traubel recited the poem he had written for the occasion. The Society of Humanity held meetings in Science Hall, addressed by Thaddeus B. Wakeman, Hugh Byron Brown and Albert L. Rawson. A few weeks before the arrest of Bennett by Comstock he had begun a discussion with a man who signed his name Cyrus Romulus R. Teed, of Moravia, N.Y., on the proposition that "Jesus is not only Divine, but the Lord God, Creator of Heaven and Earth." That also was published in a book, "The Bennett-Teed Discussion" (1878). Teed was more interesting as a character than as a writer. He was another of those hollow-globe the- orists, only instead of holding with Brewster that the hollow inside of the globe could be reached by sailing through a hole at the north pole, he taught FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 195 that we were actually living there, that is, on the inner surface of a sphere. A few years after the debate with Bennett he moved to New York and appeared to be domiciled with some women he had converted to his views. He came occasionally to the flat where my mother and I were keeping house, and perhaps with a view to gaining my ad- hesion, set forth his pretensions. He had been understood to be a celibate like Paul, but he also claimed the Pauline liberty: "Have we not power to lead about a sister?" That he should allow women to feed him he argued from Luke viii, 2, 3, where certain, women are named who accompanied Jesus and "ministered to him of their substance." What Jesus would accept Teed would not disdain. And the small matter of his relations with these females he settled by identifying himself as the man named in the first verse of the forty-fifth chapter of Isaiah: "Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two-leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut." Giving the words a close anatomical interpretation, he found there his warrant for conjugal association with women. He founded a colony in Florida and for a long time published a magazine advocating his sys- tem of geology and of religion. When he died his followers looked for his resurrection on the third day. At the period when I was seeing him frequently the telephone had but recently come into use. He said that he knew how sight as well as sound could 196 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT be transmitted, thus realizing television, but should leave that for others to work out, since he had a more important mission. 4 -- MENTIONED IN PASSING. Our household, that followed the New York cus- tom and got wheels under it regularly once a year, had moved in May, 1876, from Fourth avenue to apartments in East Eleventh street near Second avenue, a quiet and restful quarter of the city. While we lived there ghouls stole the body of A.T. Stewart from the churchyard of St. Mark's-in-the- Bouwerie, just around the comer. I am told that the name of A.T. Stewart means nothing to this generation. It must have been a household word in mine, for before I left Surry I had heard of Stew- art's great white building occupying a block above Tenth street between Fourth avenue and Broadway. Stewart was the pioneer department-store organi- zer. His grave was robbed for ransom. Of my own advancement there is nought to record beyond an attempt to read what books there were in the world, and a short-lived ambition to learn music and be a pianist -- this and what came of it. Events I could not control led me to discon- tinue practice after a few unfruitful lessons. But then there was left my teacher, a girl of eighteen, answering to the name of Doris, who is not so sum- marily to be dismissed. She had been a music stu- dent under Gottschalk, who at his public concerts brought her out as a star pupil. Her hands, beauti- fully formed and remarkably developed as to the FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 197 hitting power of their digits on a keyboard, had been modeled by the sculptor J.Q.A. Ward. She at this time gave pupils piano lessons in the morn- ing, and in the afternoon posed for a class of art girls in Brooklyn. To ask such a being as that to spend her evenings drumming scales diatonic and chromatic into the head and hands of a boy who had no talent, and who would rather be reading or romping with her, seemed to me, to a growing de- gree, irrational, although there was half a dollar in it for her. The nearness, herself occupying a chair beside the stool I sat on, had danger in it, which I felt and suspected she did. One evening when the struggle between me and the instrument was more than usual disharmonious, I detected a quaver in her voice and tears in her eyes; and when I dropped my hands and swung about toward her, she manifested relief. Her face, I thought, expressed more than I had seen in it before, and her smile now was illuminative. We spoke to each other on new terms, with different words and accents. Per- former and instrument also underwent a parallel change, for Love, as it were, took up the Harp of Life, and smote on all its chords with might. The result was the music of the player's old sweet song, the only one he knows. The roles of teacher and pupil then became one with my suspended study of the Harmony of the Gospels. So thoughtless, un- stable and impulsive is youth; This young woman had been cherishing some depressive memories of a recent misadventure that would have caused a less spirited girl to hesitate between suicide and a 198 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT fast life; she having, a short time before I knew her, felt obliged to rid herself of a lover who had brought her to New York. The man, twice her age, married and endowed with agreeable qualities that would content any woman who might be the exclusive beneficiary of them, turned out to be a rover in love as in business -- for he was a traveling man; and when there came to her the clearest evi- dence of his perfidy, she dismissed him with finality. The tale that had won her sympathy, and so her consent to accompany him, was the old one, though doubtless new to her, and to the average woman once. Its theme is an uncongenial wife who won't divorce him. It transpired that this bird lived with his wife, who was a good sport. The one genuine thing about the man was his evident infatuation with Doris, but he had resorted to lying, which is a great aid in matters of the affections. In a cer- tain behalf the novelists write with truth to life. They become authentic on the theme that the daugh- ter who leaves home for the good times promised in the great city is reluctant to return thither when disillusionment comes. That was the case with Doris. Hence she took a room in the Eleventh street house; asked her father to ship there the piano she had left behind her, and with a strong resolve began "on her own." She had admirers, whom my watchfulness discouraged. I was so ludicrously exclusive I wouldn't even eat the candy they sent her. The parents were divorced and her mother, domiciled in nearby rooms, cooperated with her in music teaching, and chaperoned her at FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 199 the art class. This mother, a Spiritualist and not bigoted, found no fault now with the domestic sit- uation of her daughter; rather she thought it ideal, and was friendly toward myself. As when women start a fashion they go farther than men, who do not have to be told by the pope where to stop leav- ing off clothes; so when they are liberal they are more liberal than men also. I heard of a young woman in New York, living in bliss with the man of her heart; but being convinced that the exclusive- ness of monogamy was contrary to the law of God, she sacrificed her happiness to go with one she merely respected, thus following her convictions. I never knew a man so conscientious as that. Women know more perhaps, or maybe less. I will not dogmatize on that point. I have met no other person who took Spiritualism so seriously as Doris's mother did. Where a devout Christian would see the hand of providence, she acknowledged the help of the immortals. I was no convinced believer, and neither was Doris. Nevertheless the mother gave the angels credit for bringing us "en rapport," as it were. A reader of The Truth Seeker and an ad- mirer of Bennett, it was more than she had ever hoped that her daughter should find love and refuge and happiness in The Truth Seeker family. She was a lovely spirituelle being. Doris imparted to me, in such a manner as one would affect in saying that some things are unaccountable: "Mama liked you before I did and thinks you are smart. She says she wishes she had as bright a son -- her way of telling me I am not so bright as you are." The light-hearted creature, I regret to say, saw in other 200 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT young men certain qualities, such as style, speed, and spending-money, that to an extent compensated for inability to quote Spencer's definition of evolu tion, to argue abstractly, or to spell hard words off- hand, in which last accomplishment she acknowl- edged herself to be weak. By Doris Spiritualism was at times defended; at other times humorously viewed. She must have been in the latter mood when in the front room one evening our Spiritual- ist contingent had grouped themselves about the table, fingers and thumbs making contact, waiting for manifestations. Some of the sitters believed they were developing mediumistic powers. Doris wrote on a filmy piece of paper, just off a caramel, the words: "You are on the right track; meet every night." Standing on a chair I slipped the message into the seance-room by way of the transom, at the right moment for a draft of air to carry it to the center of the table. We heard next day that Brother David Hoyle, a firm believer in spirit intercourse, pronounced it a genuine communication. Doris had expected her playful act would be understood and merely smiled at by the indulgent sitters, and never dared to enlighten Mr. Hoyle. After some months of such felicity for Doris and me as that which is predicated of companionate marriage, Doris's father, left alone, urgently invited her to come home. The mother preferred to take the daughter west with her, to the regions of Utah. For expenses she needed my help, and Mr. Bennett, asking no questions, lent me seventy-five dollars. He had no bank account; he carried his money in a long pocketbook, which, when I made the touch, FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 201 he drew forth from an interior pocket, and them counted out the bills without comment. The di- vulging of this youthful experience is mitigated, I hope, because it brings out a characteristic of Dr. Bennett's that otherwise would not appear. He could do a favor without preaching a sermon on the imprudence that put people where they want favors. Mrs. Bennett, like him in being helpful, was as motherly as though she had learned the art by raising a family of sons instead of being child- less all her life. When Doris went West, I roped her trunk, which was uncertain as to hinges and lock. It was like winding heartstrings about it and pulling them tight. Years ago I was admonished by a thoughtful friend that such mementoes of his youthful affairs is a man has retained ought to be destroyed for the sake of those they might possibly annoy if preserved to pass beyond his care. I thought the counsel good, and so, going often to a small box in which certain letters and pictures and verses @@@@ had been kept for mem- ory's lake, I at each visit drew something out for a last look or read- ing, and then ditched it for good. This braid of hair with its message I once carried to the fire and made the right motion for consigning it to the flame, but my hand refused to relax when it should 202 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT have done so, and came back with the words, "Re- member me." Some day another hand than my own will grope in the pockets of clothes I am not wear- ing, nor am to wear again, and will bring forth a bunch of keys. One thin key will unlock the drawer in a safe that holds the original of this pic- ture -- this braid of brown hair, bright and glossy after all the years, stitched to a fragment of paper; the girlish writing almost unfaded. The hand that draws it out then may cast the relic where it will. I was now nineteen, nearing twenty, and through with women. 5 -- FRIENDS. When I say that in 1877 the family occupied a flat at 308 Third avenue, about Twenty-fourth street, I expect the old New Yorker to interject: "Near the Bull's Head Hotel, where the circus peo- ple used to bivouac." That is so, but for old New York, as I saw it, I refer the reader to James L. Ford's book, "Forty-Odd Years in the Literary Shop (1921), which covers the same decades as my own observations. Third avenue has decayed in the last half-century as a consequence of the elevated trains running close to second-story win- dows. Nearby No. 308, in the cigar store of Sam Schendel, I made the acquaintance of a boy of my own age from Tunkhannock, Pa., one Henry H. Sherman, who was a Munson stenographer of re- markable skill. We were chums from that time until his death more than forty years later. He FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 203 lived in Gramercy square, near neighbor to Sam- uel J. Tilden, for whom he occasionally did short- hand work. He had luck in picking up positions. For a time he was secretary to a police commis- sioner of the name of McLean. In that place he was in receipt of tickets, which he shared with me, to all shows that required police attendance. I saw enough prize-fights then to sate my interest in the game, and have not cared to see one since. Perhaps the last public employment or office held by Sherman was undersheriff when Tamsen had charge of Ludlow Street Jail. Few will remember Sheriff Tamsen's notice to the police that "der chail is oud," when his prisoners got away from him, or the public reaction when a young lady stenographer resigned her situation because Sher- man swore at her. The German influence pre- vailed so strongly in the jail during the Tamsen administration that The Sun spelled the under- sheriff's name Schurmann. After I had learned shorthand Sherman gave me remunerative work transcribing his notes. The typewriting of records was not then required. Typewriters did not at once displace script. They came into use in 1873 and their Golden jubilee was celebrated the same year as The Truth Seeker's. Sherman, who pro- fessed the Episcopalian faith, worshiped at St. George's in Rutherford Place, under Rainsford. He never pressed too closely the language of scripture. His term for the unknown, for first causes and final results, was a "Jigger." Life be- gan with a jigger, he said. The soul? Oh, that was a kind of a jigger. Gods, angels, spirits, all 204 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT undefinable things, were jiggers, equivalent to the sailor's gilguy and gadget. I have found the word a handy one and use it every week when marking copy for the printer. He died about 1920. It is impossible, as I may already have shown in these papers, for a writer to stick to his chronology. From the date of my first meeting with Sherman, I have just spanned forty-odd years to mention his death. And while in the second decade of the nine- teen hundreds for the moment, I will set down an in- cident of the century's 'teens. Four men whom I had met under divers circumstances had shown, in one way or another, that they regarded me as some- thing more than a speaking acquaintance. Their attitude was rather that of cordial friendship. I conceived the idea of making them friends of one another. They were Abel and Merriweather of Montclair, and Sherman and Coburn of New York. Abel was New York agent for the Titusville Iron Works; Merriweather handled the foreign trade of the Lucas Paint Company and was an Anglican by way of his wife; Coburn was an engineer who specialized in dams and is said to have planned more of them than anyone else. To the boys of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in my son's time, he was known as "Pa" Coburn. Sher- man was now a lawyer. I got these four good men together at a luncheon one day somewhere in the vicinity of Fraunce's Tavern. They seemed to be well met. It was worth something to me to hear them explain to one another how they happened to be friends with this harmless fellow "Mac." My presence embarrassed them not at all, nor re- FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 205 strained them in their drolleries of which I was the theme. Each found a different excuse for being found in my company, and then, momentarily seri- ous, told why they had left their offices on a busy day to meet men who were friends of Mac. With roasting and toasting they did me up brown. On the whole it was so good to be there that Mr. Abel proposed future gatherings, and as the oldest man present he would invite the others to be his guests. So swiftly the years have gone that it seems only the other day, yet not one of my four guests sur- vives. James Russell Lowell observed that the pen- alty for prolonging life's journey is that a man shall find every milestone marking the grave of a friend. **** **** Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship. This disk, its printout, or copies of either are to be copied and given away, but NOT sold. Bank of Wisdom, Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 **** **** CHAPTER XI. 1 -- GUESTS AT 308 THIRD AVENUE. AMONG the persons who left an imprint on my memory by rallying round at this Third avenue flat was Joaquin Miller, Poet of the Sierras, not long home from his London "triumphs." While Miller bloomed modestly as a poet, he wore clothes not designed to escape attention. He was "loud" in this respect, I thought, and inclined to pose. His big slouch hat and long hair were never worn for comfort. He kept the hat on after enter- ing a room in order that those present might admire the whole outfit, including his boots. I could have told him that men didn't wear their trousers stuck into the legs of calfskin boots where I came from. Calfskins as there worn were for dress occasions, and fashion required that the pants fall to the in- step. His velveteen vest was crossed from pocket to pocket by a gold cable that might be a piece of chain-harness gilded over. "Mr. Miller is a gifted poet," said our nattiest dresser, Mr. Cooley, "but not the gentleman. A gentleman does not wear rings on the fingers of both hands." Miller pro- fessed to be a good deal of a puritan as regards women, who, he demanded, should before all things be modest. Mulford's wife told of his meeting a 206 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 207 woman author in London one evening, who shat- tered his illusions. This woman said to Joaquin: "Mr. Miller, do you know what line of poetry you bring to my mind?" He thought she meant one of his own creations, and blandly asked: "Which line is it?" And she gave him the bold eye as she quoted: "Make me a child again just for tonight!" Miller glared and left her. The lady was spoofing Mr. Miller. There was John Swinton, the journalist, then on The Sun, probably -- a casual caller; and there was a French lady, Mademoiselle Minnie Leconte, an ac- quaintance of the family or group, who appeared to be his protegee. Nobody commented on that, and I will not. But Minnie, flush with press theater- tickets that Mr. Swinton gave her, fixed upon me as her escort. Thus with her under my wing I went to see the elder Sothern who was great, and plays to which my means would not admit me; and it is probably by the same favor that I saw Janau- schek and Modjeska, who, I have to admit, did not entertain me. About 1889 I attended a play where the younger Sothern took the part of an auctioneer, which was a thriller. just the other day, as it seems, though it was five years ago, I saw this actor, not on the stage, and he was an older man than was his father when Minnie Leconte went with me on John Swinton's tickets to his performance in a play making fun of George the Count Johannes. This time the younger Sothern was attending the funeral of Mrs. Eva A. Ingersoll (Feb. 4, 1923). Ned (Edward Fitch) Underhill, a boyish man of fifty, a stenographer of the old school, once a pupil 208 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT of T.C. Leland, held an important position in the Surrogate's court. While I rarely saw him at pub- lic meetings, he foregathered with the Freethinkers socially. He had been through the fire a dozen years earlier when the police raided a club of social radicals in session in a hall on Broadway and he got taken along with Albert Brisbane, the father of Arthur, and other persons in attendance. He de- fended the club in the newspapers, admitting he had been present, not in his capacity as Tribune re- porter (which was then his employment), but as a guest. The reformers didn't take it lying down so much then as they are inclined to do now. It is only a few years ago that at the behest of a Catholic archbishop in New York the police broke up a birth-control meeting in the Town Hall, and got by with less hard knocks than those got who sixty years earlier raided this social group on Broadway. Underhill offered his parlors in a house on a downtown street for meetings of the Fourth New York Liberal League, and furthermore showed up very well as an entertainer himself, for he was a piano player, an expert whistler, and an excellent storyteller. He had a red-haired and rather young wife named Evelyn, of whom I saw little, and heard more or less not to her discredit for benevo- lence. They held advanced ideas on social freedom. ON PREJUDICE. When I was talking with young Doctor Ned Foote one evening, he asked me if I really did not think that religion kept girls straight -- such was FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 209 the word he employed -- who without belief in it would go wrong. Now take Catholic girls, he ar- gued, and so on. I said: "I don't know anything about the facts, do you?" He replied: "No, not the facts, but it is the common idea, and I doubt if I have ever heard it disputed, that Catholic girls put a high value on chastity." We were sitting just inside the door at the Liberal Club, waiting for the audience to come and for the proceedings to open. Doctor Ned, two years my senior, was a medical student at Bellevue. There was more of the con- versation, and I may come back to the subject of it. Ned was brought up in the Unitarian church, since that was his father's religious connection, and came into Liberalism because he found there his allies in the battle with Anthony Comstock. Now, in New England, whence I lately had come, Catholic girls bore another reputation than that he gave them. They were in fact supposed to be on the stroll; and a "History" compiled by Dr. W.W. Sanger quotes statistics of a confirmatory nature. Of course there is or was a reason. The kind of people coming most numerously to this country at any given time will, while adjusting themselves economically and socially, furnish the largest addi- tions to the outcast population; and that was the period of Irish Catholic immigration. Later it was German, then Jewish, producing a change in the class of statistics gathered by Dr. Sanger. But this phenomenon of adjustment, while it might explain the Catholic girls in New England, had no bearing on Dr. Foote's proposition, which concerned those who had arrived. 210 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT However, old fellows have told me that street girls wore the usual Catholic beads, and that their rooms, like Catholic homes, contained religious ob- jects and pictures. At the time of this conversation with Doctor Ned I had known only one Catholic girl, and thereby hangs a tale appertaining to the year 1877, which the foregoing talk may excuse me for taking off the hook. Written some time ago, it has the appear- ance of interrupting the general narrative. Its opening is above the level of my style. THE WIND AND THE CURTAIN. Whoso searcheth the files of the Daily Graphic for the year 1877 shall at one place find, mayhap, words of praise bestowed upon a Swiss girl of eighteen years, member of a traveling musical en- semble which included her elder sister and that sis- ter's husband, who by misdirection when her "peo- ple" moved on to fill their next engagement, got left in New York with nothing but a handbag for luggage and only carfare in her porte-monnaie. This girl, it will be learned, talented, refined and accom- plished as she was, went direct to an intelligence office and, being aware that the situation of a ser- vant promised immediate board and lodging, pru- dently registered as a domestic, and then sat down to wait for an employer. Prentice Mulford put the piece in The Graphic, both to commend the girl's quick wit and good sense, and to question whether there were many American girls who would have FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 211 acted so promptly and wisely in a foreign city. An- ticipating. the younger reader's objection, at the mention of The Graphic, that Bernarr Macfadden had not at that date set up his tabloid newspaper, I will assure him there was a Graphic nevertheless -- a pioneer illustrated daily; and to speak of it is to evoke the name of the Positivist David G. Croly, its distinguished editor, with that of his wife Jennie June, and of Dr. William Augustus Croffut, the member of his staff who composed the puns and paragraphs and verses that other papers copied. Freethinkers twenty years later read Dr. Croffut as a contributor to The Truth Seeker and heard him as a lecturer. Mulford did a daily column of news and comment and some reporting and dramatic criticism for The Graphic, and Arthur B. Frost (died 1928) was an illustrator on the same paper. My mother, in quest of a maid, found the afore- said girl at the intelligence office and brought her home. If all girls ought to know cooking and housekeeping, then this was exactly the engagement the otherwise well-trained Hilda needed. And yet, although the difference between her prepared dishes and mother's was certainly remarkable, the inferior nature of hers could be overlooked in view of the graceful way she put them on the table. Stage training teaches one to move inside a limited space without bumping into persons or objects. I had not yet taken the first glance at the new maid, or be- come aware of her presence, when her baby-sized hand, with its cocked little-finger, placed food be- fore me, and I raised my eyes far enough to find out to whom the comely member belonged. I 212 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT surveyed a slender figure, a head of unruly blond hair perversely waved, and a face that would sink a thousand kicks. No one sympathetic with beauty in distress could have the unkindness to suggest that her potatoes, adamant against the insertion of a fork, needed to be boiled longer than tea. I gave her a cheerful grin; she smiled back and blushed. Hilda was still a new-comer when one evening as I sat reading in my room I heard unaccustomed notes issuing softly from the piano, which usually was mute. The sound soon drew me out of my se- clusion, since the words of the book I was reading did not go to music, and opened the way for con- versation with Hilda, who was doing the playing. Her first inquiry concerned the dinner that night, whether it had been well prepared. She let me know that criticism of the cooking was plainly heard by her in the kitchen and made her unhappy. That matter having been discussed, and when she had asked what tunes I liked and had played others which she held I ought to prefer, even singing a lit- tle, at my suggestion, in her small voice, the young lady related to me, as she had previously to Mul- ford, the events that had led to her trying house- work. Hilda spoke precise English, with an accent that sweetened it. She understood the continental languages, learned in traveling over Europe since childhood. Her housework done, Hilda's evenings now were open; I was always at home (economizing that season to pay back a loan with which Dr. Ben- nett had accommodated me in a pinch), and the movements of the rest of the household left us to FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 213 keep each other company. She kind-heartedly of- fered to teach me if I wished to study any of the varieties of speech that she happened to know. Or if I didn't play the piano already, she would show me how easy it was to acquire the art. On account of previous attempts at the piano, and the failure that had followed, I was dead as a pupil for that instrument, and instinctively cut it out. The ob- servant girl had decided I was reading too much in my room. "A change," she said in her individual English, "would do you so good." I ought to have seen a warning in the teaching proposition, but her lullabies had sung caution to sleep. She recom- mended French as a language one should know if one would be erudite, and I agreed on that tongue for study because I possessed a copy of Andrews and Batchelor's French Instructor: D. Appleton & Co., 1859. I have the same book by me now, with my name as she wrote it on a card pinned to a fly-leaf. Here was a perfectly artless girl. All her life she, like myself, had known nothing but work; and on hearing of the amount of study and practice and discipline she had been obliged to undergo, in famil- iarizing herself with the instruments she played, from the slide trombone to musical tumblers, I picked for myself, as preferable because easier, the labor that comes to a boy raised on a New England farm. We had only this one lesson book. My erroneous pronunciation of the French words made it needful that we should scan the book in unison, and this propinquity, since it excused our sitting on 214 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT a couch together, or she on the arm of my chair, ac- celerated a familiarity with each other far surpass- ing mine with the French language. No success I achieved went without its reward from her, or the reward might be offered in advance as a stimulant, or as an encouragement midway. We did not touch upon the subject of religion. I assumed she was an indifferent. That was an error. As an early riser, I left my room one Sun- day morning at dawn to go for a newspaper and to enjoy the air while it was cool and fresh. Writers have described the streets of New York as pleasant and enjoyable at that time of day, and I know they tell the truth. When I came back on this particular morning I met Hilda coming out at her door, dressed for the street. I thought perhaps she had decided to walk with me, and would have greeted her joyously and appropriately, but she eluded me and ran down the stairs. Then I remembered she had a small book in her hand. She must be a Catholic and on her way to early mass!" At this discovery a cloud lowered out of the sky between Hilda and me. She did not see it, but for me it was always there. No doubt there is a rule against a Catholic's doing anything secular be- fore mass. I have observed that the ingesting of food prior to receiving their savior is forbidden to those of that faith; but for a girl after many an evenin's good-night to evade a morning's good- morning in order first to go and see her priest -- well, I was no poacher. If he had the prior claim, let him hold it. FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 215 The French lessons went on, but the cloud did not lift. Without combating Hilda's Catholicism, which I so resented that I should surely have hurt her feelings if I had once begun, I made inquiry as to the restrictions preceding the taking of com- munion, and thus learned enough so I might infer why I had been dodged that Sunday morning. Came the day when Hilda's sister got into touch with her, and it did not appear to be one of unre- strained delight for Hilda. Inevitably came also her last night with us, and with me the parting was no calamity. I thought of a woman as possessed al- ready, who had given herself to the church, and didn't believe she ought to have two communions. She slept in the living room on the couch where we had sat to con the French Instructor, and where I had received so many encouragements to persevere and so many innocent rewards of merit. My room adjoined, being connected as to atmosphere and audition by a window which, when opened for the circulation of air, admitted of good-nights being said after both had retired. Anybody who has lived in those old-time flats, with dark bedrooms and a "well," knows the arrangement. To this room I retreated, promising good-byes in the morning. Lights were out. A voice said: "Good-night," and mine answered. In a few moments the voice re- peated: "Well, good-night." I resolutely responded: "Oh; yes; good-night. Bong repose." Silence for a short space, and then the voice was heard again. "Are you asleep yet?" Trying to speak the words drowsily: "Just dropping off; good-night," I re- plied, my resolution weakening. The voice: "What 216 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT shall you dream of tonight -- I mean who?" I made the Polite reply. "I am so glad," said the girl, whose simplicity was her strong point, "for I shall dream of you too." Then sleep, but not undisturbed. Into the dream of her that I had promised there came the sound of sobbing. And then I dreamed that the deep and filmy lace curtain on my window -- it must have been that -- blown and twisted by the draft -- the same draft which appeared to have blown open my door -- had become detached from its supporting rod and had fallen upon my neck; and as if rain had accompanied the wind, the warm drops of a summer shower fell also upon one's face. Let the Catholic press shout "Prejudice!" but the fabric was in good time returned unrumpled to its place and the door closed. The cloud was too thick. Dr. Ned Foote had said to me doubtingly, as we sat there inside the Liberal Club door, that he feared Liberalism would not have the hold upon "our girls," meaning Freethinker girls, to confine them, like the influence of the church, to the paths of prudence. "See, for instance," he argued, "how strong the Catholic girls are for being married by a priest." I saw, but what of it? A wedding is a ceremony premeditated and deliberately enacted; and it is not with premeditation or deliberation, but under the strongest of impulses, that the paths of prudence are temporarily abandoned; and there is no reason to believe that prospective marriage by a priest has any more strength, if as much, to over- come that impulse when it arises, than has sound secular common sense, or Rationalism. That which Dr. Ned Foote accepted as the virtues unerringly FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 217 illustrated by girls of the Catholic communion was in fact merely the moral teaching of the Catholic church and the hope, frequently disappointed, of Catholic parents. The church points to its pro- fessionally continent women, the religious sisters, as a triumph of chastity. These women when abroad are too conspicuously clothed to permit of association with males, and their dormitories are "caverns measureless to man." They represent the so-called chastity of the ecclesiastical institution, and of their lay sisters -- to the latter's full content, approval, and resignation. In my association as a workman for a decade with Catholic young men, I could not gather that to them the fact of a girl's be- ing a Catholic rendered her the less liable morally to err. These men also believed in having the mar- riage ceremony celebrated by a priest. Did this prevent their anticipating it? Not observably so. Such is the moral -- that religion holds its votaries to artificial forms, but leaves them on an exact equality with unbelievers, or maybe with less restraint, in the presence of intense emotions. Following Hilda's departure letters came and went between us for more than a year. She would @@@@ 218 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT have me keep up my French lessons, and, to in- sure this, every time she wrote, she gave me para- graphs to do and answer in that language. The sentiments expressed in them came not from her head, blond and wise, and level. Now, I asked myself, why was this? Why this sustained intercourse by mail, in the present case, when in more serious instances there was no epistol- ary correspondence to follow? Some one will have to explain it. Usually when I can't point a moral I am ready to quit; but here there is none. The truth of Swinburne abounds: "Touch hands and part with laughter; touch lips and part with tears." I handed the problem to a man of years and dis- cretion, who reads my story because he happens to be from New England also, and since his young manhood a city resident. He professes to see through it, and so I will quote him: "A man asks questions," he says, "that his own experience would answer if he reposed confidence in it. Maybe fifteen years ago, when my mind hap- pened to wander back to the old home town, I thought of a woman who as a girl wrote me often when I had just gone to the city. She was still un- married, a New England old maid going on sixty years, and while the mood was on I wrote to her. From her answer I could tell that my letter had created quite a tumult in her bosom. She said: 'I suppose you have not thought of me for an age before -- you have had so many friends. But there has been none or few to put you out of my memory, and so there you have remained. Do you remem- ber when you drove a team by our house day after FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 219 day? I saw you every time -- and heard you. You were singing -- what seemed to be your favorite hymn -- 'There is a land of pure delight.' I thought that a land of pure delight would be any land, even our little town, if only those who were loved would understand, and if those who loved each other could live together always. I could write you often, but mustn't; for you live in that land, I hope.' There was nothing between me and that girl but a day's ride together, a hand-clasp at parting, and then the inane boy and girl correspondence by letter for a little while -- no more than that for the material of a lifelong remembrance. "And then there is another, where on her part it is more like 'you have forgotten my kisses and I have forgotten your name.' Says her letter: 'You should understand why I and the others [the catty emphasis is hers and does me great injustice are resigned not to meet you again, or to write. We cannot revive the old thrill, we cannot meet on the old terms, we cannot sing the old song we sang so long ago; and never could after the parting.' So a man need only go back to his nonage to find the an- swer not plain to his matured wisdom. You will find that among the women you left in New Hamp- shire the one who knew you youngest will take the most interest in your story. "'Touch hands and part with laughter; touch lips and part with pain.' That is how it is if you just touch lips. You have told of a young woman in Surry who kissed her lover good-by when he enlisted for the Civil War, and because he didn't come back she went into a decline. There is pain 220 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT anyhow, but it doesn't last so long when the worst that can be has been done. Very few war widows went into a decline." Aversion for the other communion that claimed Hilda's first Sunday morning allegiance was in me a conscience with promptings stronger than those of instinct. "From the heretic girl of my soul should I fly?" asks Moore. Not necessarily, for that is di- fferent. As I have said, I went about among Catho- lic girls. A young fellow who was a foreman, a dues paying member of the typographical union, and carrying a card in the Socialistic Labor party, and besides this a contributor of signed pieces to the labor press, would have no difficulty in meeting them at their entertainments and dances or getting invitations to their homes. Those were days, I guess, when fewer girls than now were looking for a career, and fewer claimed a pay envelope with more money in it than the young men of their class were earning per week. The known fact that I did not "belong" created no religious prejudice against me in the minds of these girls, or at least none was shown in their attitude. Regarding Freethinking girls, Dr. Ned Foote's apprehensions were totally unfounded. When a young man's life is laborious his circle of girl ac- quaintances, such as he will know the lives of for the next generation and after, is small. I can count all of mine on my fingers; but for what it may be worth to morality without religion, and to banish the misgivings of those who hold with Dr. Foote, I will say that I never knew one of them who after- FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 221 wards; was "lost." One and all, "our" girls, my contemporaries, have matured into superior women. Whom did I marry but one of them? But the better morals of Catholics is a myth. If I were not trying to write these memoirs without recourse to slang, I should say it is bunk. Latin countries never made the claim and it has been abandoned in Ireland since statistics superseded Moore's poetry. When Hilda went away I was twenty, going on twenty-one, and was through with women. 2 -- my BROTHER TAKES UP THE PEN E.M Macdonald had in 1877 written articles in reply to the Rev. G.H. Humphrey's slanderous ac- cusations against Infidels, and for his pains had been called by that controvertist a callow stripling who probably knew not the difference between Cal- vinism and Galvanism. In 1878 E.M. began to use his pen quite freely in a discussion of the Labor problem, which he identified with the population question, telling the workingman that his way out was to cease burdening himself with children. He also promulgated the dogma that "the causes of the present state of society are found in Tobacco, Rum, and Religion," he being at the time an abstainer from those vices. While living in Keene, N.H., my brother had acquired the smoking habit and also had experimented with "stone-fences" and other alcoholic mixtures and distillations that were dis- pensed by a local "publican." Now Bennett had 222 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT bribed him to forswear both Tobacco and Rum, and he was hence in a position to give advice. Inci- dentally in his articles he seems either to have rapped or to have ignored the doctrine of certain propagandists called Land Reformers, a small group held together by the teachings of George H. Evans that met occasionally in Henry Beeny's fruit and candy store at Fourth avenue and Twenty-fifth street. Mr. Beeny, William Rowe, and J.K. In- galls therefore labored with him in letters to The Truth Seeker. They had detected a slighting refer- ence to themselves in his words, "while others will gravely assert that only by dividing this earth, in- cluding the sea, into ten-acre cabbage-patches, can man be rendered happy." Doubtless that is a trav- esty of Land Reform, the advocacy of which is now forgotten. E.M. next came forward with "A Plea for the Unborne" an undisguised word for birth control. "Will our workingmen," he demands, "go on raising slaves for the capitalists, criminals for our jails, competitors for the scanty subsistence forced from the grudging earth?" He found cause for commending the efforts of the Oneida Com- munity, where "they allowed no children to be con- ceived till they were prepared to support and edu- cate them." In Putney, Vermont, on my way to New York in the fall of 1875 I was in the neighborhood of the house which the Oneida Community had occupied from 1837 to 1847. I knew of the association only by its name, which indicated a communistic society. But in New York, where some interest in the ex- periment survived, I learned that the community FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 223 had been founded on the Bible and that its members were "Perfectionists," who had achieved "union with God" and were immune to sin. They were taught that the second coming of Christ took place in the year 70. The founder, John Humphries Noyes, may have entertained suspicions that to his followers he bore something like the relation of Christ to the apostles, or to the early church. The social scheme of these Perfectionists was called pantagamy -- pan for all and agamy for marriage. That is, all male and female members were held to be married to each other. The leaders frowned upon that exclusiveness which embraces only one man and one woman. They had at Oneida, N.Y., since 1847, a farm of 650 acres, with 300 members; and in order not to overpopulate the land the men were expected to practice "male continence." And lest the young men and women might be imprudent, the elders of the community attended to the in- struction of the young females, while women be- yond child-bearing age educated the youth of the other sex. Thus was birth regulated, the father and mother acting only with the consent of the community. Dr. Lambert, a member of the Liberal Club, speaking from its platform one evening, ac- cused the leading men of not allowing the women to choose the fathers of their children, and hinted that Noyes, patriarch of the community, was father of a disproportionate number of damsels' firstborn. Dr. Lambert said that if he were a praying man he should pray that every woman in the Oneida com- munity might be "blessed out of it." Could I locate at this moment a report I once 224 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT made of a few minutes' address by the excellent Mrs. Cynthia Leonard at the Liberal Club, I could present a view of these conditions the opposite of commendatory. Mrs, Leonard, then past fifty, in- clined to sex asceticism. She failed to uphold, as I should do, the right of youth to be served by youth, but she denounced in the most scathing man- ner the commandeering of women past the child- bearing age to endow young men with experience. The implication of Mrs. Leonard's remarks that this would be uniformly unpleasant for the mature women, is accepted without comment. As for Noyes, I hardly see what claim he can have for the respect of mankind above that of Purnell, head of the Michigan House of David, except that the Oneida experiment was more of a highbrow affair. The Bible doctrine he prevailed upon his followers to profess had nothing to recommend it above that of Teed and Dowie and Mrs. Eddy and Ben Pur- nell. It would indicate as low a critical faculty in the Perfectionists as in these other groups, only that we may surmise many professed Perfectionism for the sake of the promiscuous Solomonic sexual privileges it conferred. We might expect such a scheme to fail for want of women going into it and from the number of young people going out; as in fact it did in 1881 -- its end being hastened by perse- cution. The Oneida Community still exists, but not as an experiment in Perfectionism, Pantagamy and male continence. The right of birth-control -- or of the same thing under its earlier and less acceptable name, "preven- tion of conception" -- is so rational a proposition FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 225 that its denial generally arises from some ulterior purpose or anterior cause, usually religious. How- ever, if I have ever been found among its advo- cates as a social measure it was incidental to my resentment that legislators of the Comstock caliber should have the prerogative of dictating to the peo- ple at large what they may know. And this in- cludes censorship of books -- dictating what they may learn by reading. My contention has been that knowledge should be free and people left to make what use of it they choose. Birth-control might be taught in public schools and in Sunday schools along with the seventh commandment, and even then there would still be enough of those acci- dents that happen in the best regulated families, added to cases of parentage aforethought, to keep up the population of the country. 3 -- BIRTH CONTROL, COLGATE STYLE. Mr. Samuel Colgate, was president of the Com- stock Society at the time it was conducting prose- cutions of men and women for imparting birth- control information. Colgate & Co., the well-known soap manufacturers, were in 1878 agents for "an article called vaseline," prepared by the Cheese- borough Manufacturing Company, which was ex- tensively advertised in a pamphlet setting forth its merits and uses. A number of persons procured from Colgate & Co. copies of this pamphlet and, fortified therewith, The Truth Seeker quoted from page 7 the words of Henry A. DuBois, M.D., as follows; 226 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT "There is one use for this ointment that I have not fully worked out. Physicians are frequently applied it to pro- duce abortion. Recently on the same day two women came to me; the reason assigned in the one case was that the husband was syphilitic; in the other, that pregnancy brought on violent attacks of spasmodic asthma. Of course I explained that the child had rights as well as the mother, but it was all I could do to prevent one of these cases from going to a professed abortionist. In some cases of this kind prevention is better than cure, and I am inclined to think, from some experiments, that vaseline, charged with four or five grains of [a certain] acid, will destroy," etc. (The circular gave the name of the acid and em- ployed language not adapted to a non-medical pub- lication.) Now, here was the prohibited information, or what appeared to be such, coming right from the head of the society at a moment when the society was prosecuting a case against one F.W. Baxter for communicating similar knowledge to the public. And that is not the worst, for if our pure drugs law had then been in existence Colgate could have been prosecuted for fraud, since the advertisement quoted, written to recommend the vaseline that Mr. Colgate sold, is a fake. Vaseline and the said acid, commingled, have not the virtues ascribed to them by the advertiser of the unguent. This truth, after a lapse of time necessary for the fact to be ascer- tained, was announced one evening at the Liberal Club by E.W. Chamberlain, who warned all and sundry to beware of relying upon the promises for which President Colgate of the Vice Society stood sponsor. That being the case, the publication was innocent, except so far as it was calculated to de- FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 227 ceive. I will add a statement from Dr. Foote's Health Monthly, quoted in The Truth Seeker of June 8, 1878: "It seems that a complaint was made against Mr. Sam- uel Colgate, president of the Society for the Suppression of Vice, for sending through the U.S, mails a pamphlet in regard to vaseline wherein it was spoken of favorably as a preventive when combined with a certain other drug. It is stated, however, that Mr. Colgate pleaded ignorance of the contents of the pamphlet, and the complaint was dismissed." While D.M. Bennett, arrested by Comstock for selling his Open Letter and the Marsupial tract, awaited trial, he opened subscriptions for a defense fund and circulated a petition for the repeal of the federal law under which the Roundsman of the Lord operated. The petitions came back to the office with 50,000 signatures attached. All hands on The Truth Seeker worked at pasting them to- gether, and they were wound about a reel con- structed for that purpose. The length of the peti- tions thus made into one was estimated at "one thousand yards." Meanwhile petitions were sent direct to congressmen with twenty thousand addi- tional signatures. 4 -- ONE CASE DISMISSED, ANOTHER STARTED Bennett had hoped that Ingersoll would appear for his defense, when the case came up, but tradi- tion has it that Ingersoll did even better -- that he went to Washington and influenced the authorities to have the case dismissed, January 5, 1878, by U.S. Commissioner John A. Shields. The peti- 228 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT tion came before the House Committee on the Re- vision of the Laws in May, and on June 1 The Tribune and other newspapers announced that the committee had reported favorably a bill to repeal Mr. Comstock's law on the ground that it was un- constitutional and that "in many instances it has been executed in a tyrannical and unjust manner." Unfortunately, the announcement proved to be un- true, or the committee reversed its action, for the law was allowed to stand unrepealed and unmodi- fied. So the agitation went on, T.B. Wakeman preparing voluminous briefs to show that the post- office had no such power as that which it conferred upon Comstock. In August Bennett was again arrested, this time for handling a pamphlet called "Cupid's Yokes: or The Binding Forces of Conjugal Life," by E.H. Heywood. Miss Josephine Tilton, sister-in-law of Heywood, and W.S. Bell, lecturer, were taken at the same time. These arrests took place while Ben- nett and Bell and Miss Tilton were attending a Freethought convention at Watkins, N.Y. Says Bennett in The Truth Seeker of August 31: "Miss Tilton had some of the books on the ground for sale, but no other person had any. We have a variety of the books of our publication for sale, but not a copy of 'Cupid's Yokes' was upon our table. Miss Tilton had a contiguous table, upon which she offered for sale several of Mr. Heywood's pamphlets, photographs, etc. Among the pamphlets was the tabooed 'Cupid's Yokes.' We are not sure that we sold a copy of it, but if we did it was to aid Miss Tilton when away or unable to attend to her customers. We put not a cent of the money for 'Cupid's Yokes' in our pocket, nor did we have a cent profit from the sale of them." FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 229 The prisoners were admitted to bail. They were all bailed by women; Bennett and Bell by Mrs. J. K., Ingalls, wife of the author of "Social Wealth," and Miss Tilton by Lucy Colman, the veteran aboli- tionist. At their arraignment, someone said the arrested trio looked like the Father, Son, and Holy @@@@ "THE TRINITY." Left to right: D.M. Bennett, Josephine Tilton, W.S. Ball. Ghost, and they were posed for photographs as "the Trinity." The war against Comstock, which had not failed for a moment, "now trebly thundering swelled the gale." Bennett brought a libel suit upon himself by attacking a man named Chapman, who had re- 230 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT sorted to a house kept by a Madam DeForrest and made arrangements for Comstock to hire three girls for $14.50 to parade naked before him so that he might arrest them for indecent exposure. Chap- man gained the confidence of the "madam" by re- tiring with one of her girls -- an act the morality of which Bennett severely condemned. This suit did not come to trial so far as I can discover. When the Watkins case came up in December the three defendants appeared before the court of Oyer and Terminer at that place, Judge Martin of Elmira presiding. Says Bennett of these proceed- ings: "It seems Judge Martin did not think our indictments belonged to be tried in his court, and they ought to go back to the Court of Sessions, which is to sit in February next." One George Mosher, who had thought to turn an honest penny by selling "Cupid's Yokes," was arraigned with the others. All were required to furnish new bail. A worthy man of 83 years, Samuel G. Crawford by name, a resident of the town of Havana, offered himself, and being an honored and respected citi- zen, was accepted. I find no record of the case coming to trial. 5 -- BENNETT'S THIRD ARREST. Meanwhile Bennett had defied the forces of Com- stockery, and had been arrested again. "Just as this paper is going to press, Tuesday, 4 P.M., December 10, 1878, the editor has been arrested on a bench warrant from the U.S. Circuit Court at the instance of Anthony Comstock, on the charge of sending a copy of 'Cupid's Yokes' through the mails. Bail was demanded in FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 231 $2,000. E.B. Foote, Sr., M.D., was accepted. 'The case may come to trial in one or two months. There may be more of these prosecutions than will prove interesting." Bennett saw that this one was made interesting for Anthony Comstock. The year closed, so far as Comstock cases were concerned, with the pardon of Ezra H. Heywood of Massachusetts, who had been sentenced to a two years' stretch for selling "Cupid's Yokes" and Trall's "Sexual Physiology." The year 1878 had been signalized by the most animated sort of discussion over the Comstock pos- tal laws, with The Truth Seeker and its constituents battling for the repeal of the laws, and Francis Ellingwood Abbot, president of the National Lib- eral League and editor of the Boston Index, oppos- ing the making of any fight. The ground which the conservative Mr. Abbot had taken for the Nine Demands and for separation of church and state was his limit. The state might be separated from the church but not from Comstockery. He was against God in the Constitution, but, as Leland said, "for the devil in the post-office." The 70,000 who had signed the petition for repeal were to him misguided persons, the victims of deception, or they were Freelovers and obscenists. There was really no occasion for Abbot to get into the fight, for no organized attempt had been made to involve the National Liberal League until he began the form- ing of auxiliary Leagues with a view to reelecting himself as president and casting out the anti-Com- stock faction. Had he kept to the business of the League and allowed liberty of thought and action among members as regards the postal laws, he might 232 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT have remained at its head. But his course so an- gered the anti-Comstock members, who happened to be in the majority, that at the Annual Congress in Wieting's Opera House, Syracuse, N.Y., Octo- ber 26, the delegates, of whom there were 127 vot- ing, elected in his place the Hon. Elizur Wright of Boston by a vote of 76 to 51. And then, instead of accepting the result and changing his tactics, Mr. Abbot took his minority with him to the Syracuse House across the street and organized a New Na- tional Liberal League. This he announced as a "victory" and asked the auxiliary Leagues to re- joice with him. Nearly all of the auxiliaries, how- ever, remained with the Old National League. Mr. Abbot's "strategy" defeated its author and split the League. In The Truth Seeker of December 9, 1878, The- ron C. Leland said: "Never was a defeat so clearly due to the defeated hero himself," and these words were followed by the statement: "Had Mr. Abbot issued a straightforward Call, as he did last year, with no exhibition of nervousness about delegates, let the local Leagues represent themselves as they found it most convenient, let their delegates present themselves with the usual credentials at the Con- vention as they did last year at Rochester, and had hurled no flings at anybody, there would have been no special effort made by the repeal party to secure a majority of the delegates. The delegates would have met under no special urgency, no hot blood would have been coursing through their veins, not nearly so many delegates would have assembled, and FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 233 Mr. Abbot would have had an easy and a real in- stead of a fictitious 'victory'." Mr. Abbot did not destroy the League he had done so much to create, but he materially weakened it by withdrawing from it himself and the able men who went out with him. As a consequence of alien- ating the majority of the members, his paper, The Index, declined toward suspension and of his New National Liberal League there are no reported con- ferences. I was a delegate to the Syracuse Con- gress; and while admiring Mr. Abbot for his ability was obliged to vote with the 76 because they were The Truth Seeker people. 6 -- MORE HISTORY OF 1878. Ingersoll drew vast audiences in New York in 1878. The meetings he addressed at Chickering Hall were crowded. One of his lectures which I attended was on Thomas Paine. That was not long after his controversy with The New York Observer. Everybody was keen to hear what he would have to say about Paine's detractors, so that when he de- clared: "I am going to bring these malingers of the dead to the bar of public conscience and prove them to be common liars," there ensued the best demonstration I ever saw at a public meeting. The audience did not seem to be angry; it was delighted. The listeners did not hiss the men who had libeled Paine; they cheered his vindicator. They all wanted Ingersoll to see them and know they were there and that they approved his sentiments; so they got upon their feet; they stood in the seats to 234 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT get more altitude, and then swung their hats or ele- vated them on canes or umbrellas. The name of Samuel P. Putnam, who was after- ward to become such a force in Liberal work, was seen in The Truth Seeker of April 20, for the first time, attached to a piece of free religious poetry quoted from the Boston Index. The news came early in the year that since the will of Stephen Girard excluded ministers of the gospel from the college he founded, the trustees would build a chapel on the grounds. The publication of Ella E. Gibson's "Godly Wo- men of the Bible" began August 1878, producing a book that has been kept in print ever since. John Peck started his forty years as a contributor. An almost if not quite unknown, or at least forgotten, Freethought writer had a desk in the office -- Thomas Cairn Edwards of Vineland, N.J. -- a finished scholar (Edinburgh) who collaborated with Ben- nett in the production of his books. My own name as a recruit was first printed in a notice of the or- ganization of the Fourth New York Liberal League, Daniel Edward Ryan president, that elected me treasurer. Thomas Edison was then unknown as a heretic, yet a paragraph in The Truth Seeker con- tained this intimation: "If Thomas A. Edison is not deceiving himself, we are on the eve of surpris- ing experiences" -- nothing less than having lights brought into our houses by means of a wire! Power, too, enough to run a sewing-machine! It has since transpired that Mr. Edison was not a victim of self- delusion. FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 235 NOTE. -- "Your story this week is dull," writes a corre- spondent, referring to June 16. He wants more stories like the one of June 9. In that respect he differs from all other correspondents, for, besides his, my little venture in social pioneering hasn't got a hand since it was printed. In manuscript I showed it to a literary young woman, who pronounced it "an idol." I have learned to go behind girls spelling, and I know she meant an idyl. A similar romance, submitted to a maturer woman, mother of a family of girls, was read with feeling and ordered to be printed on pain of losing a lifetime subscriber. On the third one I sought a professional opinion, and the verdict was "artistry." Now, to everything else I have written there has been response. Even my mention of an adventure with an up-and-down saw has brought two letters from Brother A.L. Bean of Maine, who knows sawmills from rag- wheel to cupola. If anyone missed my girl stories from The Truth Seeker, he has now read them all in the fore- going pages. In the last or near last story of Surry, N.H., a picture was introduced: a grave and a weeping willow, and a boy. It hung in the room where I slept, and I remarked that "I hated that damned boy heartily." When I went to school in Surry one of the scholars was a mite of a girl who would have been described in the language of the day, which favored regular verbs, as "about as big as a pint of cider half drinked up." Having survived the sixty years that have since passed, the girl is now a woman; she writes me that she lives in that house where I was home- sick; has found the picture (for there couldn't be two such things in the world), and that while the tombstone and the weeping willow remain, there is not a damned boy in sight. Therefore I either got this picture mixed with another, or else I killed the boy and put him under the stone. 'Or my mind may have projected "Rollo" into the scene. My description fits Rollo, if anybody remembers him. -- The Truth Seeker, June 30, 1928. 236 FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT WHO WAS WHO IN 1878. A list of speakers and attendants, actual and an- nounced, at the Watkins, N.Y., Freethinkers' convention held in August, 1878, shows Who was Who in the Liberal ranks fifty years ago: Hon. Geo. W. Julian, Indiana. James Parton, Massachusetts. Hon. Frederick Douglas, Washington, D.C. Dr. J.M. Peebles, New Jersey. Elder F.W. Evans, Mt. Lebanon, N.Y. Parker Pillsbury, Concord, N.H. Hon. Elizur Wright, Boston. Prof. J.E. Oliver, Ithaca, N.Y. Hon. judge E.P. Hurlbut, Albany, N.Y. Horace Seaver, editor of The Investigator. J.P. Mendum, publisher of The Investigator. D.M. Bennett, editor of The Truth Seeker. Col. John C. Bundy, editor of The Religio-Philosophical Journal. G.L. Henderson, editor of The Positive Thinker. Asa K. Butts, editor Evolution. M.J.R. Hargrave, editor of The Freethought Journal. G.A. Loomis, editor of The Shaker. Benj R. Tucker, editor of The Word. Dr. J.R. Monroe, editor of The Seymour Times. C.D.B. Mills, Syracuse. Mrs. Matilda Joselyn Gage, corresponding secretary of the National Woman Suffrage Association. Mrs. Clara Neyman, New York City. Giles B. Stebbins , Detroit, Mich. Charles Ellis, Boston. William S. Bell, New Bedford, Mass. Rev. A.B. Bradford, Pennsylvania. Thaddeus B. Wakeman, New York City. Dr, T.L. Brown, Binghatuton, N.Y. FIFTY YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT 237 Rev. J.H. Horton, Auburn, N.Y. Prof. J.H.W. Toohey, Chelsea, Mass. Prof. A.L. Rawson, New York City. Rev. William Ellery, Copeland, Neb. T.C. Leland, New York City. Ella E. Gibson, Barre, Mass. Dr. J.L. York, California. Mrs. Lucy A. Colman, Syracuse. Mrs. P.R. Lawrence, Quincy, Mass. Mrs. Grace L. Parkhurst, Elkland, Pa. Hudson Tuttle, Berlin Heights, Ohio. Rev. O.B. Frothingham, New York. Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, New Jersey. The Hutchinson Family, singers. And the names of Liberal lecturers not included in the list were: Charles Orchardson, New. York. Ingersoll Lockwood, New York. B.F. Underwood, Thorndike, Mass. Prof. William Denton, Wellesley, Mass. W.F. Jamieson, Albion, Mich. E.C. Walker, Florence, Iowa. C. Fannie Allyn, Stoneham, Mass. Moses Hull, Boston. Laura Kendrick, Boston. Mrs. Augusta Cooper Bristol, Vineland, N.J. J.W. Stillman, New York. Dr. A.J. Clark, Indianapolis. D.W. Hull, Michigan. C.L. James, Wisconsin.


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