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15 page printout Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship. Contents of this file page ADDRESS TO THE ACTORS' FUND OF AMERICA. 1 ART AND MORALITY. 5 "THE BRAIN AND THE BIBLE." 11 **** **** This file, its printout, or copies of either are to be copied and given away, but NOT sold. Bank of Wisdom, Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 The Works of ROBERT G. INGERSOLL **** **** ADDRESS TO THE ACTORS' FUND OF AMERICA. New York, June 5, 1888. MR. PRESIDENT, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: I have addressed, or annoyed, a great many audiences in my life and I have not the slightest doubt that I stand now before more ability, a greater variety of talent, and more real genius than I ever addressed in my life. I know all about respectable stupidity, and I am perfectly acquainted with the brainless wealth and success of this life, and I know, after all, how poor the world would be without that divine thing that we call genius -- what a worthless habitation, if you take from it all that genius has given. I know also that all joy springs from a love of nature. I know that all joy is what I call Pagan. The natural man takes delight in everything that grows, in everything that shines, in everything that enjoys -- he has an immense sympathy with the whole human race. Of that feeling, of that spirit, the drama is born. People must first be in love with life before they can think it worth representing. They must have sympathy with their fellows before they can enter into their feelings and know what their heart throbs about. So, I say, back of the drama is this love of life, this love of nature. And whenever a country becomes prosperous -- and this has been pointed out many times -- when a wave of wealth runs over a land, -- behind it you will see all the sons and daughters of genius. When a man becomes of some account he is worth painting. When by success and prosperity he gets the pose of a victor, the sculptor is inspired; and when love is really in his heart, words burst into blossom and the poet is born. When great virtues appear, when magnificent things are done by heroines and heroes, then the stage is built, and the life of a nation is compressed into a few hours, or -- to use the language of the greatest -- "turning the accomplishment of many years into an hour-glass"; the stage is born, and we love it because we love life -- and he who loves the stage has a kind of double life. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 1 ADDRESS TO THE ACTORS' FUND OF AMERICA. The drama is a crystallization of history, an epitome of the human heart. The past is lived again and again, and we see upon the stage, love, sacrifice, fidelity, courage -- all the virtues mingled with all the follies. And what is the great thing that the stage does? It cultivates the imagination. And let me say now, that the imagination constitutes the great difference between human beings. The imagination is the mother of pity, the mother of generosity, the mother of every possible virtue. It is by the imagination that you are enabled to put yourself in the place of another. Every dollar that has been paid into your treasury came from an imagination vivid enough to imagine himself or herself lying upon the lonely bed of pain, or as having fallen by the wayside of life, dying alone. It is this imagination that makes the difference in men. Do you believe that a man would plunge the dagger into the heart of another if he had imagination enough to see him dead -- imagination enough to see his widow throw her arms about the corpse and cover his face with sacred tears -- imagination enough to see them digging his grave, and to see the funeral and to hear the clods fall upon the coffin and the sobs of those who stood about -- do you believe he would commit the crime? Would any man be false who had imagination enough to see the woman that he once loved, in the darkness of night, when the black clouds were floating through the sky hurried by the blast as thoughts and memories were hurrying through her poor brain -- if he could see the white flutter of her garment as she leaped to the eternal, blessed sleep of death -- do you believe that he would be false to her? I tell you that he would be true. So that, in my judgment, the great mission of the stage is to cultivate the human imagination. That is the reason fiction has done so much good. Compared with the stupid lies called history, how beautiful are the imagined things with painted wings. Everybody detests a thing that pretends to be true and is not; but when it says, "I am about to create," then it is beautiful in the proportion that it is artistic, in the proportion that it is a success. Imagination is the mother of enthusiasm. Imagination fans the little spark into a flame great enough to warm the human race; and enthusiasm is to the mind what spring is to the world. Now I am going to say a few words because I want to, and because I have the chance. What is known as "orthodox religion" has always been the enemy of the theater. It has been the enemy of every possible comfort, of every rational joy -- that is to say, of amusement. And there is a reason for this. Because, if that religion be true, there should be no amusement. If you believe that in every moment is the peril of eternal pain -- do not amuse yourself. Stop the orchestra, ring down the curtain, and be as miserable as you can. That idea puts an infinite responsibility upon the soul -- an infinite responsibility Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 2 ADDRESS TO THE ACTORS' FUND OF AMERICA. -- and how can there be any art, how can there be any joy, after that? You might as well pile all the Alps on one unfortunate ant, and then say, "Why don't you play? Enjoy yourself." If that doctrine be true, every one should regard time as a kind of dock, a pier running out into the ocean of eternity, on which you sit on your trunk and wait for the ship of death -- solemn, lugubrious, melancholy to the last degree. And that is why I have said joy is Pagan. It comes from a love of nature, from a love of this world, from a love of this life. According to the idea of some good people, life is a kind of green- room, where you are getting ready for a "play" in some other country. You all remember the story of "Great Expectations," and I presume you have all had them. That is another thing about this profession of acting that I like -- you do not know how it is coming out -- and there is this delightful uncertainty. You have all read the book called "Great Expectations," written, in my judgment, by the greatest novelist that ever wrote the English language -- the man who created a vast realm of joy. I love the joy-makers -- not the solemn, mournful wretches. And when I think of the church asking something of the theater, I remember that story of "Great Expectations." You remember Miss Haversham -- she was to have been married some fifty or sixty years before that time -- sitting there in the dankness, in all of her wedding finery, the laces having turned yellow by time, the old wedding cake crumbled, various insects having made it their palatial residence -- you remember that she sent for that poor little boy Pip, and when he got there in the midst of all these horrors, she looked at him and said, "Pip, play! And if their doctrine be true, every actor is in that situation. I have always loved the theater -- loved the stage, simply because it has added to the happiness of this life. "Oh but," they say, "is it moral?" A superstitious man suspects everything that is pleasant. It seems inbred in his nature, and in the nature of most people. You let such a man pull up a little weed and taste it, and if it is sweet and good, he says, "I'll bet it is poison." But if it tastes awful, so that his face becomes a mask of disgust, he says, "I'll bet you that it is good medicine." Now, I believe that everything in the world that tends to make man happy, is moral. That is my definition of morality. Anything that bursts into bud and blossom, and bears the fruit of joy, is moral. Some people expect to make the world good by destroying desire -- by a kind of pious petrifaction, feeling that if you do not want anything, you will not want anything bad. In other words, you will be good and moral if you will only stop growing, stop wishing, turn all your energies in the direction of repression, and if from the tree of life you pull every leaf, and then every bud -- and if an apple happens to get ripe in spite of you, don't touch it -- snakes! Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 3 ADDRESS TO THE ACTORS' FUND OF AMERICA. I insist that happiness is the end -- virtue the means -- and anything that wipes a tear from the face of man is good. Everything that gives laughter to the world -- laughter springing from good nature, that is the most wonderful music that has ever enriched the ears of man. And let me say that nothing can be more immoral than to waste your own life, and sour that of others. Is the theater moral? I suppose you have had an election to-day. They had an election at the Metropolitan Opera House for bishops, and they voted forged tickets; and after the election was over, I suppose they asked the old question in the same solemn tone: "Is the theater moral?" At last, all the intelligence of the world admits that the theater is a great, a splendid instrumentality for increasing the well-being of man. But only a few years ago our fathers were poor barbarians. They only wanted the essentials of life, and through nearly all the centuries Genius was a vagabond -- Art was a servant. He was the companion of the clown. Writers, poets, actors, either sat "below the salt" or devoured the "remainder biscuit," and drank what drunkenness happened to leave, or lived on crumbs, and they had less than the crumbs of respect. The painter had to have a patron, and then in order to pay the patron, he took the patron's wife for Venus -- and the man, he was the Apollo! So the writer had to have a patron, and he endeavored to immortalize him in a preface of obsequious lies. The writer had no courage. The painter, the sculptor -- poor wretches -- had "patrons." Some of the greatest of the world were treated as servants, and yet they were the real kings of the human race. Now the public is the patron, The public has the intelligence to see what it wants. The stage does not have to flatter any man. The actor now does not enroll himself as the servant of duke or lord. He has the great public, and if he is a great actor, he stands as high in the public estimation as any other man in any other walk of life. And these men of genius, these "vagabonds," these "sturdy vagrants" of the old law -- and let me say one thing right here: I do not believe that there ever was a man of genius that had not a little touch of the vagabond in him somewhere -- just a little touch of chaos -- that is to say, he must have generosity enough now and then absolutely to forget himself -- he must be generous to that degree that he starts out without thinking of the shore and without caring for the sea -- and that is that touch of chaos. And yet, through all those years the poets and the actors lacked bread. Imagine the number of respectable dolts who felt above them. The men of genius lived on the bounty of the few, grudgingly given. Now, just think what would happen, what we would be, if you could blot from this world what these men have done. If you could take from the walls the pictures; from the niches the statues; from the memory of man the songs that have been sung by "The Plowman" -- take from the memory of the world what has been done by the actors and play-writers, and this great globe would be like a vast skull emptied of all thought. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 4 ADDRESS TO THE ACTORS' FUND OF AMERICA. And let me say one word more, and that is as to the dignity of your profession. The greatest genius of this world has produced your literature. I am not now alluding simply to one -- but there has been more genius lavished upon the stage -- more real genius, more creative talent, than upon any other department of human effort. And when men and women belong to a profession that can count Shakespeare in its number, they should feel nothing but pride. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to speak of Shakespeare -- Shakespeare, in whose brain were the fruits of all thoughts past, the seeds of all to be -- Shakespeare, an intellectual ocean toward which all rivers ran, and from which now the isles and continents of thought receive their dew and rain. A profession that can boast that Shakespeare was one of its members, and that from his brain poured out that mighty intellectual cataract -- that Mississippi that will enrich all coming generations -- the man that belongs to that profession -- should feel that no other man by reason of belonging to some other, can be his superior. And such a man, when he dies -- or the friend of such a man, when that man dies -- should not imagine that it is a very generous and liberal thing for some minister to say a few words above the corpse -- and I do not want to see this profession cringe before any other. One word more. I hope that you will sustain this splendid charity. I do not believe that more generous people exist than actors. I hope you will sustain this charity, And yet, there was one little thing I saw in your report of last year, that I want to call attention to. You had "benefits" all over this country, and of the amount raised, one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars were given to religious societies and twelve thousand dollars to the Actors' Fund -- and yet they say actors are not Christians! Do you not love your enemies? After this, I hope that you will also love your friends. END **** **** ART AND MORALITY. 1888 Art is the highest form of expression, and exists for the sake of expression. Through art thoughts become visible. Back of forms are the desire, the longing, the brooding creative instinct, the maternity of mind and the passion that give pose and swell, outline and color. Of course there is no such thing as absolute beauty or absolute morality. We now clearly perceive that beauty and conduct are relative. We have outgrown the provincialism that thought is Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 5 ART AND MORALITY. back of substance, as well as the old Platonic absurdity, that ideas existed before the subjects of thought. So far, at least, as man is concerned, his thoughts have been produced by his surroundings, by the action and interaction of things upon his mind; and so far as man is concerned, things have preceded thoughts. The impressions that these things make upon us are what we know of them. The absolute is beyond the human mind. Our knowledge is confined to the relations that exist between the totality of things that we call the universe, and the effect upon ourselves. Actions are deemed right or wrong, according to experience and the conclusions of reason. Things are beautiful by the relation that certain forms, colors, and modes of expression bear to us. At the foundation of the beautiful will be found the fact of happiness, the gratification of the senses, the delight of intellectual discovery and the surprise and thrill of appreciation. That which we call the beautiful, wakens into life through the association of ideas, of memories, of experiences, of suggestions of pleasure past and the perception that the prophecies of the ideal have been and will be fulfilled. (203) Art cultivates and kindles the imagination, and quickens the conscience. It is by imagination that we put ourselves in the place of another. When the whigs of that faculty are folded, the master does not put himself in the place of the slave; the tyrant is not locked in the dungeon, chained with his victim. The inquisitor did not feel the flames that devoured the martyr. The imaginative man, giving to the beggar, gives to himself. Those who feel indignant at the perpetration of wrong, feel for the instant that they are the victims; and when they attack the aggressor they feel that they are defending themselves. Love and pity are the children of the imagination. Our fathers read with great approbation the mechanical sermons in rhyme written by Milton, Young and Pollok. Those theological poets wrote for the purpose of convincing their readers that the mind of man is diseased, filled with infirmities, and that poetic poultices and plasters tend to purify and strengthen the moral nature of the human race. Nothing to the true artist, to the real genius, is so contemptible as the "medicinal view." Poems were, written to prove that the practice of virtue was an investment for another world, and that whoever followed the advice found in those solemn, insincere and lugubrious rhymes, although he might be exceedingly unhappy in this world, would with great certainty be rewarded in the next. These writers assumed that there was a kind of relation between rhyme and religion, between verse and virtue; and that it was their duty to call the attention of the world to all the snares and pitfalls of pleasure. They wrote with a purpose. They had a distinct moral end in view. They had a plan. They were missionaries, and their object was to show the world how wicked it was and how good they, the writers, were. They could not conceive of a man being so happy that everything in nature partook of his feeling; that all the birds were singing for him, and singing by reason of his joy; that everything sparkled and shone and moved in the glad rhythm of his heart. They could not appreciate this feeling. They could not think of this joy guiding Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 6 ART AND MORALITY. the artist's hand, seeking expression in form and color. They did not look upon poems, pictures and statues as results, as children of the brain fathered by sea and sky, by flower and star, by love and light. They were not moved by gladness. They felt the responsibility of perpetual duty. They had a desire to teach, to sermonize, to point out and exaggerate the faults of others and to describe the virtues practiced by themselves. Art became a colporteur, a distributer of tracts, a mendicant missionary whose highest ambition was to suppress all heathen joy. Happy people were supposed to have forgotten, in a reckless moment, duty and responsibility. True poetry would call them back to a realization of their meanness and their misery. It was the skeleton at the feast, the rattle of whose bones had a rhythmic sound. That was the forefinger of warning and doom held up in the presence of a smile. These moral poets taught the "unwelcome truths," and by the paths of life put posts on which they painted hands pointing at graves. They loved to see the pallor on the cheek of youth, while they talked, in solemn tones, of age, decrepitude and lifeless clay. Before the eyes of love they thrust, with eager hands, the skull of death. They crushed the flowers beneath their feet and plaited crowns of thorns for every brow. According to these poets, happiness was inconsistent with virtue. The sense of infinite obligation should be perpetually present. They assumed an attitude of superiority. They denounced and calumniated the reader. They enjoyed his confusion when charged with total depravity. They loved to paint the sufferings of the lost, the worthlessness of human life, the littleness of mankind, and the beauties of an unknown world. They knew but little of the heart. They did not know that without passion there is no virtue, and that the really passionate are the virtuous. Art has nothing to do directly with morality or immorality. It is its own excuse for being; it exists for itself. The artist who endeavors to enforce a lesson, becomes a preacher; and the artist who tries by hint and suggestion to enforce the immoral, becomes a pander. There is an infinite difference between the nude and the naked, between the natural and the undressed. In the presence of the pure, unconscious nude, nothing can be more contemptible than those forms in which are the hints and suggestions of drapery, the pretence of exposure, and the failure to conceal. The undressed is vulgar -- the nude is pure. The old Greek statues, frankly, proudly nude, whose free and perfect limbs have never known the sacrilege of clothes, were and are as free from taint, as pure, as stainless, as the image of the morning star trembling in a drop of perfumed dew. Morality is the harmony between act and circumstance. It is the melody of conduct. A wonderful statue is the melody of Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 7 ART AND MORALITY. proportion. A great picture is the melody of form and color. A great statue does not suggest labor; it seems to have been created as a joy. A great painting suggests no weariness and no effort; the greater, the easier it seems. So a great and splendid life seems to have been without effort. There is in it no idea of obligation, no idea of responsibility or of duty. The idea of duty changes to a kind of drudgery that which should be, in the perfect man, a perfect pleasure. The artist, working simply for the sake of enforcing a moral, becomes a laborer. The freedom of genius is lost, and the artist is absorbed in the citizen. The soul of the real artist should be moved by this melody of proportion as the body is unconsciously swayed by the rhythm of a symphony. No one can imagine that the great men who chiseled the statues of antiquity intended to teach the youth of Greece to be obedient to their parents. We cannot believe that Michael Angelo painted his grotesque and somewhat vulgar "Day of judgment" for the purpose of reforming Italian thieves. The subject was in all probability selected by his employer, and the treatment was a question of art, without the slightest reference to the moral effect, even upon priests. We are perfectly certain that Corot painted those infinitely poetic landscapes, those cottages, those sad poplars, those leafless vines on weather-tinted walls, those quiet pools, those contented cattle, those fields flecked with light, over which bend the skies, tender as the breast of a mother, without once thinking of the ten commandments. There is the same difference between moral art and the product of true genius, that there is between prudery and virtue. The novelists who endeavor to enforce what they are pleased to call "moral truths," cease to be artists. They create two kinds of characters -- types and caricatures. The first never has lived, and the second never will. The real artist produces neither. In his pages you will find individuals, natural people, who have the contradictions and inconsistencies inseparable from humanity. The great artists "hold the mirror up to nature," and this mirror reflects with absolute accuracy. The moral and the immoral writers -- that is to say, those who have some object besides that of art -- use convex or concave mirrors, or those with uneven surfaces, and the result is that the images are monstrous and deformed. The little novelist and the little artist deal either in the impossible or the exceptional, The men of genius touch the universal. Their words and works throb in unison with the great ebb and flow of things. They write and work for all races and for all time. It has been the object of thousands of reformers to destroy the passions, to do away with desires; and could this object be accomplished, life would become a burden, with but one desire -- that is to say, the desire for extinction. Art in its highest forms increases passion, gives tone and color and zest to life. But while it increases passion, it refines. It extends the horizon. The bare necessities of life constitute a prison, a dungeon. Under the influence of art the walls expand, the roof rises, and it becomes a temple. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 8 ART AND MORALITY. Art is not a sermon, and the artist is not a preacher. Art accomplishes by indirection. The beautiful refines. The perfect in art suggests the perfect in conduct. The harmony in music teaches, without intention, the lesson of proportion in life. The bird in his song has no moral purpose, and yet the influence is humanizing. The beautiful in nature acts through appreciation and sympathy. It does not browbeat, neither does it humiliate. It is beautiful without regard to you. Roses would be unbearable if in their red and perfumed hearts were mottoes to the effect that bears eat bad boys and that honesty is the best policy. Art creates an atmosphere in which the proprieties, the amenities, and the virtues unconsciously grow. The rain does not lecture the seed. The light does not make rules for the vine and flower. The heart is softened by the pathos of the perfect. The world is a dictionary of the mind, and in this dictionary of things genius discovers analogies, resemblances, and parallels amid opposites, likeness in difference, and corroboration in contradiction. Language is but a multitude of pictures. Nearly every word is a work of art, a picture represented by a sound, and this sound represented by a mark, and this mark gives not only the sound, but the picture of something in the outward world and the picture of something within the mind, and with these words which were once pictures, other pictures are made. The greatest pictures and the greatest statues, the most wonderful and marvelous groups, have been painted and chiseled with words. They are as fresh to-day as when they fell from human lips. Penelope still ravels, weaves, and waits; Ulysses' bow is bent, and through the level rings the eager arrow flies. Cordelia's tears are falling now. The greatest gallery of the world is found in Shakespeare's book. The pictures and the marbles of the Vatican and Louvre are faded, crumbling things, compared with his, in which perfect color gives to perfect form the glow and movement of passion's highest life. Everything except the truth wears, and needs to wear, a mask. Little souls are ashamed of nature. Prudery pretends to have only those passions that it cannot feel. Moral poetry is like a respectable canal that never overflows its banks. It has weirs through which slowly and without damage any excess of feeling is allowed to flow, It makes excuses for nature, and regards love as an interesting convict. Moral art paints or chisels feet, faces, and rags. It regards the body as obscene. It hides with drapery that which it has not the genuine purely to portray. Mediocrity becomes moral from a necessity which it has the impudence to call virtue. It pretends to regard ignorance as the foundation of purity and insists that virtue seeks the companionship of the blind. Art creates, combines, and reveals. It is the highest manifestation of thought, of passion, of love, of intuition. It is the highest form of expression, of history and prophecy. It allows us to look at an unmasked soul, to fathom the abysses of passion, to understand the heights and depths of love. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 9 ART AND MORALITY. Compared with what is in the mind of man, the outward world almost ceases to excite our wonder. The impression produced by mountains, seas, and stars is not so great, so thrilling, as the music of Wagner'. The constellations themselves grow small when we read "Troilus and Cressida," "Hamlet," or "Lear." What are seas and stars in the presence of a heroism that holds pain and death as naught? What are seas and stars compared with human hearts? What is the quarry compared with the statue? Art civilizes because it enlightens, develops, strengthens, ennobles. It deals with the beautiful, with the passionate, with the ideal. It is the child of the heart. To be great, it must deal with the human. It must be in accordance with the experience, with the hopes, with the fears, and with the possibilities of man. No one cares to paint a palace, because there is nothing in such a picture to touch the heart. It tells of responsibility, of the prison, of the conventional. It suggests a load -- it tells of apprehension, of weariness and ennui. The picture of a cottage, over which runs a vine, a little home thatched with content, with its simple life, its natural sunshine and shadow, its trees bending with fruit, its hollyhocks and pinks, its happy children, its hum of bees, is a poem -- a smile in the desert of this world. The great lady, in velvet and jewels, makes but a poor picture. There is not freedom enough in her life. She is constrained. She is too far away from the simplicity of happiness. In her thought there is too much of the mathematical. In all art you will find a touch of chaos, of liberty; and there is in all artists a little of the vagabond -- that is to say, genius. The nude in art has rendered holy the beauty of woman. Every Greek statue pleads for mothers and sisters. From these marbles come strains of music. They have filled the heart of man with tenderness and worship. They have kindled reverence, admiration and love. The Venus de Milo, that even mutilation cannot mar, tends only to the elevation of our race. It is a miracle of majesty and beauty, the supreme idea of the supreme woman. It is a melody in marble. All the lines meet in a kind of voluptuous and glad content. The pose is rest itself. The eyes are filled with thoughts of love. The breast seems dreaming of a child. The prudent is not the poetic; it is the mathematical. Genius is the spirit of abandon; it is joyous, irresponsible. It moves in the swell and curve of billows; it is careless of conduct and consequence. For a moment, the chain of cause and effect seems broken; the soul is free. It gives an account not even to itself. Limitations are forgotten; nature seems obedient to the will; the ideal alone exists; the universe is a symphony. Every brain is a gallery of art, and every soul is, to a greater or less degree, an artist. The pictures and statues that now enrich and adorn the walls and niches of the world, as well as those that illuminate the pages of its literature, were taken originally from the private galleries of the brain. The soul -- that is to say the artist -- compares the pictures in its own brain with the pictures that have been taken from the Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 10 ART AND MORALITY. galleries of others and made visible. This soul, this artist, selects that which is nearest perfection in each, takes such parts as it deems perfect, puts them together, forms new pictures, new statues, and in this way creates the ideal. To express desires, longings, ecstasies, prophecies and passions in form and color; to put love, hope, heroism and triumph in marble; to paint dreams and memories with words; to portray the purity of dawn, the intensity and glory of noon, the tenderness of twilight, the splendor and mystery of night, with sounds; to give the invisible to sight and touch, and to enrich the common things of earth with gems and jewels of the mind -- this is Art. North American Review, March. 1888. **** **** PREFACE TO DR. EDGAR C. BEALL'S "THE BRAIN AND THE BIBLE." THIS book, written by a brave and honest man, is filled with brave and honest thoughts. The arguments it presents can not be answered by all the theologians in the world. The author is convinced that the universe is natural, that man is naturally produced, and that there is a necessary relation between character and brain. He sees, and clearly sees, that the theological explanation of phenomena is only a plausible absurdity, and, at best, as great a mystery as it tries to solve. I thank the man who breaks, or tries to break, the chains of custom, creed, and church, and gives in plain, courageous words, the product of his brain. It is almost impossible to investigate any subject without somewhere touching the religious prejudices of ourselves or others. Most people judge of the truth of a proposition by the consequences upon some preconceived opinion. Certain things they take as truths, and with this little standard in their minds, they measure all other theories. If the new facts do not agree with the standard, they are instantly thrown away, because it is much easier to dispose of the new facts than to reconstruct an entire philosophy. A few years ago, when men began to say that character could be determined by the form, quantity, and quality of the brain, the religious world rumbled to the conclusion that this fact might destroy what they were pleased to call the free moral agency of man. They admitted that all things in the physical world were links in the infinite chain of causes and effects, and that not one atom of the material universe could, by any possibility, be entirely exempt from the action of every other. They insisted that, if the motions of the spirit -- the thoughts, dreams, and conclusions of the brain, were as necessarily produced as stones and stars, virtue became necessity, and morality the result of forces capable of mathematical calculation. In other words, they insisted that, while there were causes for all material phenomena, a something called the Will sat enthroned above all law, and dominated the phenomena of the intellectual world. They insisted that man was free; that he controlled his brain; that he was responsible for thought as well as action; that the intellectual world of each man was a universe Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 11 PREFACE TO DR. EDGAR C. BEALL'S in which his will was king. They were afraid that phrenology might, in some way, interfere with the scheme of salvation, or prevent the eternal torment of some erring soul. It is insisted that man is free, and is responsible, because he knows right from wrong. But the compass does not navigate the ship; neither does it, in any way, of itself, determine the direction that is taken. When winds and waves are too powerful, the compass is of no importance. The pilot may read it correctly, and may know the direction the ship ought to take, but the compass is not a force. So men, blown by the tempests of passion, may have the intellectual conviction that they should go another way; but, of what use, of what force, is the conviction? Thousands of persons have gathered curious statistics for the purpose of showing that man is absolutely dominated by his surroundings. By these statistics is discovered what is called "the law of average." They show that there are about so many suicides in London every year, so many letters misdirected at Paris, so many men uniting themselves in marriage with women older than themselves in Belgium, so many burglaries to one murder in France, or so many persons driven insane by religion in the United States. It is asserted that these facts conclusively show that man is acted upon; that behind each thought. each dream, is the efficient cause, and that the doctrine of moral responsibility has been destroyed by statistics. But does the fact that about so many crimes are committed on the average, in a given population, or that so many any-things are done, prove that there is no freedom in human action? Suppose a population of ten thousand persons; and suppose, further, that they are free, and that they have the usual wants of mankind. Is it not unreasonable to say that they would act in some way? They certainly would take measures to obtain food, clothing, and shelter. If these people differed in intellect, in surroundings, in temperament, in strength, it is reasonable to suppose that all would not be equally successful. Under such circumstances, may we not safely infer that, in a little while, if the statistics were properly taken, a law of average would appear? In other words, free people would act; and, being different in mind, body, and circumstances, would not all act exactly alike. All would not be alike acted upon. The deviations from what might be thought wise, or right, would sustain such a relation to time and numbers that they could be expressed by a law of average. If this is true, the law of average does not establish necessity. But, in my supposed case, the people, after all, are not free. They have wants. They are under the necessity of feeding, clothing, and sheltering themselves. To the extent of their actual wants, they are not free. Every limitation is a master. Every finite being is a prisoner, and no man has ever yet looked above or beyond the prison walls. Our highest conception of liberty is to be free from the dictation of fellow prisoners. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 12 PREFACE TO DR. EDGAR C. BEALL'S To the extent that we have wants, we are not free. To the extent that we do not have wants, we do not act. If we are responsible for our thoughts, we ought not only to know how they are formed, but we ought to form them. If we are the masters of our own minds, we ought to be able to tell what we are going to think at any future time. Evidently, the food of thought -- its very warp and woof -- is furnished through the medium of the senses. If we open our eyes, we cannot help seeing. If we do not stop our ears, we cannot help hearing. If anything touches us, we feel it. The heart beats in spite of us. The lungs supply themselves with air without our knowledge. The blood pursues its old accustomed rounds, and all our senses act without our leave. As the heart beats, so the brain thinks. The will is not its king. As the blood flows, as the lungs expand, as the eyes see, as the ears hear, as the flesh is sensitive to touch, so the brain thinks. I hid a dream, in which I debated a question with a friend. I thought to myself: "This is a dream, and yet I can not tell what my opponent is going to say. Yet, if it is a dream, I am doing the thinking for both sides, and therefore ought to know in advance what my friend will urge." But, in a dream, there is some one who seems to talk to us. Our own brain tells us news, and presents an unexpected thought. Is it not possible that each brain is a field where all the senses sow the seeds of thought? Some of these fields are mostly barren, poor and hard, producing only worthless weeds; and some grow sturdy oaks and stately palms; and some are like the tropic world, where plants and trees and vines seem royal children of the soil and sun. Nothing seems more certain than that the capacity of a human being depends, other things being equal. upon the amount, form, and quality of his brain. We also know that health, disposition, temperament occupation, food, surroundings, ancestors, quality, form, and texture of the brain, determine what we call character. Man is collectively and individually, what his surroundings have made him. Nations differ from each other as greatly as individuals in the Same nation. Nations depend upon soil, climate, geographical position, and countless other facts. Shakespeare would have been impossible without the climate of England. There is a direct relation between Hamlet and the Gulf Stream. Dr. Draper has shown that the great desert of Sahara made negroes possible in Africa. If the Caribbean Sea had been a desert, negroes might have been produced in America. Are the effects of climate upon man necessary effects? Is it possible for man to escape them? Is he responsible for what he does as a consequence of his surroundings? Is the mind dependent upon causes? Does it act without cause? Is every thought a necessity? Can man choose without reference to any quality in the thing chosen? No one will blame Mr. Brown or Mr. Jones for not writing like Shakespeare. Should they be blamed for not acting like Christ? We say that a great painter has genius. Is it not possible that a certain genius is required to be what we called "good"? All men cannot be great. All men cannot be successful. Can all men be kind? Can all men be honest? Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 13 PREFACE TO DR. EDGAR C. BEALL'S It may be that a crime appears terrible in proportion as we realize its consequences. If this is true, morality may depend largely upon the imagination. Man cannot have imagination at will; that, certainly, is a natural product. And yet, a man's action may depend largely upon the want of imagination. One man may feel that he really wishes to kill another. He may make preparations to commit the deed; and yet, his imagination may present such pictures of horror and despair; he may so vividly see the widow clasping the mangled corpse; he may so plainly hear the cries and sobs of orphans, while the clods fall upon the coffin, that his hand is stayed. Another, lacking imagination, thirsting only for revenge, seeing nothing beyond the accomplishment of the deed, buries, with blind and thoughtless hate, the dagger in his victim's heart. Morality, for the most part, is the verdict of the majority. This verdict depends upon the intelligence of the people; and the intelligence depends upon the amount, form, and quality of the average brain. If the mind depends upon certain organs for the expression of its thought, does it have thought independently of those organs? Is there any mind without brain? Does the mind think apart from the brain, and then express its thought through the instrumentality of the brain? Theologians tell us that insanity is not a disease of the soul, but of the brain; that the soul is perfectly untouched; but that the instrument with which, and through which, it manifests itself, is impaired. The fact, however, seems to be, that the mind, the something that is the man, is unconscious of the fact that anything is out of order in the brain. Insane people insist that they are sane. If we should find a locomotive off the track, and the engineer using the proper appliances to put it back, we would say that the machine is out of order, but the engineer is not. But, if we found the locomotive upside down, with wheels in air, and the engineer insisting that it was on the track, and never running better, we would then conclude that something was wrong, not only with the locomotive, but with the engineer. We are told in medical books of a girl, who, at about the age of nine years, was attacked with some cerebral disease. When she recovered, she had forgotten all she ever knew, and had to relearn the alphabet, and the names of her parents and kindred. In this abnormal state, she was not a good girl; in the normal state, she was. After having lived in the second state for several years, she went back to the first; and all she had learned in the second state was forgotten, and all she had learned in the first was remembered. I believe she changed once more, and died in the abnormal state. In which of these states was she responsible? Were her thoughts and actions as free in one as in the other? It may be contended that, in her diseased state, the mind or soul could not correctly express itself. If this is so, it follows that, as no one is perfectly healthy, and as no one has a perfect brain, it is impossible that the soul should ever correctly express itself. Is the soul responsible for the defects of the brain? Is it not altogether more rational to say, that what we call mind depends upon the brain, and that the child -- mind, inherits the defects of its parent -- brain? Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 14 PREFACE TO DR. EDGAR C. BEALL'S Are certain physical conditions necessary to the production of what we call virtuous actions? Is it possible for anything to be produced without what we call cause, and, if the cause was sufficient, was it not necessarily produced? Do not most people mistake for freedom the right to examine their own chains? If morality depends upon conditions, should it not be the task of the great and good to discover such conditions? May it not be possible so to understand the brain that we can stop producing criminals? It may be insisted that there is something produced by the brain besides thought -- a something that takes cognizance of thoughts -- a something that weighs, compares, reflects and pronounces judgment. This something cannot find the origin of itself. Does it exist independently of the brain? Is it merely a looker-on? If it is a product of the brain, then its power, perception, and judgment depend upon the quantity, form, and quality of the brain. Man, including all his attributes, must have been necessarily produced, and the product was the child of conditions. Most reformers have infinite confidence in creeds, resolutions, and laws. They think of the common people as raw material, out of which they propose to construct institutions and governments, like mechanical contrivances, where each person will stand for a cog, rope, wheel, pulley, bolt, or fuel, and the reformers will be the managers and directors. They forget that these cogs and wheels have opinions of their own; that they fall out with other cogs, and refuse to turn with other wheels; that the pulleys and ropes have ideas peculiar to themselves, and delight in mutiny and revolution. These reformers have theories that can only be realized when other people have none. Some time, it will be found that people can be changed only by changing their surroundings. It is alleged that, at least ninety- five per cent. of the criminals transported from England to Australia and other penal colonies, became good and useful citizens in a new world. Free from former associates and associations, from the necessities of a hard, cruel, and competitive civilization, they became, for the most part, honest people. This immense fact throws more light upon social questions than all the theories of the world. All people are not able to support themselves. They lack intelligence, industry, cunning -- in short, capacity. They are continually falling by the way. In the midst of plenty, they are hungry. Larceny is born of want and opportunity. In passion's storm, the will is wrecked upon the reefs and rocks of crime. The complex, tangled web of thought and dream, of perception and memory, of imagination and judgment, of wish and will and want -- the woven wonder of a life -- has never yet been raveled back to simple threads. Shall we not become charitable and just, when we know that every act is but condition's fruit; that Nature, with her countless hands, scatters the seeds of tears and crimes -- of every virtue and of every joy; that all the base and vile are victims of the Blind, and that the good and great have, in the lottery of life, by chance or fate, drawn heart and brain? WASHINGTON, December 21, 1881. 15


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