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18 page printout Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship. Contents of this file page GEORGE JACOB HOLYOAKE. 1 A TRIBUTE TO HORACE SEAVER. 3 A TRIBUTE TO RICHARD H. WHITING. 8 A TRIBUTE TO ELIZUR WRIGHT. 9 LOTOS CLUB DINNER IN HONOR OF ANTON SEIDL. 12 THE TRUTH OF HISTORY. 16 **** **** 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 **** **** GEORGE JACOB HOLYOAKE. TWO articles have recently appeared attacking the motives of George Jacob Holyoake. He is spoken of as a man governed by a desire to please the rich and powerful, as one afraid of public opinion and who in the perilous hour denies or conceals his convictions. In these attacks there is not one word of truth. They are based upon mistakes and misconceptions. There is not in this world a nobler, braver man. In England he has done more for the great cause of intellectual liberty than any other man of this generation. He has done more for the poor, for the children of toil, for the homeless and wretched than any other living man. He has attacked all abuses, all tyranny and all forms of hypocrisy. His weapons have been reason, logic, facts, kindness, and above all, example. He has lived his creed. He has won the admiration and respect of his bitterest antagonists. He has the simplicity of childhood, the enthusiasm of youth and the wisdom of age. He is not abusive, but he is clear and conclusive. He is intense without violence -- firm without anger. He has the strength of perfect kindness. He does not hate -- he pities. He does not attack men and women, but dogmas and creeds. And he does not attack them to get the better of people, but to enable people to get the better of them. He gives the light he has. He shares his intellectual wealth with the orthodox poor. He assists without insulting, guides without arrogance, and enlightens without outrage. Besides, he is eminent for the exercise of plain common sense. He knows that there are wrongs besides those born of superstition -- that people are not necessarily happy because they have renounced the Thirty-nine Articles -- and that the priest is not the only enemy of mankind. He has for forty years been preaching and practicing industry, economy, self-reliance, and kindness. He has done all within his power to give the workingman a better home, better food, better wages, and better opportunities for the education of his children. He has demonstrated the success Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 1 GEORGE JACOB HOLYOAKE. of cooperation -- of intelligent combination for the common good. As a rule, his methods have been perfectly legal. In some instances he has knowingly violated the law, and did so with the intention to take the consequences. He would neither ask nor accept a pardon, because to receive a pardon carries with it the implied promise to keep the law, and an admission that you were in the wrong. He would not agree to desist from doing what he believed ought to be done, neither would he stain his past to brighten his future, nor imprison his soul to free his body. He has that happy mingling of gentleness and firmness found only in the highest type of moral heroes. He is an absolutely just man, and will never do an act that he would condemn in another. He admits that the most bigoted churchman has a perfect right to express his opinions not only, but that he must be met with argument couched in kind and candid terms. Mr. Holyoake is not only the enemy of a theological hierarchy, but he is also opposed to mental mobs. He will not use the bludgeon of epithet. Perfect fairness is regarded by many as weakness. Some people have altogether more confidence in their beliefs than in their own arguments. They resort to assertion. If what they assert be denied, the "debate" becomes a question of veracity. On both sides of most questions there are plenty of persons who imagine that logic dwells only in adjectives, and that to speak kindly of an opponent is a virtual surrender. Mr. Holyoake attacks the church because it has been, is, and ever will be the enemy of mental freedom, but he does not wish to deprive the church even of its freedom to express its opinion against freedom. He is true to his own creed, knowing that when we have freedom we can take care of all its enemies. In one of the articles to which I have referred it is charged that Mr. Holyoake refused to sign a petition for the pardon of persons convicted of blasphemy. If this is true, he undoubtedly had a reason satisfactory to himself. You will find that his action, or his refusal to act, rests upon a principle that he would not violate in his own behalf. Why should we suspect the motives of this man who has given his life for the good of others? I know of no one who is his mental or moral superior. He is the most disinterested of men. His name is a synonym of candor. He is a natural logician -- an intellectual marksman. Like an unerring arrow his thought flies to the heart and center. He is governed by principle, and makes no exception in his own favor. He is intellectually honest. He shows you the cracks and flaws in his own wares. He calls attention to the open joints and to the weakest links. He does not want a victory for himself, but for truth. He wishes to expose and oppose, not men, but error. He is blessed with that cloudless mental vision that appearances cannot deceive, that interest cannot darken, and that even ingratitude cannot blur. Friends cannot induce and enemies cannot drive this man to do an act that his heart and brain would not applaud. That such a character was formed without the aid of the church, without the hope of harp or fear of flame, is a demonstration against the necessity of superstition. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 2 GEORGE JACOB HOLYOAKE. Whoever is opposed to mental bondage, to the shackles wrought by cruelty and worn by fear, should be the friend of this heroic and unselfish man. I know something of his life -- something of what he has suffered -- of what he has accomplished for his fellow-men. He has been maligned, imprisoned and impoverished. "He bore the heat and burden of the unregarded day" and "remembered the misery of the many." For years his only recompense was ingratitude. At last he was understood. He was recognized as an earnest, honest, gifted, generous, sterling man, loving his country, sympathizing with the poor, honoring the useful, and holding in supreme abhorrence tyranny and falsehood in all their forms. The idea that this man could for a moment be controlled by any selfish motive by the hope of preferment, by the fear of losing a supposed annuity, is simply absurd. The authors of these attacks are not acquainted with Mr. Holyoake. Whoever dislikes him does not know him. Read his "Trial of Theism" -- his history of "Cooperation in England" -- if you wish to know his heart -- to discover the motives of his life -- the depth and tenderness of his sympathy -- the nobleness of his nature -- the subtlety of his thought -- the beauty of his spirit -- the force and volume of his brain -- the extent of his information -- his candor, his kindness, his genius, and the perfect integrity of his stainless soul. There is no man for whom I have greater respect, greater reverence, greater love, than George Jacob Holyoake. -- August 8. 1888. **** **** A TRIBUTE TO HORACE SEAVER. At Paine Hall, Boston, August 25, 1889. HORACE SEAVER was a pioneer, a torch-bearer, a toiler in that great field we call the world -- a worker for his fellow-men. At the end of his task he has fallen asleep, and we are met to tell the story of his long and useful life -- to pay our tribute to his work and worth. He was one who saw the dawn while others lived in night. He kept his face toward the "purpling east and watched the coming of the blessed day. He always sought for light. His object was to know -- to find a reason for his faith -- a fact on which to build. In superstition's sands he sought the gems of truth; in superstition's night he looked for stars. Born in New England -- reared amidst the cruel superstitions of his age and time, he had the manhood and the courage to investigate, and he had the goodness and the courage to tell his honest thoughts. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 3 A TRIBUTE TO HORACE SEAVER. He was always kind, and sought to win the confidence of men by sympathy and love. There was no taint or touch of malice in his blood. To him his fellows did not seem depraved -- they were not wholly bad -- there was within the heart of each the seeds of good. He knew that back of every thought and act were forces uncontrolled. He wisely said: "Circumstances furnish the seeds of good and evil, and man is but the soil in which they grow." He fought the creed, and loved the man. He pitied those who feared and shuddered at the thought of death -- who dwelt in darkness and in dread. The religion of his day filled his heart with horror. He was kind, compassionate, and tender, and could not fall upon his knees before a cruel and revengeful God -- he could not bow to one who slew with famine, sword and fire -- to one pitiless as pestilence, relentless as the lightning stroke. Jehovah had no attribute that he could love. He attacked the creed of New England -- a creed that had within it the ferocity of Knox, the malice of Calvin, the cruelty of Jonathan Edwards -- a religion that had a monster for a God -- a religion whose dogmas would have shocked cannibals feasting upon babes. Horace Seaver followed the light of his brain -- the impulse of his heart. He was attacked, but he answered the insulter with a smile; and even he who coined malignant lies was treated as a friend misled. He did not ask God to forgive his enemies -- he forgave them himself. He was sincere. Sincerity is the true and perfect mirror of the mind. It reflects the honest thought. It is the foundation of character, and without it there is no moral grandeur. Sacred are the lips from which has issued only truth. Over all wealth, above all station, above the noble, the robed and crowned, rises the sincere man. Happy is the man who neither paints nor patches, veils nor veneers. Blessed is he who wears no mask. The man who lies before us wrapped in perfect peace, practiced no art to hide or half conceal his thought. He did not write or speak the double words that might be useful in retreat. He gave a truthful transcript of his mind, and sought to make his meaning clear as light. To use his own words, he had "the courage which impels a man to do his duty, to hold fast his integrity, to maintain a conscience void of offence, at every hazard and at every sacrifice, in defiance of the world." He lived to his ideal. He sought the approbation of himself. He did not build his character upon the opinions of others, and it was out of the very depths of his nature that he asked this profound question: "What is there in other men that makes us desire their approbation, and fear their censure more than our own?" Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 4 A TRIBUTE TO HORACE SEAVER. Horace Seaver was a good and loyal citizen of the mental republic -- a believer in intellectual hospitality, one who knew that bigotry is born of ignorance and fear -- the provincialism of the brain. He did not belong to the tribe, or to the nation, but to the human race. His sympathy was wide as want, and, like the sky, bent above the suffering world. This man had that superb thing called moral courage -- courage in its highest form. He knew that his thoughts were not the thoughts of others -- that he was with the few, and that where one would take his side, thousands would be his eager foes. He knew that wealth would scorn and cultured ignorance deride, and that believers in the creeds, buttressed by law and custom, would hurl the missiles of revenge and hate. He knew that lies, like snakes, would fill the pathway of his life -- and yet he told his honest thought -- told it without hatred and without contempt -- told it as it really was. And so, through all his days, his heart was sound and stainless to the core. When he enlisted in the army whose banner is light, the honest investigator was looked upon as lost and cursed, and even Christian criminals held him in contempt. The believing embezzler, the orthodox wife-beater, even the murderer, lifted his bloody hands and thanked God that on his soul there was no stain of unbelief. In nearly every State of our Republic, the man who denied the absurdities and impossibilities lying at the foundation of what is called orthodox religion, was denied his civil rights. He was not canopied by the aegis of the law. He stood beyond the reach of sympathy. He was not allowed to testify against the invader of his home, the seeker for his life -- his lips were closed. He was declared dishonorable, because he was honest. His unbelief made him a social leper, a pariah, an outcast. He was the victim of religious hate and scorn. Arrayed against him were all the prejudices and all the forces and hypocrisies of society. All mistakes and lies were his enemies. Even the Theist was denounced as a disturber of the peace, although he told his thoughts in kind and candid words. He was called a blasphemer, because he sought to rescue the reputation of his God from the slanders of orthodox priests. Such was the bigotry of the time, that natural love was lost. The unbelieving son was hated by his pious sire, and even the mother's heart was by her creed turned into stone. Horace Seaver pursued his way. He worked and wrought as best he could, in solitude and want. He knew the day would come. He lived to be rewarded for his toil -- to see most of the laws repealed that had made outcasts of the noblest, the wisest, and the best. He lived to see the foremost preachers of the world attack the sacred creeds. He lived to see the sciences released from superstition's clutch. He lived to see the orthodox theologian take his place with the professor of the black art, the fortune-teller, and the astrologer. He lived to see the greatest of the world accept his thought -- to see the theologian displaced by the true priests of Nature -- by Humboldt and Darwin, by Huxley and Haeckel. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 5 A TRIBUTE TO HORACE SEAVER. Within the narrow compass of his life the world was changed. The railway, the steamship, and the telegraph made all nations neighbors. Countless inventions have made the luxuries of the past the necessities of to-day. Life has been enriched, and man ennobled. The geologist has read the records of frost and flame, of wind and wave -- the astronomer has told the story of the stars -- the biologist has sought the germ of life, and in every department of knowledge the torch of science sheds its sacred light. The ancient creeds have grown absurd. The miracles are small and mean. The inspired book is filled with fables told to please a childish world, and the dogma of eternal pain now shocks the heart and brain. He lived to see a monument unveiled to Bruno in the city of Rome -- to Giordano Bruno -- that great man who two hundred and eighty-nine years ago suffered death for having proclaimed the truths that since have filled the world with joy. He lived to see the victim of the church a victor -- lived to see his memory honored by a nation freed from papal chains. He worked knowing what the end must be -- expecting little while he lived -- but knowing that every fact in the wide universe was on his side. He knew that truth can wait, and so he worked patient as eternity. He had the brain of a philosopher and the heart of a child. Horace Seaver was a man of common sense. By that I mean, one who knows the law of average. He denied the Bible, not on account of what has been discovered in astronomy, or the length of time it took to form the delta of the Nile -- but he compared the things he found with what he knew. He knew that antiquity added nothing to probability -- that lapse of time can never take the place of cause, and that the dust can never gather thick enough upon mistakes to make them equal with the truth. He knew that the old, by no possibility, could have been more wonderful than the new, and that the present is a perpetual torch by which we know the past. To him all miracles were mistakes, whose parents were cunning and credulity. He knew that miracles were not, because they are not. He believed in the sublime, unbroken, and eternal march of causes and effects -- denying the chaos of chance, and the caprice of power. He tested the past by the now, and judged of all the men and races of the world by those he knew. He believed in the religion of free-thought and good deed -- of character, of sincerity, of honest endeavor, of cheerful help -- Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 6 A TRIBUTE TO HORACE SEAVER. and above all, in the religion of love and liberty -- in a religion for every day -- for the world in which we live -- for the present -- the religion of roof and raiment, of food, of intelligence, of intellectual hospitality -- the religion that gives health and happiness, freedom and contentment -- in the religion of work, and in the ceremonies of honest labor. He lived for this world; if there be another, he will live for that. He did what he could for the destruction of fear -- the destruction of the imaginary monster who rewards the few in heaven -- the monster who tortures the many in perdition. He was a friend of all the world, and sought to civilize the human race. For more than fifty years he labored to free the bodies and the souls of men -- and many thousands have read his words with joy. He sought the suffering and oppressed. He sat by those in pain -- and his helping hand was laid in pity on the brow of death. He asked only to be treated as he treated others. He asked for only what he earned, and had the manhood cheerfully to accept the consequences of his actions. He expected no reward for the goodness of another. But he has lived his life. We should shed no tears except the tears of gratitude. We should rejoice that he lived so long. In Nature's course, his time had come. The four seasons were complete in him. The Spring could never come again. The measure of his years was full. When the day is done -- when the work of a life is finished -- when the gold of evening meets the dusk of night, beneath the silent stars the tired laborer should fall asleep. To outlive usefulness is a double death. "Let me not live after my flame lacks oil, to be the snuff of younger spirits." When the old oak is visited in vain by Spring -- when light and rain no longer thrill -- it is not well to stand leafless, desolate, and alone. It is better far to fall where Nature softly covers all with woven moss and creeping vine. How little, after all, we know of what is ill or well! How little of this wondrous stream of cataracts and pools -- this stream of life, that rises in a world unknown, and flows to that mysterious sea whose shore the foot of one who comes has never pressed! How little of this life we know -- this struggling ray of light 'twixt gloom and gloom -- this strip of land by verdure clad, between the unknown wastes -- this throbbing moment filled with love and pain -- this dream that lies between the shadowy shores of sleep and death! We stand upon this verge of crumbling time. We love, we hope, we disappear. Again we mingle with the dust, and the "knot intrinsicate" forever falls apart. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 7 A TRIBUTE TO HORACE SEAVER. But this we know: A noble life enriches all the world. Horace Seaver lived for others. He accepted toil and hope deferred. Poverty was his portion. Like Socrates, he did not seek to adorn his body, but rather his soul with the jewels of charity, modesty, courage, and above all, with a love of liberty. Farewell, O brave and modest man! Your lips, between which truths burst into blossom, are forever closed. Your loving heart has ceased to beat. Your busy brain is still, and from your hand has dropped the sacred torch. Your noble, self-denying life has honored us, and we will honor you. You were my friend, and I was yours. Above your silent clay I pay this tribute to your worth. Farewell! **** **** A TRIBUTE TO RICHARD H. WHITING. New York, May 21, 1888. MY FRIENDS: The river of another life has reached the sea. Again we are in the presence of that eternal peace that we call death. My life has been rich in friends, but I never had a better or a truer one than he who lies in silence here. He was as steadfast, as faithful, as the stars. Richard H. Whiting was an absolutely honest man. His word was gold -- his promise was fulfillment -- and there never has been, there never will be, on this poor earth, any thing nobler than an honest, loving soul. This man was as reliable as the attraction of gravitation -- he knew no shadow of turning. He was as generous as autumn, as hospitable as summer, and as tender as a perfect day in June. He forgot only himself, and asked favors only for others. He begged for the opportunity to do good -- to stand by a friend, to support a cause, to defend what he believed to be right. He was a lover of nature -- of the woods, the fields and flowers. He was a home-builder. He believed in the family and the fireside -- in the sacredness of the hearth. He was a believer in the religion of deed, and his creed was to do good. No man has ever slept in death who nearer lived his creed. I have known him for many years, and have yet to hear a word spoken of him except in praise. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 8 A TRIBUTE TO RICHARD H. WHITING. His life was full of honor, of kindness and of helpful deeds. Besides all, his soul was free. He feared nothing, except to do wrong. He was a believer in the gospel of help and hope. He knew how much better, how much more sacred, a kind act is than any theory the brain has wrought. The good are the noble. His life filled the lives of others with sunshine. He has left a legacy of glory to his children. They can truthfully say that within their veins is right royal blood -- the blood of an honest, generous man, of a steadfast friend, of one who was true to the very gates of death. If there be another world, another life beyond the shore of this, -- if the great and good who died upon this orb are there, -- then the noblest and the best, with eager hands, have welcomed him -- the equal in honor, in generosity, of any one that ever passed beyond the veil. To me this world is growing poor. New friends can never fill the places of the old. Farewell! If this is the end, then you have left to us the sacred memory of a noble life. If this is not the end, there is no world in which you, my friend, will not be loved and welcomed. Farewell! **** **** A TRIBUTE TO ELIZUR WRIGHT. New York. December 19, 1885. ANOTHER hero has fallen asleep -- one who enriched the world with an honest life. Elizur Wright was one of the Titans who attacked the monsters, the Gods, of his time -- one of the few whose confidence in liberty was never shaken, and who, with undimmed eyes, saw the atrocities and barbarisms of his day and the glories of the future. When New York was degraded enough to mob Arthur Tappan, the noblest of her citizens; when Boston was sufficiently infamous to howl and hoot at Harriet Martineau, the grandest Englishwoman that ever touched our soil; when the North was dominated by theology and trade, by piety and piracy; when we received our morals from merchants, and made merchandise of our morals, Elizur Wright held principle above profit, and preserved his manhood at the peril of his life. When the rich, the cultured, and the respectable, -- when church members and ministers, who had been "called" to preach the "glad tidings," and when statesmen like Webster joined with bloodhounds, and in the name of God hunted men and mothers, this man rescued the fugitives and gave asylum to the oppressed. During those infamous years -- years of cruelty and national degradation -- years of hypocrisy and greed and meanness beneath Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 9 A TRIBUTE TO ELIZUR WRIGHT. the reach of any English word, Elizur Wright became acquainted with the orthodox church. He found that a majority of Christians were willing to enslave men and women for whom they said that Christ had died -- that they would steal the babe of a Christian mother, although they believed that the mother would be their equal in heaven forever. He found that those who loved their enemies would enslave their friends -- that people who when smitten on one cheek turned the other, were ready, willing and anxious to mob and murder those who simply said: "The laborer is worthy of his hire." In those days the church was in favor of slavery, not only of the body but of the mind. According to the creeds, God himself was an infinite master and all his children serfs. He ruled with whip and chain, with pestilence and fire. Devils were his bloodhounds, and hell his place of eternal torture. Elizur Wright said to himself, why should we take chains from bodies and enslave minds -- why fight to free the cage and leave the bird a prisoner? He became an enemy of orthodox religion -- that is to say, a friend of intellectual liberty. He lived to see the destruction of legalized larceny; to read the Proclamation of Emancipation; to see a country without a slave, a flag without a stain. He lived long enough to reap the reward for having been an honest man; long enough for his "disgrace" to become a crown of glory; long enough to see his views adopted and his course applauded by the civilized world; long enough for the hated word "abolitionist" to become a title of nobility, a certificate of manhood, courage and true patriotism. Only a few years ago, the heretic was regarded as an enemy of the human race. The man who denied the inspiration of the Jewish Scriptures was looked upon as a moral leper, and the Atheist as the worst of criminals. Even in that day, Elizur Wright was grand enough to speak his honest thought, to deny the inspiration of the Bible; brave enough to defy the God of the orthodox church -- the Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Eternal jailer, the Everlasting Inquisitor. He contended that a good God would not have upheld slavery and polygamy; that a loving Father would not assist some of his children to enslave or exterminate their brethren; that an infinite being would not be unjust, irritable, jealous, revengeful, ignorant, and cruel. And it was his great good fortune to live long enough to find the intellectual world on his side; long enough to know that the greatest naturalists, philosophers, and scientists agreed with him; long enough to see certain words change places, so that "heretic" was honorable and "orthodox " an epithet. To-day, the heretic is known to be a man of principle and courage -- one blest with enough mental independence to tell his thought. To-day, the thoroughly orthodox means the thoroughly stupid. Only a few years ago it was taken for granted that an "unbeliever" could not be a moral man; that one who disputed the inspiration of the legends of Judea could not be sympathetic and Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 10 A TRIBUTE TO ELIZUR WRIGHT. humane, and could not really love his fellow-men. Had we no other evidence upon this subject, the noble life of Elizur Wright would demonstrate the utter baselessness of these views. His life was spent in doing good -- in attacking the hurtful, in defending what he believed to be the truth. Generous beyond his means; helping others to help themselves; always hopeful, busy, just, cheerful; filled with the spirit of reform; a model citizen -- always thinking of the public good, devising ways and means to save something for posterity, feeling that what he had he held in trust; loving Nature, familiar with the poetic side of things, touched to enthusiasm by the beautiful thought, the brave word, and the generous deed; friendly in manner, candid and kind in speech, modest but persistent; enjoying leisure as only the industrious can; loving and gentle in his family; hospitable, -- judging men and women regardless of wealth, position or public clamor; physically fearless, intellectually honest, thoroughly informed; unselfish, sincere, and reliable as the attraction of gravitation. Such was Elizur Wright, -- one of the staunchest soldiers that ever faced and braved for freedom's sake the wrath and scorn and lies of place and power. A few days ago I met this genuine man. His interest in all human things was just as deep and keen, his hatred of oppression, his love of freedom, just as intense, just as fervid, as on the day I met him first. True, his body was old, but his mind was young, and his heart, like a spring in the desert, bubbled over as joyously as though it had the secret of eternal youth. But it has ceased to beat, and the mysterious veil that hangs where sight and blindness are the same -- the veil that revelation has not drawn aside -- that science cannot lift, has fallen once again between the living and the dead. And yet we hope and dream. May be the longing for another life is but the prophecy forever warm from Nature's lips, that love, disguised as death, alone fulfills. We cannot tell. And yet perhaps this Hope is but an antic, following the fortunes of an uncrowned king, beguiling grief with jest and satisfying loss with pictured gain. We do not know. But from the Christian's cruel hell, and from his heaven more heartless still, the free and noble soul, if forced to choose, should loathing turn, and cling with rapture to the thought of endless sleep. But this we know: good deeds are never childless. A noble life is never lost. A virtuous action does not die. Elizur Wright scattered with generous hand the priceless seeds, and we shall reap the golden grain. His words and acts are ours, and all he nobly did is living still. Farewell, brave soul! Upon thy grave I lay this tribute of respect and love. When last our hands were joined, I said these parting words: "Long life!" And I repeat them now. END **** **** Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 11 LOTOS CLUB DINNER IN HONOR OF ANTON SEIDL. New York, February 2, 1895. MR. PRESIDENT, MR. ANTON SEIDL, AND GENTLEMEN: I was enjoying myself with music and song; why I should be troubled, why I should be called upon to trouble you, is a question I can hardly answer. Still, as the president has remarked, the American people like to hear speeches. Why, I don't know. It has always been a matter of amazement that anybody wanted to hear me. Talking is so universal; with few exceptions -- the deaf and dumb -- everybody seems to be in the business. Why they should be so anxious to hear a rival I never could understand. But, gentlemen, we are all pupils of nature; we are taught by the countless things that touch us on every side; by field and flower and star and cloud and river and sea, where the waves break into whitecaps, and by the prairie, and by the mountain that lifts its granite forehead to the sun; all things in nature touch us, educate us, sharpen us, cause the heart to bud, to burst, it may be, into blossom; to produce fruit. In common with the rest of the world I have been educated a little that way; by the things I have seen and by the things I have heard and by the people I have met. But there are a few things that stand out in my recollection as having touched me more deeply than others, a few men to whom I feel indebted for the little I know, and for the little I happen to be. Those men, those things, are forever present in my mind. But I want to tell you to-night that the first man that let up the curtain in my mind, that ever opened a blind, that ever allowed a little sunshine to straggle in, was Robert Burns. I went to get my shoes mended, and I had to go with them. And I had to wait till they were done. I was like the fellow standing by the stream naked washing his shirt. A lady and gentleman were riding by in a carriage, and upon seeing him the man indignantly shouted, "Why don't you put on another shirt when you are washing one? " The fellow said, "I suppose you think I've got a hundred shirts!" When I went into the shop of the old Scotch shoemaker he was reading a book, and when he took my shoes in hand I took his book, which was "Robert Burns." In a few days I had a copy; and, indeed, gentlemen, from that time if "Burns" had been destroyed I could have restored more than half of it. It was in my mind day and night. Burns you know is a little valley, not very wide, but full of sunshine; a little stream runs down making music over the rocks, and children play upon the banks; narrow roads overrun with vines, covered with blossoms, happy children, the hum of bees, and little birds pour out their hearts and enrich the air. That is Burns. Then, you must know that I was raised respectably. Certain books were not thought to be good for the young person; only such books as would start you in the narrow road for the New Jerusalem. But one night I stopped at a little hotel in Illinois, many years ago, when we were not quite civilized, when the footsteps of the red man were still in the prairies. While I was waiting for supper an old man was reading from a book, and among others who were listening was myself. I was filled with wonder. I had never heard anything like it. I was ashamed to ask him what he was reading; I supposed that an intelligent boy ought to know. So I waited, and when the little bell rang for supper I hang back and they went out. I picked up the book; it was Sam Johnson's edition of Shakespeare. The next day I bought a copy for four dollars. My God! more than the Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 12 LOTOS CLUB DINNER IN HONOR OF ANTON SEIDL. national debt. You talk about the present straits of the Treasury I For days, for nights, for months, for years, I read those books, two volumes, and I commenced with the introduction. I haven't read that introduction for nearly fifty years, certainly forty-five, but I remember it still. Other writers are like a garden diligently planted and watered, but Shakespeare a forest where the oaks and elms toss their branches to the storm, where the pine towers, where the vine bursts into blossom at its foot. That book opened to me a new world, another nature. While Burns was the valley, here was a range of mountains with thousands of such valleys; while Burns was as sweet a star as ever rose into the horizon, here was a heaven filled with constellations. That book has been a source of perpetual joy to me from that day to this; and whenever I read Shakespeare -- if it ever happens that I fail to find some new beauty, some new presentation of some wonderful truth, or another word that bursts into blossom, I shall make up my mind that my mental faculties are failing, that it is not the fault of the book. Those, then, are two things that helped to educate me a little. Afterward I saw a few paintings by Rembrandt, and all at once I was overwhelmed with the genius of the man that could convey so much thought in form and color. Then I saw a few landscapes by Corot, and I began to think I knew something about art. During all my life, of course, like other people, I had heard what they call music, and I had my favorite pieces, most of those favorite pieces being favorites on account of association; and nine-tenths of the music that is beautiful to the world is beautiful because of the association, not because the music is good, but because of association. We cannot write a very poetic thing about a pump or about water works; they are not old enough. We can write a poetic thing about a well and a sweep and an old moss-covered bucket, and you can write a poem about a spring, because a spring seems a gift of nature, something that cost no trouble and no work, something that will sing of nature under the quiet stars of June. So, it is poetic on account of association. The stage coach is more poetic than the car, but the time will come when cars will be poetic, because human feelings, love's remembrances, will twine around them, and consequently they will become beautiful. There are two pieces of music, "The Last Rose of Summer," and "Home Sweet Home," with the music a little weak in the back; but association makes them both beautiful. So, in the "Marseillaise" is the French Revolution, that whirlwind and flame of war, of heroism the highest possible, of generosity, of self-denial, of cruelty, of all of which the human heart and brain are capable; so that music now sounds as though its notes were made of stars, and it is beautiful mostly by association. Now, I always felt that there must be some greater music somewhere, somehow. You know this little music that comes back with recurring emphasis every two inches or every three-and-a-half inches; I thought there ought to be music somewhere with a great sweep from horizon to horizon, and that could fill the great dome of sound with winged notes like the eagle; if there was not such music, somebody, sometime, would make it, and I was waiting for it. One day I heard it, and I said, "What music is that?" "Who wrote that?" I felt it everywhere. I was cold. I was almost hysterical. It answered to my brain, to my heart; not only to association, but Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 13 LOTOS CLUB DINNER IN HONOR OF ANTON SEIDL. to all there was of hope and aspiration, all my future; and they said this is the music of Wagner. I never knew one note from another -- of course I would know it from a promissory note -- and was utterly and absolutely ignorant of music until I heard Wagner interpreted by the greatest leader, in my judgment, in the world -- Anton Seidl. He not only understands Wagner in the brain, but he feels him in the heart, and there is in his blood the same kind of wild and splendid independence that was in the brain of Wagner. I want to say to-night, because there are so many heresies, Mr. President, creeping into this world, I want to say and say it with all my might, that Robert Burns was not Scotch. He was far wider than Scotland; he had in him the universal tide, and wherever it touches the shore of a human being it finds access. Not Scotch, gentlemen, but a man, a man! I can swear to it, or rather affirm, that shakespeare was not English, but another man, kindred of all, of all races and peoples, and who understood the universal brain and heart of the human race, and who had imagination enough to put himself in the place of all. And so I want to say to-night, because I want to be consistent, Richard Wagner was not a German, and his music is not German; and why? Germany would not have it. Germany denied that it was music. The great German critics said it was nothing in the world but noise. The best interpreter of Wagner in the world is not German, and no man has to be German to understand Richard Wagner. In the heart of nearly every man is an AEolian harp, and when the breath of true genius touches that harp, every man that has one, or that knows what music is or has the depth and height of feeling necessary to appreciate it, appreciates Richard Wagner. To understand that music, to hear it as interpreted by this great leader, is an education. It develops the brain; it gives to the imagination wings; the little earth grows larger; the people grow important; and not only that, it civilizes the heart; and the man who understands that music can love better and with greater intensity than he ever did before. The man who understands and appreciates that music, becomes in the highest sense spiritual -- and I don't mean by spiritual, worshiping some phantom, or dwelling upon what is going to happen to some of us -- I mean spiritual in the highest sense; when a perfume arises from the heart in gratitude, and when you feel that you know what there is of beauty, of sublimity, of heroism and honor and love in the human heart. This is what I mean by being spiritual. I don't mean denying yourself here and living on a crust with the expectation of eternal joy -- that is not what I mean. By spiritual I mean a man that has an ideal, a great ideal, and who is splendid enough to live to that ideal; that is what I mean by spiritual. And the man who has heard the music of Wagner, that music of love and death, the greatest music, in my judgment, that ever issued from the human brain, the man who has heard that and understands it has been civilized, Another man to whom I feel under obligation whose name I do not know -- I know Burns, Shakespeare, Rembrandt and Wagner, but there are some other fellows whose names I do not know -- is he who chiseled the Venus de Milo. This man helped to civilize the world; and there is nothing under the sun so pathetic as the perfect. Whoever creates the perfect has thought and labored and suffered; and no perfect thing has ever been done except through suffering Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 14 LOTOS CLUB DINNER IN HONOR OF ANTON SEIDL. and except through the highest and holiest thought, and among this class of men is Wagner. Let me tell you something more. You know I am a great believer. There is no man in the world who believes more in human nature than I do. No man believes more in the nobility and splendor of humanity than I do; no man feels more grateful than I to the self-denying, heroic, splendid souls who have made this world fit for ladies and gentlemen to live in. But I believe that the human mind has reached its top in three departments. I don't believe the human race -- no matter if it lives millions of years more upon this wheeling world -- I don't believe the human race will ever produce in the world anything greater, sublimer, than the marbles of the Greeks. I do not believe it. I believe they reach absolutely the perfection of form and the expression of force and passion in stone. The Greeks made marble as sensitive as flesh and as passionate as blood. I don't believe that any human being of any coming race -- no matter how many suns may rise and set, or how many religions may rise and fall, or how many languages be born and decay -- I don't believe any human being will ever excel the dramas of Shakespeare. Neither do I believe that the time will ever come when any man with such instruments of music as we now have, and having nothing but the common air that we now breathe, will ever produce greater pictures in sound, greater music, than Wagner. Never! Never! And I don't believe he will ever have a better interpreter than Anton Seidl. Seidl is a poet in sound, a sculptor in sound. He is what you might call an orchestral orator, and as such he expresses the deepest feelings, the highest aspirations and the intensest and truest love of which the brain and heart of man are capable. Now, I am glad, I am delighted, that the people here in this city and in various other cities of our great country are becoming civilized enough to appreciate these harmonies; I am glad they are civilized at last enough to know that the home of music is tone, not tune; that the home of music is in harmonies where you braid them like rainbows; I am glad they are great enough and civilized enough to appreciate the music of Wagner, the greatest music in this world. Wagner sustains the same relation to other composers that Shakespeare does to other dramatists, and any other dramatist compared with Shakespeare is like one tree compared with an immeasurable forest, or rather like one leaf compared with a forest; and all the other composers of the world are embraced in the music of Wagner. Nobody has written anything more tender than he, nobody anything sublimer than he. Whether it is the song of the deep, or the warble of the mated bird, nobody has excelled Wagner; he has expressed all that the human heart is capable of appreciating. And now, gentlemen, having troubled you long enough, and saying long live Anton Seidl, I bid you good-night. END **** **** Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 15 THE TRUTH OF HISTORY. 1887 Thousands of Christians have asked: How was it possible for Christ and his apostles to deceive the people of Jerusalem? How came the miracles to be believed? Who had the impudence to say that lepers had been cleansed, and that the dead had been raised? How could such impostors have escaped exposure? I ask: How did Mohammed deceive the people of Mecca? How has the Catholic Church imposed upon millions of people? Who can account for the success of falsehood? Millions of people are directly interested in the false. They live by lying. To deceive is the business of their lives. Truth is a cripple; lies have wings. It is almost impossible to overtake and kill and bury a lie. If you do, some one will erect a monument over the grave, and the lie is born again as an epitaph. Let me give you a case in point. A few days ago the Matlock Register, a paper published in England, printed the following: CONVERSION OF THE ARCH ATHEIST. Mr. Isaac Loveland, of Shoreham, desires us to insert the following: -- November 27, 1886. "Dear Mr. Loveland. -- A day or two since, I received from Mr. Hine the exhilarating intelligence that through his lectures on the 'Identity of the British Nation with Lost Israel,' in Canada and the United States, that Col. Bob Ingersoll, the arch Atheist, has been converted to Christianity, and has joined the Episcopal Church. Praise the Lord! ! ! 5,000 of his followers have been won for Christ through Mr. Hine's grand mission work, the other side of the Atlantic. The Colonel's cousin, the Rev. Mr. Ingersoll, wrote to Mr. Hine soon after he began lecturing in America, informing him that his lectures had made a great impression on the Colonel and other Atheists. I noted it at the time in the Messenger. Bradlaugh will yet be converted; his brother has been, and has joined a British Israel Identity Association. This is progress, and shows what an energetic, determined man (like Mr. Hine), who is earnest in his faith, can do. "Very faithfully yours, H. HODSON RUGG." How can we account for an article like that? Who made up this story? Who had the impudence to publish it? Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 16 CONVERSION OF THE ARCH ATHEIST. As a matter of fact, I never saw Mr. Hine, never heard of him until this extract was received by me in the month of December. I never read a word about the "Identity of Lost Israel with the British Nation." It is a question in which I never had, and never expect to have, the slightest possible interest. Nothing can be more preposterous than that the Englishman in whose veins can be found the blood of the Saxon, the Dine, the Norman, the Pict, the Scot and the Celt, is the descendant of "Abraham, Isaac and jacob." The English language does not bear the remotest resemblance to the Hebrew, and yet it is claimed by the Reverend Hodson Rugg that not only myself, but five thousand other Atheists, were converted by the Rev. Mr. Hine, because of his theory that Englishmen and Americans are simply Jews in disguise. This letter, in my judgment, was published to be used by missionaries in China, Japan, India and Africa. If stories like this can be circulated about a living man, what may we not expect concerning the dead who have opposed the church? Countless falsehoods have been circulated about all the opponents of Superstition. Whoever attacks the popular falsehoods of his time will find that a lie defends itself by telling other lies. Nothing is so prolific, nothing can so multiply itself, nothing can lay and hatch as many eggs, as a good, healthy, religious lie. And nothing is more wonderful than the credulity of the believers in the supernatural. They feel under a kind of obligation to believe everything in favor of their religion, or against any form of what they are pleased to call Infidelity." The old falsehoods about Voltaire, Paine, Hume, Julian, Diderot and hundreds of others, grow green every spring. They are answered; they are demonstrated to be without the slightest foundation; but they rarely die. And when one does die there seems to be a kind of Caesarian operation, so that in each instance although the mother dies the child lives to undergo, if necessary, a like operation, leaving another child, and sometimes two. There are thousands and thousands of tongues ready to repeat what the owners know to be false, and these lies are a part of the stock in trade, the valuable assets, of superstition. No church can afford to throw its property away. To admit that these stories are false now, is to admit that the church has been busy lying for hundreds of years, and it is also to admit that the word of the church is not and cannot be taken as evidence of any fact. A few years ago, I had a little controversy with the editor of the New York Observer. the Rev. Irenaeus Prime, (who is now supposed to be in heaven enjoying the bliss of seeing Infidels in hell), as to whether Thomas Paine recanted his religious opinions. I offered to deposit a thousand dollars for the benefit of a charity, if the reverend doctor would substantiate the charge that Paine recanted. I forced the New York Observer to admit that Paine did not recant, and compelled that paper to say that "Thomas Paine died a blaspheming Infidel." Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 17 CONVERSION OF THE ARCH ATHEIST. A few months afterward an English paper was sent to me -- a religious paper -- and in that paper was a statement to the effect that the editor of the New York Observer had claimed that Paine recanted; that I had offered to give a thousand dollars to any charity that Mr. Prime might select, if he would establish the fact that Paine did recant; and that so overwhelming was the testimony brought forward by Mr. Prime, that I admitted that Paine did recant, and paid the thousand dollars. This is another instance of what might be called the truth of history. I wrote to the editor of that paper, telling the exact facts, and offering him advertising rates to publish the denial, and in addition, stated that if he would send me a copy of his paper with the denial, I would send him twenty-five dollars for his trouble. I received no reply, and the lie is in all probability still on its travels, going from Sunday school to Sunday school, from pulpit to pulpit, from hypocrite to savage, -- that is to say, from missionary to Hottentot -- without the slightest evidence of fatigue -- fresh and strong, -- and in its cheeks the roses and lilies of perfect health. Some person, expecting to add another gem to his crown of glory, put in circulation the story that one of my daughters had joined the Presbyterian Church, -- a story without the slightest foundation -- and although denied a hundred times, it is still being printed and circulated for the edification of the faithful. Every few days I receive some letter of inquiry as to this charge, and I have industriously denied it for years, but up to the present time, it shows no signs of death -- not even of weakness. Another religious gentleman put in print the charge that my son, having been raised in the atmosphere of Infidelity, had become insane and died in an asylum. Notwithstanding the fact that I never had a son, the story still goes right on, and is repeated day after day without the semblance of a blush. Now, if all this is done while I am alive and well, and while I have all the facilities of our century for spreading the denials, what will be done after my lips are closed? The mendacity of superstition is almost enough to make a man believe in the supernatural. And so I might go on for a hundred columns. Billions of falsehoods have been told and there are trillions yet to come. The doctrines of Malthus have nothing to do with this particular kind of reproduction. And there are also many other falsehoods which the church has told, the which if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written" The Truth Seeker, Now York, February. 19. 1887. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 18


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