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20 page printout Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship. Contents of this file page CONVENTION OF THE NATIONAL LIBERAL LEAGUE. 1 HOW TO EDIT A LIBERAL PAPER. 2 LIFE. 4 THE LIBEL LAWS. 5 IS IT EVER RIGHT FOR HUSBAND OR WIFE TO KILL A RIVAL? 6 INSPIRATION. 10 THE JEWS. 13 OUR SCHOOLS. 19 **** **** 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 **** **** CONVENTION OF THE NATIONAL LIBERAL LEAGUE. Cincinnati, Ohio, September 14, 1879. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: Allow me to say that the cause nearest my heart, and to which I am willing to devote the remainder of my life, is the absolute, the absolute, enfranchisement of the human mind. I believe that the family is the unit of good government, and that every good government is simply an aggregation of good families. I therefore not only believe in perfect civil and religions liberty, but I believe in the one man loving the one woman. I believe the real temple of the human heart is the hearthstone, and that there is where the sacrifice of life should be made; and just in proportion as we have that idea in this country, just in that proportion we shall advance and become a great, glorious and splendid nation. I do not want the church or the state to come between the man and wife. I want to do what little I can while I live to strengthen and render still more sacred the family relation. I am also in favor of granting every right to every other human being that I claim for myself; and when I look about upon the world and see how the children that are born to-day, or this year, or this age, came into a world that has nearly all been taken up before their arrival; when I see that they have not even an opportunity to labor for bread; when I see that in our splendid country some who do the most have the least, and others who do the least have the most; I say to myself there is something wrong somewhere, and I hope the time will come when every child that nature has invited to our feast will have an equal right with all the others. There is only one way, in my judgment, to bring that about; and that is, first, not simply by the education of the head, but by the universal education of the heart. The time will come when a man with millions in his possession will not be respected unless with those millions he improves the condition of his fellow men. The time will come when it will be utterly impossible for a man to go down to death, grasping millions in the clutch of avarice. The time will come when it will be impossible Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 1 CONVENTION OF THE NATIONAL LIBERAL LEAGUE. for such a man to exist, for he will be followed by the scorn and execration of mankind. The time will come when such a man when stricken by death, cannot purchase the favor of posterity by leaving a portion of the gains which he has wrung from the poor, to some church or Bible society for the glory of God. Now, let me say that we have met together as a Liberal League. We have passed the same platform again; but if you will read that platform you will see that it covers nearly every word that I have spoken -- universal education -- the laws of science included, not the guesses of superstition -- universal education, not for the next world but for this -- happiness, not so much for an unknown land beyond the clouds as for this life in this world. I do not say that there is not another life. If there is any God who has allowed his children to be oppressed in this world he certainly needs another life to reform the blunders he has made in this. Now, let us all agree that we will stand by each other splendidly, grandly; and when we come into convention let us pass resolutions that are broad, kind, and genial, because, if you are true Liberals, you will hold in a kind of tender pity the most outrageous superstitions in the world. I have said some things in my time that were not altogether charitable; but, after all, when I think it over, I see that men are as they are, because they are the result of every thing that has ever been. Sometimes I think the clergy a necessary evil; but I say, let us be genial and kind, and let us know that every other person has the same right to be a Catholic or a Presbyterian, and gather consolation from the doctrine of reprobation, that he has the same right to be a Methodist or a Christian Disciple or a Baptist; the same right to believe these phantasies and follies and superstitions -- [A voice -- "And to burn heretics?"] No -- The same right that we have to believe that it is all superstition. But when that Catholic or Baptist or Methodist endeavors to put chains on the bodies or intellects of men, it is then the duty of every Liberal to prevent it at all hazards. If we can do any good in our day and generation, let us do it. There is no office I want in this world. I will make up my mind as to the next when I get there, because my motto is -- and with that motto I will close what I have to say - My motto is: One world at a time! END **** **** HOW TO EDIT A LIBERAL PAPER. A LIBERAL paper should be edited by a Liberal man. And by the word Liberal I mean, not only free, not only one who thinks for himself, not only one who has escaped from the prisons of customs and creed, but one who is candid, intelligent and kind -- that is to say, Liberal toward others. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 2 HOW TO EDIT A LIBERAL PAPER. This Liberal editor should not forever play upon one string, no matter how wonderful the music. He should not have his attention forever fixed upon one question -- that is to say, he should not look through a reversed telescope and narrow his horizon to that degree that he sees only one thing. To know that the Bible is the literature of a barbarous people, to know that it is uninspired, to be certain that the supernatural does not and cannot exist -- all this is but the beginning of wisdom. This only lays the foundation for unprejudiced observation. To kill weeds, to fell forests, to drove away or exterminate wild beasts -- this is preparatory to doing something of greater value. Of course the weeds must be killed, the forests must be felled. and the beasts must be destroyed before the building of homes and the cultivation of fields. A Liberal paper should not discuss theological questions alone. Intelligent people everywhere have given up most of the old superstitions. They have pretty well made up their minds what is false, and they want to know something that is true. For this reason, a Liberal paper should keep abreast of the discoveries of the human mind. No science should be neglected; no fact should be overlooked. Inventions should be described and understood. And not only this, but the beautiful in thought, in form and color, should be preserved. The paper should be filled with things calculated to interest thoughtful, intelligent and serious people. There should be a column for children as well as for men and women. Above all, it should be perfectly kind and candid. In discussion there is no place for hatred, no opportunity for slander. A personality is always out of place. An angry man can neither reason himself, nor perceive the reason of what another says. The orthodox world has always dealt in personalities. Every minister can answer the argument of an opponent by attacking the character of the opponent. This example should never be followed by a Liberal man. Nobody can be bad enough to prove that the Bible is uninspired, and nobody can be good enough to prove that it is the word of God. These facts have no relation. They neither stand nor fall together. Nothing should be asserted that is not known. Nothing should be denied, the falsity of which has not been, or cannot be, demonstrated. Opinions are simply given for what they are worth. They are guesses, and one guesser should give to another guesser all the right of guessing that he claims for himself. Upon the great questions of origin, of destiny, of immortality, of punishment and reward in other worlds, every honest man must say, "I do not know." Upon these questions, this is the creed of intelligence. Nothing is harder to bear than the egotism of ignorance and the arrogance of superstition. The man who has some knowledge of the difficulties surrounding these subjects, who knows something of the limitations of the human mind, must, of necessity, be mentally modest. And this condition of mental modesty is the only one consistent with individual progress. Above all, and over all, a Liberal paper should teach the absolute freedom of the mind, the utter independence of the individual, the perfect liberty of speech. We should remember that Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 3 HOW TO EDIT A LIBERAL PAPER. the world is as it must be; that the present is the necessary offspring of the past; that the future must be what the present makes it, and that the real work of the reformer, of the philanthropist, is to change the conditions of the present, to the end that the future may be better. -- Secular Thought, Toronto, January 8, 1887. END **** **** LIFE. BORN of love and hope, of ecstasy and pain, of agony and fear, of tears and joy -- dowered with the wealth of two united hearts -- held in happy arms, with lips upon life's drifted font, blue-veined and fair, where perfect peace finds perfect form -- rocked by willing feet and wooed to shadowy shores of sleep by siren mother singing soft and low -- looking with wonder's wide and startled eyes at common things of life and day -- taught by want and wish and contact with the things that touch the dimpled flesh of babes -- lured by light and flame, and charmed by color's wondrous robes -- learning the use of hands and feet, and by the love of mimicry beguiled to utter speech -- releasing prisoned thoughts from crabbed and curious marks on soiled and tattered leaves -- puzzling the brain with crooked numbers and their changing, tangled worth -- and so through years of alternating day and night, until the captive grows familiar with the chains and walls and limitations of a life. And time runs on in sun and shade, until the one of all the world is wooed and won, and all the lore of love is taught and learned again. Again a home is built with the fair chamber wherein faint dreams, like cool and shadowy vales, divide the billowed hours of love. Again the miracle of a birth -- the pain and joy, the kiss of welcome and the cradle-song drowning the drowsy prattle of a babe. And then the sense of obligation and of wrong -- pity for those who toil and weep -- tears for the imprisoned and despised -- love for the generous dead, and in the heart the rapture of a high resolve. And then ambition, with its lust of pelf and place and power, longing to put upon its breast distinction's worthless badge. Then keener thoughts of men, and eyes that see behind the smiling mask of craft -- flattered no more by the obsequious cringe of gain and greed -- knowing the uselessness of hoarded gold -- of honor bought from those who charge the usury of self-respect -- of power that only bends a coward's knees and forces from the lips of fear the lies of praise. Knowing at last the unstudied gesture of esteem, the reverent eyes made rich with honest thought, and holding high above all other things -- high as hope's great throbbing star above the darkness of the dead -- the love of wife and child and friend, Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 4 LIFE. Then locks of gray, and growing love of other days and half- remembered things -- then holding withered hands of those who first held his, while over dim and loving eyes death softly presses down the lids of rest, And so, locking in marriage vows his children's hands and crossing others on the breasts of peace, with daughters' babes upon his knees, the white hair mingling with the gold, he journeys on from day to day to that horizon where the dusk is waiting for the night. -- At last, sitting by the holy hearth of home as evening's embers change from red to gray, he falls asleep within the arms of her he worshiped and adored, feeling upon his pallid lips love's last and holiest kiss. END **** **** THE LIBEL LAWS. Question. Have you any suggestions to make in regard to remodeling the libel laws? Answer. I believe that every article appearing in a paper should be signed by the writer. If it is libelous, then the writer and the publisher should both be held responsible in damages. The law on this subject, if changed, should throw greater safeguards around the reputation of the citizen. It does not seem to me that the papers have any right to complain. Probably a good many suits are brought that should not be instituted, but just think of the suits that are not brought. Personally I have no complaint to make, as it would be very hard to find anything in any paper against me, but it has never occurred to me that the press needed any greater liberty than it now enjoys. It might be a good thing for a paper to publish each week, a list of mistakes, if this could be done without making that edition too large. But certainly when a false and scandalous charge has been made by mistake or as the result of imposition, great pains should be taken to give the retraction at once and in a way to attract attention. I suppose the papers are liable to be imposed upon -- liable to print thousands of articles to which the attention of the editor or proprietor was not called. Still, that is not the fault of the man whose character is attacked. On the whole I think the papers have the advantage of the average citizen as the law now is. If all articles had to be signed by the writer, I am satisfied the writer would be more careful and less liable to write anything of a libelous nature. I am willing to admit that I have given but little attention to the subject, probably for the reason that I have never been a sufferer. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 5 THE LIBEL LAWS. It would hardly do to hold only the writer responsible. Suppose a man writes a libelous article, leaves the country, and then the article is published; is there no remedy? A suit for libel is not much of a remedy, I admit, but it is some. It is like the bayonet in war. Very few are injured by bayonets, but a good many are afraid that they may be. The Herald, Now York, October 1888. END **** **** IS IT EVER RIGHT FOR HUSBAND OR WIFE TO KILL A RIVAL? HOW far should a husband or wife go in defending the sanctity of home? Is it right for the husband to kill the paramour of his wife? Is it right for the wife to kill the paramour of her husband? These three questions are in substance one, and one answer will be sufficient for all. In the first place, we should have an understanding of the real relation that exists, or should exist, between husband and wife. The real good orthodox people, those who admire St. Paul, look upon the wife as the property of the husband. He owns, not only her body, but her very soul. This being the case, no other man has the right to steal or try to steal this property. The owner has the right to defend his possession, even to the death. In the olden time the husband was never regarded as the property of the wife, She had a claim on him for support, and there was usually some way to enforce the claim. If the husband deserted the wife for the sake of some other woman, or transferred his affections to another, the wife, as a rule, suffered in silence. Sometimes she took her revenge on the woman, but generally she did nothing. Men killed the "destroyers" of their homes, but the women, having no homes, being only wives, nothing but mothers -- bearers of babes for masters -- allowed their destroyers to live. In recent years women have advanced. They have stepped to the front. Wives are no longer slaves. They are the equals of husbands. They have homes to defend, husbands to protect and "destroyers" to kill. The rights of husbands and wives are now equal. They live under the same moral code. Their obligations to each other are mutual. Both are bound, and equally bound, to live virtuous lives. Now, if A falls in love with the wife of B, and she returns his love, has B the right to kill him? Or if A falls in love with the husband of B, and he returns her love, has B the right to kill her? Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 6 IS IT EVER RIGHT FOR HUSBAND OR WIFE TO KILL A RIVAL? If the wronged husband has the right to kill, so has the wronged wife. Suppose that a young man and woman are engaged to be married, and that she falls in love with another and marries him, has the first lover a right to kill the last? This leads me to another question: What is marriage? Men and women cannot truly be married by any set or form of words, or by any ceremonies however solemn, or by contract signed, sealed and witnessed; or by the words or declarations of priests or judges. All these put together do not constitute marriage. At the very best they are only evidences of the fact of marriage -- something that really happened between the parties. Without pure, honest, mutual love there can be no real marriage. Marriage without love is only a form of prostitution. Marriage for the sake of position or wealth is immoral. No good, sensible man wants to marry a woman whose heart is not absolutely his, and no good, sensible woman wants to marry a man whose heart is not absolutely hers. Now, if there can be no real marriage without mutual love, does the marriage outlast the love? If it is immoral for a woman to marry a man without loving him, is it moral for her to live as the wife of a man whom she has ceased to love? Is she bound by the words, by the ceremony, after the real marriage is dead? Is she so bound that the man she hates has the right to be the father of her babes? If a girl is engaged and afterward meets her ideal, a young man whose presence is joy, whose touch is ecstasy, is it her duty to fulfill her engagement? Would it not be a thousand times nobler and purer for her to say to the first lover: "I thought I loved you; I was mistaken. I belong heart and soul to another, and if I married you I could not be yours." So, if a young man is engaged and finds that he has made a mistake, is it honorable for him to keep his contract? Would it not be far nobler for him to tell her the truth? The civilized man loves a woman not only for his own sake, but for her sake. He longs to make her happy -- to fill her life with joy. He is willing to make sacrifices for her, but he does not want her to sacrifice herself for him. The civilized husband wants his wife to be free wants the love that she cannot help giving him. He does not want her, from a sense of duty, or because of the contract of ceremony, to act as though she loved him, when in fact her heart is far away. He does not want her to pollute her soul and live a lie for his sake. The civilized husband places the happiness of his wife above his own. Her love is the wealth of his heart, and to guard her from evil is the business of his life. But the civilized husband knows when his wife ceases to love him that the real marriage has also ceased. He knows that it is then infamous for him to compel her to remain his wife. He knows that it is her right to be free -- that her body belongs to her, that her soul is her own. He knows, too, if he knows anything, that her affection is not the slave of her will. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 7 IS IT EVER RIGHT FOR HUSBAND OR WIFE TO KILL A RIVAL? In a case like this, the civilized husband would, so far as hehad the power, release his wife from the contract of marriage, divide his property fairly with her and do what he could for her welfare. Civilized love never turns to hatred. Suppose he should find that there was a man in the case, that another had won her love, or that she had given her love to another, would it then be his right or duty to kill that man? Would the killing do any good? Would it bring back her love? Would it reunite the family? Would it annihilate the disgrace or the memory of the shame? Would it lessen the husband's loss? Society says that the husband should kill the man because he led the woman astray. How do we know that he betrayed the woman? Mrs. Potiphar left many daughters, and Joseph certainly had but few sons. How do we know that it was not the husband's fault? She may for years have shivered in the winter of his neglect. She may have borne his cruelties of word and deed until her love was dead and buried side by side with hope. Another man comes into her life. He pities her. She looks and loves. He lifts her from the grave. Again she really lives, and her poor heart is rich with love's red blood. Ought this man to be killed? He has robbed no husband, wronged no man. He has rescued a victim, released an innocent prisoner and made a life worth living. But the brutal husband says that the wife has been led astray; that he has been wronged and dishonored, and that it is his right, his duty, to shed the seducer's blood. He finds the facts himself. He is witness, jury, judge and executioner. He forgets his neglect, his cruelties, his faithlessness; forgets that he drove her from his heart, remembers only that she loves another, and then in the name of justice he takes the life of the one she loves. A husband deserts his wife, leaves her without money, without the means to live, with his babes in her arms. She cannot get a divorce; she must wait, and in the meantime she must live. A man falls in love with her and she with him. He takes care of her and the deserted children. The "wronged" husband returns and kills the "betrayer" of his wife. He believes in the sacredness of marriage, the holiness of home. It may be admitted that the deserted wife did wrong, and that the man who cared for her and her worse than fatherless children also did wrong, but certainly he had done nothing for which he deserved to be murdered. A woman finds that her husband is in love with another woman, that he is false, and the question is whether it is her right to kill the other woman. The wronged husband has always claimed that the man led his wife astray, that he had crept and crawled into his Eden, but now the wronged wife claims that the woman seduced her husband, that she spread the net, wove the web and baited the trap in which the innocent husband was caught. Thereupon she kills the other woman. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 8 IS IT EVER RIGHT FOR HUSBAND OR WIFE TO KILL A RIVAL? In the first place, how can she be sure of the facts? How doesshe know whose fault it was? Possibly she was to blame herself. But what good has the killing done? It will not give her back her husband's love. It will not cool the fervor of her jealousy. It will not give her better sleep or happier dreams. It would have been far better if she had said to her husband: "Go with the woman you love. I do not want your body without your heart, your presence without your love." So, it would be better for the wronged husband to say to the unfaithful wife: "Go with the man you love. Your heart is his, I am not your master. You are free." After all, murder is a poor remedy. If you kill a man for one wrong, why not for another? If you take the law into your own hands and kill a man because he loves your wife and your wife loves him, why not kill him for any injury he may inflict on you or yours? In a civilized nation the people are governed by law. They do not redress their own wrongs. They submit their differences to courts. If they are wronged they appeal to the law. Savages redress what they call their wrongs, They appeal to knife or gun. They kill, they assassinate, they murder; and they do this to preserve their honor. Admit that the seducer of the wife deserves death, that the woman who leads the husband astray deserves death, admit that both have justly forfeited their lives, the question yet remains whether the wronged husband and the wronged wife have the right to commit murder. If they have this right, then there ought to be some way provided for ascertaining the facts. Before the husband kills the "betrayer," the fact that the wife was really led astray should be established, and the "wronged" husband. who claims the right to kill, should show that he had been a good, loving and true husband. As a rule, the wives of good and generous men are true and faithful. They love their homes, they adore their children. In poverty and disaster they cling the closer. But when husbands are indolent and mean, when they are cruel and selfish, when they make a hell of home, why should we insist that their wives should love them still? When the civilized man finds that his wife loves another he does not kill, he does not murder. He says to his wife, "You are free." When the civilized woman finds that her husband loves another she does not kill, she does not murder. She says to her husband, "I am free." This, in my judgment, is the better way. It is in accordance with a far higher philosophy of life, of the real rights of others. The civilized man is governed by his reason, his intelligence; the savage by his passions. The civilized man seeks for the right, regardless of himself; the savage for revenge, regardless of the rights of others. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 9 IS IT EVER RIGHT FOR HUSBAND OR WIFE TO KILL A RIVAL? I do not believe that murder guards the sacredness of home, the purity of the fireside. I do not believe that crime wins victories for virtue. I believe in liberty and I believe in law. That country is free where the people make and honestly uphold the law. I am opposed to a redress of grievances or the punishment of criminals by mobs and I am equally opposed to giving the "wronged" husbands and the "wronged" wives the right to kill the men and women they suspect. In other words, I believe in civilization. A few years ago a merchant living in the West suspected that his wife and bookkeeper were in love. One morning he started for a distant city, pretending that he would be absent for a couple of weeks. He came back that night and found the lovers occupying the same room. He did not kill the man, but said to him: "Take her; she is yours. Treat her well and you will not be troubled. Abuse or desert her and I will be her avenger." He did not kill his wife, but said: "We part forever. You are entitled to one-half of the property we have accumulated. You shall have it. Farewell!" The merchant was a civilized man a philosopher. END **** **** INSPIRATION. We are told that we have in our possession the inspired will of God. What is meant by the word "inspired" is not exactly known; but whatever else it may mean, certainly it means that the "inspired" must be the true. If it is true, there is in fact no need of its being inspired -- the truth will take care of itself. The church is forced to say that the Bible differs from all other books; it is forced to say that it contains the actual will of God. Let us then see what inspiration really is. A man looks at the sea, and the sea says something to him. It makes an impression upon his mind. It awakens memory, and this impression depends upon the man's experience -- upon his intellectual capacity. Another looks upon the same sea. He has a different brain; he has had a different experience. The sea may speak to him of joy; to the other of grief and tears. The sea cannot tell the same thing to any two human beings, because no two human beings have had the same experience. Another, standing upon the shore, listening to what the great Greek tragedian called "The multitudinous laughter of the sea," may say: Every drop has visited all the shores of the earth; every one has been frozen in the vast and icy North; every one has fallen in snow, has been whirled by storms around mountain peaks; every one has been kissed to vapor by the sun; every one has worn the seven- hued garment of light; every one has fallen in pleasant rain, gurgled from springs and laughed in brooks while lovers wooed upon the banks, and ever one has rushed with mighty rivers back to the Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 10 INSPIRATION. sea's embrace. Everything in Nature tells a different story to all eyes that see, and to all ears that hear. Once in my life, and once only, I heard Horace Greeley deliver a lecture. I think the title was "Across the Continent." At last he reached the mammoth trees of California, and I thought, "Here is an opportunity for the old man to indulge his fancy. Here are trees that have outlived a thousand human governments. There are limbs above his head older than the pyramids. While man was emerging from barbarism to something like civilization, these trees were growing. Older than history, every one appeared to be a memory, a witness, and a prophecy. The same wind that filled the sails of the Argonauts had swayed these trees." But these trees said nothing of this kind to Mr. Greeley. Upon these subjects not a word was told him. Instead, he took his pencil, and after figuring awhile, remarked: "One of these trees, sawed into inch boards, would make more than three hundred thousand feet of lumber." I was once riding in the cars in Illinois. There had been a violent thunder storm. The rain had ceased, the sun was going down. The great clouds had floated toward the west, and there they assumed most wonderful architectural shapes. There were temples and palaces domed and turreted, and they were touched with silver, with amethyst and gold. They looked Like the homes of the Titans, or the palaces of the gods. A man was sitting near me. I touched him and said, "Did you ever see anything so beautiful?" He looked out. He saw nothing of the cloud, nothing of the sun, nothing of the color; he saw only the country, and replied, "Yes, it is beautiful; I always did like rolling land." On another occasion I was riding in a stage. There had been a snow, and after the snow a sleet, and all the trees were bent, and all the boughs were arched. Every fence, every log cabin, had been transfigured, touched with a glory almost beyond this world. The great fields were a pure and perfect white; the forests, drooping beneath their load of gems, made wonderful caves, from which one almost expected to see troops of fairies come. The whole world looked like a bride, jeweled from head to foot. A German on the back seat, hearing our talk, and our exclamations of wonder, leaned forward, looked out of the stage window, and said, Y-a-a-s; it looks like a clean table cloth I" So, when we look upon a flower, a painting, a statue, a star, or a violet, the more we know, the more we have experienced, the more we have thought, the more we remember, -- the more the statue, the star, the painting, the violet, has to tell. Nature says to me all that I am capable of understanding, -- gives all that I can receive. As with star or flower or sea, so with a book. A man reads Shakespeare. What does be get from him? All that he has the mind to understand. He gets his little cup full. Let another read him who knows nothing of the drama, nothing of the impersonations of passion, and what does he get? Almost nothing. Shakespeare has a different story for each reader. He is a world in which each recognizes his acquaintances -- he may know a few -- he may know all. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 11 INSPIRATION. The impression that Nature makes upon the mind, the stories told by sea and star and flower, must be the natural food of thought. Leaving out for the moment the impression gained from ancestors, the hereditary fears and drifts and trends -- the natural food of thought must be the impression made upon the brain by coming in contact, through the medium of the five senses, with what we call the outward world. The brain is natural. Its food is natural. The result -- thought -- must be natural. The supernatural can be constructed with no material except the natural. Of the supernatural we can have no conception. "Thought" may be deformed, and the thought of one may be strange to, and denominated as unnatural by, another; but it cannot be supernatural. It may be weak, it may be insane, but it is not supernatural. Above the natural, man cannot rise. There can be deformed ideas, as there are deformed persons. There can be religious monstrosities and misshapen, but they must be naturally produced. Some people have ideas about what they are pleased to call the supernatural; what they call the supernatural is simply the deformed. The world is to each man according to each man. It takes the world as it really is, and that man to make that man's world, and that man's world cannot exist without that man. You may ask, and what of all this? I reply: As with everything in Nature, so with the Bible. It has a different story for each reader. Is then, the Bible a different book to every human being who reads it? It is. Can God, then, through the Bible, make the same revelation to two persons? He cannot. Why? Because the man who reads it is the man who inspires. Inspiration is in the man, as well as in the book. God should have "inspired" readers as well as writers. You may reply, God knew that his book would be understood differently by each one; really intended that it should be understood as it is understood by each. If this is so, then my understanding of the Bible is the real revelation to me. If this is so I have no right to take the understanding of another. I must take the revelation made to me through my understanding, and by That revelation I must stand. Suppose, then, that I do read this Bible honestly, carefully, and when I get through I am compelled to say, "The book is not true!" If this is the honest result, then you are compelled to say, either that God has made no revelation to me, or that the revelation that it is not true is the revelation made to me, and by which I am bound. If the book and my brain are both the work of the same infinite God, whose fault is it that the book and the brain do not agree? Either God should have written a book to fit my brain, or should have made my brain to fit his book. The inspiration of the Bible depends upon the ignorance of him who reads. The Truth Seeker Annual, Now York, 1885. END **** **** Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 12 THE JEWS. WHEN I was a child, I was taught that the Jews were an exceedingly hard-hearted and cruel people, and that they were so destitute of the finer feelings that they had a little while before that time crucified the only perfect man who had appeared upon the earth; that this perfect man was also perfect God, and that the Jews had really stained their hands with the blood of the Infinite. When I got somewhat older, I found that nearly all people had been guilty of substantially the same crime -- that is, that they had destroyed the progressive and the thoughtful; that religionists had in all ages been cruel; that the chief priests of all people had incited the mob, to the end that heretics -- that is to say, philosophers -- that is to say, men who knew that the chief priests were hypocrites -- might be destroyed. I also found that Christians had committed more of these crimes than all other religionists put together. I also became acquainted with a large number of Jewish people, and I found them like other people, except that, as a rule, they were more industrious, more temperate, had fewer vagrants among them, no beggars, very few criminals; and in addition to all this, I found that they were intelligent, kind to their wives and children, and that, as a rule, they kept their contracts and paid their debts. The prejudice was created almost entirely by religious, or rather irreligious, instruction. All children in Christian countries are taught that all the Jews are to be eternally damned who die in the faith of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that it is not enough to believe in the inspiration of the Old Testament -- not enough to obey the Ten Commandments -- not enough to believe the miracles performed in the days of the prophets, but that every Jew must accept the New Testament and must be a believer in Christianity -- that is to say, he must be regenerated -- or he will simply be eternal kindling wood. The church has taught, and still teaches, that every Jew is an outcast; that he is to-day busily fulfilling prophecy; that he is a wandering witness in favor of "the glad tidings of great joy;" that Jehovah is seeing to it that the Jews shall not exist as a nation -- that they shall have no abiding place, but that they shall remain scattered, to the end that the inspiration of the Bible may be substantiated. Dr. John Hall of this city, a few years ago, when the Jewish people were being persecuted in Russia, took the ground that it was all fulfillment of prophecy, and that whenever a Jewish maiden was stabbed to death, God put a tongue in every wound for the purpose of declaring the truth of the Old Testament. Just as long as Christians take these positions, of course they will do what they can to assist in the fulfillment of what they call prophecy, and they will do their utmost to keep the Jewish people in a state of exile, and then point to that fact as one of the corner-stones of Christianity. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 13 THE JEWS. My opinion is that in the early days of Christianity all sensible Jews were witnesses against the faith, and in this way excited the hostility of the orthodox. Every sensible Jew knew that no miracles had been performed in Jerusalem. They all knew that the sun had not been darkened, that the graves had not given up their dead, that the veil of the temple had not been rent in twain -- and they told what they knew. They were then denounced as the most infamous of human beings, and this hatred has pursued them from that day to this. There is no other chapter in history so infamous, so bloody, so cruel, so relentless, as the chapter in which is told the manner in which Christians -- those who love their enemies -- have treated the Jewish people. This story is enough to bring the blush of shame to the cheek, and the words of indignation to the lips of every honest man. Nothing can be more unjust than to generalize about nationalities, and to speak of a race as worthless or vicious, simply because you have met an individual who treated you unjustly. There are good people and bad people in all races, and the individual is not responsible for the crimes of the nation, or the nation responsible for the actions of the few. Good men and honest men are found in every faith, and they are not honest or dishonest because they are Jews or Gentiles, but for entirely different reasons. Some of the best people I have ever known are Jews, and some of the worst people I have known are Christians. The Christians were not bad simply because they were Christians, neither were the Jews good because they were Jews. A man is far above these badges of faith and race. Good Jews are precisely the same as good Christians, and bad Christians are wonderfully like bad Jews. Personally, I have either no prejudices about religion, or I have equal prejudice against all religions. The consequence is that I judge of people not by their creeds, not by their rites, not by their mummeries, but by their actions. In the first place, at the bottom of this prejudice lies the coiled serpent of superstition. In other words, it is a religious question. It seems impossible for the people of one religion to like the people believing in another religion. They have different gods, different heavens, and a great variety of hells. For the followers of one god to treat the followers of another god decently is a kind of treason. In order to be really true to his god, each follower must not only hate all other gods, but the followers of all other gods. The Jewish people should outgrow their own superstitions. It is time for them to throw away the idea of inspiration. The intelligent Jew of to-day knows that the Old Testament was written by barbarians, and he knows that the rites and ceremonies are simply absurd. He knows that no intelligent man should care anything about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, three dead barbarians. In other words, the Jewish people should leave their superstition and rely on science and philosophy. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 14 THE JEWS. The Christian should do the same. He, by this time, should know that his religion is a mistake, that his creed has no foundation in the eternal verities. The Christian certainly should give up the hopeless task of converting the Jewish people, and the Jews should give up the useless task of converting the Christians. There is no propriety in swapping superstitions -- neither party can afford to give any boot. When the Christian throws away his cruel and heartless superstitions, and when the Jew throws away his, then they can meet as man to man. In the meantime, the world will go on in its blundering way, and I shall know and feel that everybody does as he must, and that the Christian, to the extent that he is prejudiced, is prejudiced by reason of his ignorance, and that consequently the great lever with which to raise all mankind into the sunshine of philosophy, is intelligence. END **** **** OUR SCHOOLS. I BELIEVE that education is the only lever capable of raising mankind. If we wish to make the future of the Republic glorious we must educate the children of the present. The greatest blessing conferred by our Government is the free school. In importance it rises above everything else that the Government does. In its influence it is far greater. The schoolhouse is infinitely more important than the church, and if all the money wasted in the building of churches could be devoted to education we should become a civilized people. Of course, to the extent that churches disseminate thought they are good, and to the extent that they provoke discussion they are of value, but the real object should be to become acquainted with nature -- with the conditions of happiness -- to the end that man may take advantage of the forces of nature. I believe in the schools for manual training, and that every child should be taught not only to think, but to do, and that the hand should be educated with the brain. The money expended on schools is the best investment made by the Government. The schoolhouses in New York are not sufficient. Many of them are small, dark, unventilated, and unhealthy. They should be the finest public buildings in the city. It would be far better for the Episcopalians to build a university than a cathedral. Attached to all these schoolhouses there should be grounds for the children -- places for air and sun-light. They should be given the best. They are the hope of the Republic and, in my judgment, of the world. We need far more schoolhouses than we have, and while money is being wasted in a thousand directions, thousands of children are left to be educated in the gutter. It is far cheaper to build schoolhouses than prisons, and it is much better to have scholars than convicts. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 15 OUR SCHOOLS. The Kindergarten system should be adopted, especially for the young; attending school is then a pleasure -- the children do not run away from school, but to school. We should educate the children not simply in mind, but educate their eyes and hands, and they should be taught something that will be of use, that will help them to make a living, that will give them independence, confidence -- that is to say, character. The cost of the schools is very little, and the cost of land -- giving the children, as I said before, air and light -- would amount to nothing. There is another thing: Teachers are poorly paid. Only the best should be employed, and they should be well paid. Men and women of the highest character should have charge of the children, because there is a vast deal of education in association, and it is of the utmost importance that the children should associate with real gentlemen -- that is to say, with real men; with real ladies -- that is to say, with real women. Every schoolhouse should be inviting, clean, well ventilated, attractive. The surroundings should be delightful. Children forced to school, learn but little. The schoolhouse should not be a prison or the teachers turnkeys. I believe that the common school is the bread of life, and all should be commanded to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. It would have been far better to have expelled those who refused to eat. The greatest danger to the Republic is ignorance. Intelligence is the foundation of free government. -- The World, New York, September 7, 1890. END **** **** CONVENTION OF THE AMERICAN SECULAR UNION. Albany, N.Y., September 13, 1885. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: While I have never sought any place in any organization, and while I never intended to accept any place in any organization, yet as you have done me the honor to elect me president of the American Secular Union, I not only accept the place, but tender to you each and all my sincere thanks. This is a position that a man cannot obtain by repressing his honest thought. Nearly all other positions he obtains in that way. But I am glad that the time has come when men can afford to preserve their manhood in this country. Maybe they cannot be elected to the Legislature, cannot become errand boys in Congress, cannot be placed as weather-vanes in the presidential chair, but the time has come when a man can express his honest thought and be treated like a gentleman in the United States. We have arrived at Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 16 CONVENTION OF THE AMERICAN SECULAR UNION. a point where priests do not govern, and have reached that stage of our journey where we, as Harriet Martineau expressed it, are "free rovers on the breezy common of the universe." Day by day we are getting rid of the aristocracy of the air. We have been the slaves of phantoms long enough, and, a new day, a day of glory, has dawned upon this new world -- this new world which is far beyond the old in the real freedom of thought. In the selection of your officers, without referring to myself, I think you have shown great good sense. The first man chosen as vice-president, Mr. Charles Watts, is a gentleman of sound, logical mind; one who knows what he wants to say and how to say it; who is familiar with the organization of Secular societies, knows what we wish to accomplish and the means to attain it. I am glad that he is about to make this country his home, and I know of no man who, in my judgment, can do more for the cause of intellectual liberty. The next vice-president, Mr. Remsburg, has done splendid work all over the country. He is an absolutely fearless man, and tells really and truly what his mind produces. We need such men everywhere. You know it is almost a rule, or at any rate the practice, in political parties and in organizations generally, to be so anxious for success that all the offices and places of honor are given to those who will come in at the eleventh hour. The rule is to hold out these honors as bribes for new-comers instead of conferring them upon those who have borne the heat and burden of the day. I hope that the American Secular Union will not be guilty of any such injustice. Bestow your honors upon the men who stood by you when you had few friends, the men who enlisted for the war when the cause needed soldiers. Give your places to them, and if others want to join your ranks, welcome them heartily to the places of honor in the rear and let them learn how to keep step. In this particular, leaving out myself as I have said, you have done magnificently well. Mrs. Mattie Krekel, another vice- president, is a woman who has the courage to express her opinions, and she is all the more to be commended because, as you know, women have to suffer a little more punishment than men, being amenable to social laws that are more exacting and tyrannical than those passed by Legislatures. Of Mr, Wakeman it is not necessary to speak. You all know him to be an able, thoughtful, and experienced man, capable in every respect; one who has been in this organization from the beginning, and who is now president of the New York society. Elizur Wright, one of the patriarchs of Freethought, who was battling for liberty before I was born, and who will be found in the front rank until he ceases to be. You have honored yourselves by electing James Parton, a thoughtful man, a scholar, a philosopher, and a philanthropist -- honest, courageous, and logical -- with a mind as clear as a cloudless sky. Parker Pillsbury, who has always been on the side of liberty, always willing, if need be, to stand alone -- a man who has been mobbed many times because he had the goodness and courage to denounce the institution of slavery -- a man possessed of the Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 17 CONVENTION OF THE AMERICAN SECULAR UNION. true martyr spirit. Messrs. Algie and Adams, our friends from Canada, men of the highest character, worthy of our fullest confidence and esteem -- conscientious, upright, and faithful. And permit me to say that I know of no man of kinder heart, of gentler disposition, with more real, good human feeling toward all the world, with a more forgiving and tender spirit, than Horace Seaver. He and Mr. Mendum are the editors of the Investigator, the first Infidel paper I ever saw, and I guess the first that any one of you ever saw -- a paper once edited by Abner Kneeland, who was put in prison for saying, "The Universalists believe in a God which I do not." The court decided that he had denied the existence of a Supreme Being, and at that time it was not thought safe to allow a remark of that kind to be made, and so, for the purpose of keeping an infinite God from tumbling off his throne, Mr. Kneeland was put in jail. But Horace Seaver and Mr. Mendum went on with his work. They are pioneers in this cause, and they have been absolutely true to the principles of Freethought from the first day until now. If there is anybody belonging to our Secular Union more enthusiastic and better calculated to impart something of his enthusiasm to others than Samuel P. Putnam, our secretary, I do not know him. Courtlandt Palmer, your treasurer, you all know, and you will presently know him better when you hear the speech he is about to make, and that speech will speak better for him than I possibly can. Wait until you hear him, as he is now waiting for me to get through that you may hear him. He will give you the definition of the true gentleman, and that definition will be a truthful description of himself. Mr. Reynolds is on our side if anybody is or ever was, and Mr. Macdonald, editor of The Truth Seeker, aiming not only to seek the truth but to expose error, has done and is doing incalculable good in the cause of mental freedom. All these men and women are men and women of character, of high purpose; in favor of Freethought not as a peculiarity or as an eccentricity of the hour, but with all their hearts, through and through, to the very center and core of conviction, life, and purpose. And so I can congratulate you on your choice, and believe that you have entered upon the most prosperous year of your existence. I believe that you will do all you can to have every law repealed that puts a hypocrite above an honest man. We know that no man is thoroughly honest who does not tell his honest thought. We want the Sabbath day for ourselves and our families. Let the gods have the heavens. Give us the earth. If the gods want to stay at home Sundays and look solemn, let them do it; let us have a little wholesome recreation and pleasure. If the gods wish to go out with their wives and children, let them go. If they want to play billiards with the stars, so they don't carom on us, let them play. We want to do what we can to compel every church to pay taxes on its property as other people pay on theirs. Do you know that if church property is allowed to go without taxation, it is only a question of time when they will own a large per cent. of the Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 18 CONVENTION OF THE AMERICAN SECULAR UNION. property of the civilized world? It is the same as compound interest; only give it time. If you allow it to increase without taxing it for its protection, its growth can only be measured by the time in which it has to grow. The church builds an edifice in some small town, gets several acres of land. In time city rises around it. The labor of others has added to value of this property, until it is worth millions. If this property is not taxed, the churches will have so much in their hands that they will again become dangerous to the liberties of mankind. There never will, be real liberty in this country until all property is put upon a perfect equality. If you want to build a Joss House, pay taxes. If you want to build churches, pay taxes. If you want to build a hall or temple in which Freethought and science are to be taught, pay taxes. Let there be no property untaxed. When you fail to tax any species of property, you increase the tax of other people owning the rest. To that extent, you unite church and state. You compel the Infidel to support the Catholic. I do not want to support the Catholic Church. It is not worth supporting. It is an unadulterated evil. Neither do I want to reform the Catholic Church. The only reformation of which that church or any orthodox church is capable, is destruction. I want to spend no more money on superstition. Neither should our money be taken to support sectarian schools. We do not wish to employ any chaplains in the navy, or in the army, or in the Legislatures, or in Congress. It is useless to ask God to help the political party that happens to be in power. We want no President, no Governor "clothed with a little brief authority," to issue a proclamation as though he were an agent of God, authorized to tell all his loving subjects to fast on a certain day, or to enter their churches and pray for the accomplishment of a certain object. It is none of his business. When they called on Thomas Jefferson to issue a proclamation, he said he had no right to do it, that religion was a personal, individual matter, and that the state had no right, no power, to interfere. I now have the pleasure of introducing Mr. Courtlandt Palmer, who will speak to you on the "Aristocracy of Freethought," in my judgment the aristocracy not only of the present, but the aristocracy of the future. END **** **** SECULARISM. SEVERAL people have asked me the meaning of this term. Secularism is the religion of humanity; it embraces the affairs of this world; it is interested in everything that touches the welfare of a sentient being; it advocates attention to the particular planet in which we happen to live; it means that each individual counts for something; it is a declaration of intellectual independence; it means that the pew is superior to the pulpit, that those who bear the burdens shall have the profits and that they who fill the purse shall hold the strings. It is a protest against theological oppression, against ecclesiastical tyranny, against being the serf, subject or slave of any phantom, Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 19 SECULARISM. or of the priest of any phantom. It is a protest against wasting this life for the sake of one that we know not of. It proposes to let the gods take care of themselves. It is another name for common sense; that is to say, the adaptation of means to such ends as are desired and understood. Secularism believes in building a home here, in this world. It trusts to individual effort, to energy, to intelligence, to observation and experience rather than to the unknown and the supernatural. It desires to be happy on this side of the grave. Secularism means food and fireside, roof and raiment, reasonable work and reasonable leisure, the cultivation of the tastes, the acquisition of knowledge, the enjoyment of the arts, and it promises for the human race comfort, independence, intelligence, and above all liberty. It means the abolition of sectarian feuds, of theological hatreds. It means the cultivation of friendship and intellectual hospitality. It means the living for ourselves and each other; for the present instead of the past, for this world rather than for another. It means the right to express your thought in spite of popes, priests, and gods. It means that impudent idleness shall no longer live upon the labor of honest men. It means the destruction of the business of those who trade in fear. It proposes to give serenity and content to the human soul. It will put out the fires of eternal pain. It is striving to do away with violence and vice, with ignorance, poverty and disease. It lives for the ever present to-day, and the ever coming to- morrow. It does not believe in praying and receiving, but in earning and deserving. It regards work as worship, labor as prayer, and wisdom as the savior of mankind. It says to every human being, Take care of yourself so that you may be able to help others; adorn your life with the gems called good deeds; illumine your path with the sunlight called friendship and love. Secularism is a religion, a religion that is understood. It has no mysteries, no mumblings, no priests, no ceremonies, no falsehoods, no miracles, and no persecutions. It considers the lilies of the field, and takes thought for the morrow. It says to the whole world, Work that you may eat, drink, and be clothed; work that you may enjoy; work that you may not want; work that you may give and never need. The Independent Pulpit, Waco, Texas, 1887. **** **** Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship. The Free Market-Place of Ideas. The Bank of Wisdom is always looking for more of these old, hidden, suppressed and forgotten books that contain needed facts and information for today. If you have such books please contact us, we need to give them back to America. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 20


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