Footnotes that describe the subject or circumstances of the interview are placed immediately after its title, or where they occur in the narrative. Other footnotes are at the end of the interview.
The digraph "ae" has been spelled out for clarity. "Employe", used throughout with no accent, has been replaced by "employee". "Buechner" appeared with the umlaut in the original.
Typographical and grammatical errors and misspellings have been corrected, but 19th-century variants have been retained. Question marks have been added where required.
LoC call number: BL2720.A2
[Frontispiece: v8.jpg] "With daughters' babes upon his knees, the white hair mingling with the gold." EVA INGERSOLL-BROWN ROBERT G. INGERSOLL BROWN.
THE WORKS OF Robert G. Ingersoll
"HAPPINESS IS THE ONLY GOOD, REASON THE ONLY TORCH, JUSTICE THE ONLY WORSHIP, HUMANITY THE ONLY RELIGION, AND LOVE THE ONLY PRIEST."
IN TWELVE VOLUMES VOLUME VIII.
NEW YORK THE DRESDEN PUBLISHING CO., C. P. FARRELL MCMXV
COPYRIGHT, 1900 BY C. P. FARRELL
COPYRIGHT, 1901 BY THE DRESDEN PUBLISHING CO.
CONTENTS OF VOLUME VIII. INTERVIEWS.
THE BIBLE AND A FUTURE LIFE, Washington Post
MRS. VAN COTT, THE REVIVALIST, Buffalo Express
EUROPEAN TRIP AND GREENBACK QUESTION, Washington Post
THE PRE-MILLENNIAL CONFERENCE, Buffalo Express
THE SOLID SOUTH AND RESUMPTION, Cincinnati Commercial
SUNDAY LAWS OF PITTSBURG, Pittsburg Leader
POLITICAL AND RELIGIOUS, Chicago Times
POLITICS AND GEN. GRANT, Indianapolis Journal
POLITICS, RELIGION AND THOMAS PAINE, Chicago Times
REPLY TO CHICAGO CRITICS, Chicago Tribune
THE REPUBLICAN VICTORY, New York Herald
INGERSOLL AND BEECHER, New York Herald
POLITICAL, Washington Post
RELIGION IN POLITICS, New York Evening Express
MIRACLES AND IMMORTALITY, Pittsburg Dispatch
THE POLITICAL OUTLOOK, Cincinnati Commercial
MR. BEECHER, MOSES AND THE NEGRO, Brooklyn Eagle
HADES, DELAWARE AND FREETHOUGHT, Brooklyn Eagle
A REPLY TO THE REV. MR. LANSING, New Haven Sunday Union
BEACONSFIELD, LENT AND REVIVALS, Brooklyn Eagle
ANSWERING THE NEW YORK MINISTERS, Chicago Times
GUITEAU AND HIS CRIME, Washington Sunday Gazette
DISTRICT SUFFRAGE, Washington Capital
FUNERAL OF JOHN G. MILLS AND IMMORTALITY, Washington Post
STAR ROUTE AND POLITICS, New York Herald
THE INTERVIEWER, New York Morning Journal
POLITICS AND PROHIBITION, Chicago Times
THE REPUBLICAN DEFEAT IN OHIO, Dayton Democrat
THE CIVIL RIGHTS BILL, Washington National Republican
JUSTICE HARLAN AND THE CIVIL RIGHTS BILL, Chicago Inter-Ocean
POLITICS AND THEOLOGY, Denver Tribune
MORALITY AND IMMORTALITY, Detroit News
POLITICS, MORMONISM AND MR. BEECHER, Denver News
FREE TRADE AND CHRISTIANITY, Denver Republican
THE OATH QUESTION, London Secular Review
WENDELL PHILLIPS, FITZ JOHN PORTER AND BISMARCK, Chicago Times
GENERAL SUBJECTS, Kansas City Times
REPLY TO KANSAS CITY CLERGY, Kansas City Journal
SWEARING AND AFFIRMING, Buffalo Courier
REPLY TO A BUFFALO CRITIC, Buffalo Times
BLASPHEMY, Philadelphia Press
POLITICS AND BRITISH COLUMBIA, San Francisco Evening Post
INGERSOLL CATECHISED, San Francisco San Franciscan
BLAINE'S DEFEAT, Topeka Commonwealth
BLAINE'S DEFEAT, Louisville Commercial
PLAGIARISM AND POLITICS, Cleveland Plain Dealer
RELIGIOUS PREJUDICE, New York Mail and Express
CLEVELAND AND HIS CABINET, New York Mail and Express
RELIGION, PROHIBITION AND GEN. GRANT, Iowa State Register
HELL OR SHEOL AND OTHER SUBJECTS, Boston Evening Record
INTERVIEWING, POLITICS AND SPIRITUALISM, Cleveland Plain Dealer
MY BELIEF, Philadelphia Times
SOME LIVE TOPICS, New York Truth Seeker
THE PRESIDENT AND THE SENATE, Chicago Inter-Ocean
ATHEISM AND CITIZENSHIP, New York Herald
THE LABOR QUESTION, Cincinnati Enquirer
RAILROADS AND POLITICS, Cincinnati Times Star
PROHIBITION, Boston Evening Traveler
HENRY GEORGE AND LABOR, New York Herald
LABOR QUESTION AND SOCIALISM, New York World
HENRY GEORGE AND SOCIALISM, Chicago Times
REPLY TO THE REV. B. F. MORSE, New York Herald
INGERSOLL ON McGLYNN, Brooklyn Citizen
TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO ANARCHISTS, New York Mail and Express
THE STAGE AND THE PULPIT, New York Truth Seeker
ROSCOE CONKLING, New York Herald
THE CHURCH AND THE STATE, New York Dramatic Mirror
PROTECTION—FREE TRADE, New York Press
LABOR AND TARIFF REFORM, New York Press
CLEVELAND AND THURMAN, New York Press
THE REPUBLICAN PLATFORM OF 1888, New York Press
JAMES G. BLAINE AND POLITICS, New York Press
THE MILLS BILL, New York Press
SOCIETY AND ITS CRIMINALS, New York World
WOMAN'S RIGHT TO DIVORCE, New York World
SECULARISM, Toronto Secular Thought
SUMMER RECREATION—MR. GLADSTONE, Unpublished
PROHIBITION, New York World
ROBERT ELSMERE, New York World
WORKING GIRLS, New York World
PROTECTION FOR AMERICAN ACTORS, New York Star
LIBERALS AND LIBERALISM, Toronto Secular Thought
POPE LEO XIII., New York Herald
THE SACREDNESS OF THE SABBATH, New York Journal
THE WEST AND SOUTH, Indianapolis Journal
THE WESTMINSTER CREED AND OTHER SUBJECTS, Rochester Post-Express
SHAKESPEARE AND BACON, Minneapolis Tribune
GROWING OLD GRACEFULLY, AND PRESBYTERIANISM, Toledo Blade
CREEDS, New York Morning Advertiser
THE TENDENCY OF MODERN THOUGHT, Chicago Tribune
WOMAN SUFFRAGE, HORSE RACING, AND MONEY, Chicago Inter-Ocean
MISSIONARIES, Cleveland Press
MY BELIEF AND UNBELIEF, Toledo Blade
MUST RELIGION GO? New York Evening Advertiser
WORD PAINTING AND COLLEGE EDUCATION, Indianapolis News
PERSONAL MAGNETISM AND THE SUNDAY QUESTION, Cincinnati Commercial Gazette
AUTHORS, Kansas City Star
MIRACLES, THEOSOPHY AND SPIRITUALISM, Unpublished
TOLSTOY AND LITERATURE, Buffalo Evening Express
WOMAN IN POLITICS, New York Advertiser
SPIRITUALISM, St. Louis Globe-Democrat
PLAYS AND PLAYERS, New York Dramatic Mirror
WOMAN, A Fragment
STRIKES, EXPANSION AND OTHER SUBJECTS, New York, May 5, 1893
SUNDAY A DAY OF PLEASURE, New York Times
THE PARLIAMENT OF RELIGIONS, New York Herald
CLEVELAND'S HAWAIIAN POLICY, Chicago Inter-Ocean
ORATORS AND ORATORY, London Sketch
CATHOLICISM AND PROTESTANTISM.—THE POPE.—THE A. P. A., AGNOSTICISM AND THE CHURCH, New York Herald
WOMAN AND HER DOMAIN, Grand Rapids Democrat
PROFESSOR SWING, Chicago Inter-Ocean
SENATOR SHERMAN AND HIS BOOK, St. Louis Globe-Democrat
REPLY TO THE CHRISTIAN ENDEAVORERS, New York Journal
SPIRITUALISM, New York Journal
A LITTLE OF EVERYTHING, Rochester Herald
IS LIFE WORTH LIVING?—CHRISTIAN SCIENCE AND POLITICS, Chicago Inter-Ocean
VIVISECTION, New York Evening Telegram
DIVORCE, New York Herald
MUSIC, NEWSPAPERS, LYNCHING AND ARBITRATION, Chicago Inter-Ocean
A VISIT TO SHAW'S GARDEN, St. Louis Republic
THE VENEZUELA BOUNDARY DISCUSSION AND THE WHIPPING POST, New York Journal
COLONEL SHEPARD'S STAGE HORSES, New York Morning Advertiser
A REPLY TO THE REV. L. A. BANKS, Cleveland Plain Dealer
CUBA—ZOLA AND THEOSOPHY, Louisville Courier-Journal
HOW TO BECOME AN ORATOR, New York Sun
JOHN RUSSELL YOUNG AND EXPANSION, Philadelphia Press
PSYCHICAL RESEARCH AND THE BIBLE, New York Mind
THIS CENTURY'S GLORIES, New York Sun
CAPITAL PUNISHMENT AND THE WHIPPING POST, Chicago Tribune
EXPANSION AND TRUSTS, Philadelphia North American
THE BIBLE AND A FUTURE LIFE
Question. Colonel, are your views of religion based upon the Bible?
Answer. I regard the Bible, especially the Old Testament, the same as I do most other ancient books, in which there is some truth, a great deal of error, considerable barbarism and a most plentiful lack of good sense.
Question. Have you found any other work, sacred or profane, which you regard as more reliable?
Answer. I know of no book less so, in my judgment.
Question. You have studied the Bible attentively, have you not?
Answer. I have read the Bible. I have heard it talked about a good deal, and am sufficiently well acquainted with it to justify my own mind in utterly rejecting all claims made for its divine origin.
Question. What do you base your views upon?
Answer. On reason, observation, experience, upon the discoveries in science, upon observed facts and the analogies properly growing out of such facts. I have no confidence in anything pretending to be outside, or independent of, or in any manner above nature.
Question. According to your views, what disposition is made of man after death?
Answer. Upon that subject I know nothing. It is no more wonderful that man should live again than he now lives; upon that question I know of no evidence. The doctrine of immortality rests upon human affection. We love, therefore we wish to live.
Question. Then you would not undertake to say what becomes of man after death?
Answer. If I told or pretended to know what becomes of man after death, I would be as dogmatic as are theologians upon this question. The difference between them and me is, I am honest. I admit that I do not know.
Question. Judging by your criticism of mankind, Colonel, in your recent lecture, you have not found his condition very satisfactory?
Answer. Nature, outside of man, so far as I know, is neither cruel nor merciful. I am not satisfied with the present condition of the human race, nor with the condition of man during any period of which we have any knowledge. I believe, however, the condition of man is improved, and this improvement is due to his own exertions. I do not make nature a being. I do not ascribe to nature intentions.
Question. Is your theory, Colonel, the result of investigation of the subject?
Answer. No one can control his own opinion or his own belief. My belief was forced upon me by my surroundings. I am the product of all circumstances that have in any way touched me. I believe in this world. I have no confidence in any religion promising joys in another world at the expense of liberty and happiness in this. At the same time, I wish to give others all the rights I claim for myself.
Question. If I asked for proofs for your theory, what would you furnish?
Answer. The experience of every man who is honest with himself, every fact that has been discovered in nature. In addition to these, the utter and total failure of all religionists in all countries to produce one particle of evidence showing the existence of any supernatural power whatever, and the further fact that the people are not satisfied with their religion. They are continually asking for evidence. They are asking it in every imaginable way. The sects are continually dividing. There is no real religious serenity in the world. All religions are opponents of intellectual liberty. I believe in absolute mental freedom. Real religion with me is a thing not of the head, but of the heart; not a theory, not a creed, but a life.
Question. What punishment, then, is inflicted upon man for his crimes and wrongs committed in this life?
Answer. There is no such thing as intellectual crime. No man can commit a mental crime. To become a crime it must go beyond thought.
Question. What punishment is there for physical crime?
Answer. Such punishment as is necessary to protect society and for the reformation of the criminal.
Question. If there is only punishment in this world, will not some escape punishment?
Answer. I admit that all do not seem to be punished as they deserve. I also admit that all do not seem to be rewarded as they deserve; and there is in this world, apparently, as great failures in matter of reward as in matter of punishment. If there is another life, a man will be happier there for acting according to his highest ideal in this. But I do not discern in nature any effort to do justice.
—The Post, Washington, D. C., 1878.
MRS. VAN COTT, THE REVIVALIST
Question. I see, Colonel, that in an interview published this morning, Mrs. Van Cott (the revivalist), calls you "a poor barking dog." Do you know her personally?
Answer. I have never met or seen her.
Question. Do you know the reason she applied the epithet?
Answer. I suppose it to be the natural result of what is called vital piety; that is to say, universal love breeds individual hatred.
Question. Do you intend making any reply to what she says?
Answer. I have written her a note of which this is a copy:
Buffalo, Feb. 24th, 1878. MRS. VAN COTT;
My dear Madam:—Were you constrained by the love of Christ to call a man who has never injured you "a poor barking dog?" Did you make this remark as a Christian, or as a lady? Did you say these words to illustrate in some faint degree the refining influence upon women of the religion you preach?
What would you think of me if I should retort, using your language, changing only the sex of the last word?
I have the honor to remain,
R. G. INGERSOLL
Question. Well, what do you think of the religious revival system generally?
Answer. The fire that has to be blown all the time is a poor thing to get warm by. I regard these revivals as essentially barbaric. I think they do no good, but much harm, they make innocent people think they are guilty, and very mean people think they are good.
Question. What is your opinion concerning women as conductors of these revivals?
Answer. I suppose those engaged in them think they are doing good. They are probably honest. I think, however, that neither men nor women should be engaged in frightening people into heaven. That is all I wish to say on the subject, as I do not think it worth talking about.
—The Express, Buffalo, New York, Feb., 1878.
EUROPEAN TRIP AND GREENBACK QUESTION
Question. What did you do on your European trip, Colonel?
Answer. I went with my family from New York to Southampton, England, thence to London, and from London to Edinburgh. In Scotland I visited every place where Burns had lived, from the cottage where he was born to the room where he died. I followed him from the cradle to the coffin. I went to Stratford-upon-Avon for the purpose of seeing all that I could in any way connected with Shakespeare; next to London, where we visited again all the places of interest, and thence to Paris, where we spent a couple of weeks in the Exposition.
Question. And what did you think of it?
Answer. So far as machinery—so far as the practical is concerned, it is not equal to ours in Philadelphia; in art it is incomparably beyond it. I was very much gratified to find so much evidence in favor of my theory that the golden age in art is in front of us; that mankind has been advancing, that we did not come from a perfect pair and immediately commence to degenerate. The modern painters and sculptors are far better and grander than the ancient. I think we excel in fine arts as much as we do in agricultural implements. Nothing pleased me more than the painting from Holland, because they idealized and rendered holy the ordinary avocations of life. They paint cottages with sweet mothers and children; they paint homes. They are not much on Ariadnes and Venuses, but they paint good women.
Question. What did you think of the American display?
Answer. Our part of the Exposition is good, but nothing to what is should and might have been, but we bring home nearly as many medals as we took things. We lead the world in machinery and in ingenious inventions, and some of our paintings were excellent.
Question. Colonel, crossing the Atlantic back to America, what do you think of the Greenback movement?
Answer. In regard to the Greenback party, in the first place, I am not a believer in miracles. I do not believe that something can be made out of nothing. The Government, in my judgment, cannot create money; the Government can give its note, like an individual, and the prospect of its being paid determines its value. We have already substantially resumed. Every piece of property that has been shrinking has simply been resuming. We expended during the war—not for the useful, but for the useless, not to build up, but to destroy—at least one thousand million dollars. The Government was an enormous purchaser; when the war ceased the industries of the country lost their greatest customer. As a consequence there was a surplus of production, and consequently a surplus of labor. At last we have gotten back, and the country since the war has produced over and above the cost of production, something near the amount that was lost during the war. Our exports are about two hundred million dollars more than our imports, and this is a healthy sign. There are, however, five or six hundred thousand men, probably, out of employment; as prosperity increases this number will decrease. I am in favor of the Government doing something to ameliorate the condition of these men. I would like to see constructed the Northern and Southern Pacific railroads; this would give employment at once to many thousands, and homes after awhile to millions. All the signs of the times to me are good. The wretched bankrupt law, at last, is wiped from the statute books, and honest people in a short time can get plenty of credit. This law should have been repealed years before it was. It would have been far better to have had all who have gone into bankruptcy during these frightful years to have done so at once.
Question. What will be the political effect of the Greenback movement?
Answer. The effect in Maine has been to defeat the Republican party. I do not believe any party can permanently succeed in the United States that does not believe in and advocate actual money. I want to see the greenback equal with gold the world round. A money below par keeps the people below par. No man can possibly be proud of a country that is not willing to pay its debts. Several of the States this fall may be carried by the Greenback party, but if I have a correct understanding of their views, that party cannot hold any State for any great length of time. But all the men of wealth should remember that everybody in the community has got, in some way, to be supported. I want to see them so that they can support themselves by their own labor. In my judgment real prosperity will begin with actual resumption, because confidence will then return. If the workingmen of the United States cannot make their living, cannot have the opportunity to labor, they have got to be supported in some way, and in any event, I want to see a liberal policy inaugurated by the Government. I believe in improving rivers and harbors.
I do not believe the trans-continental commerce of this country should depend on one railroad. I want new territories opened. I want to see American steamships running to all the great ports of the world. I want to see our flag flying on all the seas and in all the harbors. We have the best country, and, in my judgment, the best people in the world, and we ought to be the most prosperous nation on the earth.
Question. Then you only consider the Greenback movement a temporary thing?
Answer. Yes; I do not believe that there is anything permanent in anything that is not sound, that has not a perfectly sound foundation, and I mean sound, sound in every sense of that word. It must be wise and honest. We have plenty of money; the trouble is to get it. If the Greenbackers will pass a law furnishing all of us with collaterals, there certainly would be no trouble about getting the money. Nothing can demonstrate more fully the plentifulness of money than the fact that millions of four per cent. bonds have been taken in the United States. The trouble is, business is scarce.
Question. But do you not think the Greenback movement will help the Democracy to success in 1880?
Answer. I think the Greenback movement will injure the Republican party much more than the Democratic party. Whether that injury will reach as far as 1880 depends simply upon one thing. If resumption—in spite of all the resolutions to the contrary— inaugurates an era of prosperity, as I believe and hope it will, then it seems to me that the Republican party will be as strong in the North as in its palmiest days. Of course I regard most of the old issues as settled, and I make this statement simply because I regard the financial issue as the only living one.
Of course, I have no idea who will be the Democratic candidate, but I suppose the South will be solid for the Democratic nominee, unless the financial question divides that section of the country.
Question. With a solid South do you not think the Democratic nominee will stand a good chance?
Answer. Certainly, he will stand the best chance if the Democracy is right on the financial question; if it will cling to its old idea of hard money, he will. If the Democrats will recognize that the issues of the war are settled, then I think that party has the best chance.
Question. But if it clings to soft money?
Answer. Then I think it will be beaten, if by soft money it means the payment of one promise with another.
Question. You consider Greenbackers inflationists, do you not?
Answer. I suppose the Greenbackers to be the party of inflation. I am in favor of inflation produced by industry. I am in favor of the country being inflated with corn, with wheat, good houses, books, pictures, and plenty of labor for everybody. I am in favor of being inflated with gold and silver, but I do not believe in the inflation of promise, expectation and speculation. I sympathize with every man who is willing to work and cannot get it, and I sympathize to that degree that I would like to see the fortunate and prosperous taxed to support his unfortunate brother until labor could be found.
The Greenback party seems to think credit is just as good as gold. While the credit lasts this is so; but the trouble is, whenever it is ascertained that the gold is gone or cannot be produced the credit takes wings. The bill of a perfectly solvent bank may circulate for years. Now, because nobody demands the gold on that bill it doesn't follow that the bill would be just as good without any gold behind it. The idea that you can have the gold whenever you present the bill gives it its value. To illustrate: A poor man buys soup tickets. He is not hungry at the time of purchase, and will not be for some hours. During those hours the Greenback gentlemen argue that there is no use of keeping any soup on hand with which to redeem these tickets, and from this they further argue that if they can be good for a few hours without soup, why not forever? And they would be, only the holder gets hungry. Until he is hungry, of course, he does not care whether any soup is on hand or not, but when he presents his ticket he wants his soup, and the idea that he can have the soup when he does present the ticket gives it its value. And so I regard bank notes, without gold and silver, as of the same value as tickets without soup.
—The Post, Washington, D. C., 1878.
THE PRE-MILLENNIAL CONFERENCE.
Question. What do you think of the Pre-Millennial Conference that was held in New York City recently?
Answer. Well, I think that all who attended it were believers in the Bible, and any one who believes in prophecies and looks to their fulfillment will go insane. A man that tries from Daniel's ram with three horns and five tails and his deformed goats to ascertain the date of the second immigration of Christ to this world is already insane. It all shows that the moment we leave the realm of fact and law we are adrift on the wide and shoreless sea of theological speculation.
Question. Do you think there will be a second coming?
Answer. No, not as long as the church is in power. Christ will never again visit this earth until the Freethinkers have control. He will certainly never allow another church to get hold of him. The very persons who met in New York to fix the date of his coming would despise him and the feeling would probably be mutual. In his day Christ was an Infidel, and made himself unpopular by denouncing the church as it then existed. He called them liars, hypocrites, thieves, vipers, whited sepulchres and fools. From the description given of the church in that day, I am afraid that should he come again, he would be provoked into using similar language. Of course, I admit there are many good people in the church, just as there were some good Pharisees who were opposed to the crucifixion.
—The Express, Buffalo, New York, Nov. 4th, 1878.
THE SOLID SOUTH AND RESUMPTION.
Question. Colonel, to start with, what do you think of the solid South?
Answer. I think the South is naturally opposed to the Republican party; more, I imagine, to the name, than to the personnel of the organization. But the South has just as good friends in the Republican party as in the Democratic party. I do not think there are any Republicans who would not rejoice to see the South prosperous and happy. I know of none, at least. They will have to get over the prejudices born of isolation. We lack direct and constant communication. I do not recollect having seen a newspaper from the Gulf States for a long time. They, down there, may imagine that the feeling in the North is the same as during the war. But it certainly is not. The Northern people are anxious to be friendly; and if they can be, without a violation of their principles, they will be. Whether it be true or not, however, most of the Republicans of the North believe that no Republican in the South is heartily welcome in that section, whether he goes there from the North, or is a Southern man. Personally, I do not care anything about partisan politics. I want to see every man in the United States guaranteed the right to express his choice at the ballot-box, and I do not want social ostracism to follow a man, no matter how he may vote. A solid South means a solid North. A hundred thousand Democratic majority in South Carolina means fifty thousand Republican majority in New York in 1880. I hope the sections will never divide, simply as sections. But if the Republican party is not allowed to live in the South, the Democratic party certainly will not be allowed to succeed in the North. I want to treat the people of the South precisely as though the Rebellion had never occurred. I want all that wiped from the slate of memory, and all I ask of the Southern people is to give the same rights to the Republicans that we are willing to give to them and have given to them.
Question. How do you account for the results of the recent elections?
Answer. The Republican party won the recent election simply because it was for honest money, and it was in favor of resumption. And if on the first of January next, we resume all right, and maintain resumption, I see no reason why the Republican party should not succeed in 1880. The Republican party came into power at the commencement of the Rebellion, and necessarily retained power until its close; and in my judgment, it will retain power so long as in the horizon of credit there is a cloud of repudiation as large as a man's hand.
Question. Do you think resumption will work out all right?
Answer. I do. I think that on the first of January the greenback will shake hands with gold on an equality, and in a few days thereafter will be worth just a little bit more. Everything has resumed, except the Government. All the property has resumed, all the lands, bonds and mortgages and stocks. All these things resumed long ago—that is to say, they have touched the bottom. Now, there is no doubt that the party that insists on the Government paying all its debts will hold control, and no one will get his hand on the wheel who advocates repudiation in any form. There is one thing we must do, though. We have got to put more silver in our dollars. I do not think you can blame the New York banks—any bank —for refusing to take eighty-eight cents for a dollar. Neither can you blame any depositor who puts gold in the bank for demanding gold in return. Yes, we must have in the silver dollar a dollar's worth of silver.
—The Commercial, Cincinnati, Ohio, November, 1878.
THE SUNDAY LAWS OF PITTSBURG.*
Question. Colonel, what do you think of the course the Mayor has pursued toward you in attempting to stop your lecture?
Answer. I know very little except what I have seen in the morning paper. As a general rule, laws should be enforced or repealed; and so far as I am personally concerned, I shall not so much complain of the enforcing of the law against Sabbath breaking as of the fact that such a law exists. We have fallen heir to these laws. They were passed by superstition, and the enlightened people of to-day should repeal them. Ministers should not expect to fill their churches by shutting up other places. They can only increase their congregations by improving their sermons. They will have more hearers when they say more worth hearing. I have no idea that the Mayor has any prejudice against me personally and if he only enforces the law, I shall have none against him. If my lectures were free the ministers might have the right to object, but as I charge one dollar admission and they nothing, they ought certainly be able to compete with me.
Question. Don't you think it is the duty of the Mayor, as chief executive of the city laws, to enforce the ordinances and pay no attention to what the statutes say?
Answer. I suppose it to be the duty of the Mayor to enforce the ordinance of the city and if the ordinance of the city covers the same ground as the law of the State, a conviction under the ordinance would be a bar to prosecution under the State law.
Question. If the ordinance exempts scientific, literary and historical lectures, as it is said it does, will not that exempt you?
Answer. Yes, all my lectures are historical; that is, I speak of many things that have happened. They are scientific because they are filled with facts, and they are literary of course. I can conceive of no address that is neither historical nor scientific, except sermons. They fail to be historical because they treat of things that never happened and they are certainly not scientific, as they contain no facts.
Question. Suppose they arrest you what will you do?
Answer. I will examine the law and if convicted will pay the fine, unless I think I can reverse the case by appeal. Of course I would like to see all these foolish laws wiped from the statute books. I want the law so that everybody can do just as he pleases on Sunday, provided he does not interfere with the rights of others. I want the Christian, the Jew, the Deist and the Atheist to be exactly equal before the law. I would fight for the right of the Christian to worship God in his own way just as quick as I would for the Atheist to enjoy music, flowers and fields. I hope to see the time when even the poor people can hear the music of the finest operas on Sunday. One grand opera with all its thrilling tones, will do more good in touching and elevating the world than ten thousand sermons on the agonies of hell.
Question. Have you ever been interfered with before in delivering Sunday lectures?
Answer. No, I postponed a lecture in Baltimore at the request of the owners of a theatre because they were afraid some action might be taken. That is the only case. I have delivered lectures on Sunday in the principal cities of the United States, in New York, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, San Francisco, Cincinnati and many other places. I lectured here last winter; it was on Sunday and I heard nothing of its being contrary to law. I always supposed my lectures were good enough to be delivered on the most sacred days.
—The Leader, Pittsburg, Pa., October 27, 1879.
[* The manager of the theatre, where Col. Ingersoll lectured, was fined fifty dollars which Col. Ingersoll paid.]
POLITICAL AND RELIGIOUS.
Question. What do you think about the recent election, and what will be its effect upon political matters and the issues and candidates of 1880?
Answer. I think the Republicans have met with this almost universal success on account, first, of the position taken by the Democracy on the currency question; that is to say, that party was divided, and was willing to go in partnership with anybody, whatever their doctrines might be, for the sake of success in that particular locality. The Republican party felt it of paramount importance not only to pay the debt, but to pay it in that which the world regards as money. The next reason for the victory is the position assumed by the Democracy in Congress during the called session. The threats they then made of what they would do in the event that the executive did not comply with their demands, showed that the spirit of the party had not been chastened to any considerable extent by the late war. The people of this country will not, in my judgment, allow the South to take charge of this country until they show their ability to protect the rights of citizens in their respective States.
Question. Then, as you regard the victories, they are largely due to a firm adherence to principle, and the failure of the Democratic party is due to their abandonment of principle, and their desire to unite with anybody and everything, at the sacrifice of principle, to attain success?
Answer. Yes. The Democratic party is a general desire for office without organization. Most people are Democrats because they hate something, most people are Republicans because they love something.
Question. Do you think the election has brought about any particular change in the issues that will be involved in the campaign of 1880?
Answer. I think the only issue is who shall rule the country.
Question. Do you think, then, the question of State Rights, hard or soft money and other questions that have been prominent in the campaign are practically settled, and so regarded by the people?
Answer. I think the money question is, absolutely. I think the question of State Rights is dead, except that it can still be used to defeat the Democracy. It is what might be called a convenient political corpse.
Question. Now, to leave the political field and go to the religious at one jump—since your last visit here much has been said and written and published to the effect that a great change, or a considerable change at least, had taken place in your religious, or irreligious views. I would like to know if that is so?
Answer. The only change that has occurred in my religious views is the result of finding more and more arguments in favor of my position, and, as a consequence, if there is any difference, I am stronger in my convictions than ever before.
Question. I would like to know something of the history of your religious views?
Answer. I may say right here that the Christian idea that any God can make me his friend by killing mine is about a great mistake as could be made. They seem to have the idea that just as soon as God kills all the people that a person loves, he will then begin to love the Lord. What drew my attention first to these questions was the doctrine of eternal punishment. This was so abhorrent to my mind that I began to hate the book in which it was taught. Then, in reading law, going back to find the origin of laws, I found one had to go but a little way before the legislator and priest united. This led me to a study of a good many of the religions of the world. At first I was greatly astonished to find most of them better than ours. I then studied our own system to the best of my ability, and found that people were palming off upon children and upon one another as the inspired word of God a book that upheld slavery, polygamy and almost every other crime. Whether I am right or wrong, I became convinced that the Bible is not an inspired book; and then the only question for me to settle was as to whether I should say what I believed or not. This really was not the question in my mind, because, before even thinking of such a question, I expressed my belief, and I simply claim that right and expect to exercise it as long as I live. I may be damned for it in the next world, but it is a great source of pleasure to me in this.
Question. It is reported that you are the son of a Presbyterian minister?
Answer. Yes, I am the son of a New School Presbyterian minister.
Question. About what age were you when you began this investigation which led to your present convictions?
Answer. I cannot remember when I believed the Bible doctrine of eternal punishment. I have a dim recollection of hating Jehovah when I was exceedingly small.
Question. Then your present convictions began to form themselves while you were listening to the teachings of religion as taught by your father?
Answer. Yes, they did.
Question. Did you discuss the matter with him?
Answer. I did for many years, and before he died he utterly gave up the idea that this life is a period of probation. He utterly gave up the idea of eternal punishment, and before he died he had the happiness of believing that God was almost as good and generous as he was himself.
Question. I suppose this gossip about a change in your religious views arose or was created by the expression used at your brother's funeral, "In the night of death hope sees a star and listening love can hear the rustle of a wing"?
Answer. I never willingly will destroy a solitary human hope. I have always said that I did not know whether man was or was not immortal, but years before my brother died, in a lecture entitled "The Ghosts," which has since been published, I used the following words: "The idea of immortality, that like a sea has ebbed and flowed in the human heart, with its countless waves of hope and fear, beating against the shores and rocks of time and fate, was not born of any book, nor of any creed, nor of any religion. It was born of human affection, and it will continue to ebb and flow beneath the mists and clouds of doubt and darkness as long as love kisses the lips of death. It is the rainbow—Hope, shining upon the tears of grief."
Question. The great objection to your teaching urged by your enemies is that you constantly tear down, and never build up?
Answer. I have just published a little book entitled, "Some Mistakes of Moses," in which I have endeavored to give most of the arguments I have urged against the Pentateuch in a lecture I delivered under that title. The motto on the title page is, "A destroyer of weeds, thistles and thorns is a benefactor, whether he soweth grain or not." I cannot for my life see why one should be charged with tearing down and not rebuilding simply because he exposes a sham, or detects a lie. I do not feel under any obligation to build something in the place of a detected falsehood. All I think I am under obligation to put in the place of a detected lie is the detection. Most religionists talk as if mistakes were valuable things and they did not wish to part with them without a consideration. Just how much they regard lies worth a dozen I do not know. If the price is reasonable I am perfectly willing to give it, rather than to see them live and give their lives to the defence of delusions. I am firmly convinced that to be happy here will not in the least detract from our happiness in another world should we be so fortunate as to reach another world; and I cannot see the value of any philosophy that reaches beyond the intelligent happiness of the present. There may be a God who will make us happy in another world. If he does, it will be more than he has accomplished in this. I suppose that he will never have more than infinite power and never have less than infinite wisdom, and why people should expect that he should do better in another world than he has in this is something that I have never been able to explain. A being who has the power to prevent it and yet who allows thousands and millions of his children to starve; who devours them with earthquakes; who allows whole nations to be enslaved, cannot in my judgment be implicitly be depended upon to do justice in another world.
Question. How do the clergy generally treat you?
Answer. Well, of course there are the same distinctions among clergymen as among other people. Some of them are quite respectable gentlemen, especially those with whom I am not acquainted. I think that since the loss of my brother nothing could exceed the heartlessness of the remarks made by the average clergyman. There have been some noble exceptions, to whom I feel not only thankful but grateful; but a very large majority have taken this occasion to say most unfeeling and brutal things. I do not ask the clergy to forgive me, but I do request that they will so act that I will not have to forgive them. I have always insisted that those who love their enemies should at least tell the truth about their friends, but I suppose, after all, that religion must be supported by the same means as those by which it was founded. Of course, there are thousands of good ministers, men who are endeavoring to make the world better, and whose failure is no particular fault of their own. I have always been in doubt as to whether the clergy were a necessary or an unnecessary evil.
Question. I would like to have a positive expression of your views as to a future state?
Answer. Somebody asked Confucius about another world, and his reply was: "How should I know anything about another world when I know so little of this?" For my part, I know nothing of any other state of existence, either before or after this, and I have never become personally acquainted with anybody that did. There may be another life, and if there is, the best way to prepare for it is by making somebody happy in this. God certainly cannot afford to put a man in hell who has made a little heaven in this world. I propose simply to take my chances with the rest of the folks, and prepare to go where the people I am best acquainted with will probably settle. I cannot afford to leave the great ship and sneak off to shore in some orthodox canoe. I hope there is another life, for I would like to see how things come out in the world when I am dead. There are some people I would like to see again, and hope there are some who would not object to seeing me; but if there is no other life I shall never know it. I do not remember a time when I did not exist; and if, when I die, that is the end, I shall not know it, because the last thing I shall know is that I am alive, and if nothing is left, nothing will be left to know that I am dead; so that so far as I am concerned I am immortal; that is to say, I cannot recollect when I did not exist, and there never will be a time when I shall remember that I do not exist. I would like to have several millions of dollars, and I may say that I have a lively hope that some day I may be rich, but to tell you the truth I have very little evidence of it. Our hope of immortality does not come from any religion, but nearly all religions come from that hope. The Old Testament, instead of telling us that we are immortal, tells us how we lost immortality. You will recollect that if Adam and Eve could have gotten to the Tree of Life, they would have eaten of its fruit and would have lived forever; but for the purpose of preventing immortality God turned them out of the Garden of Eden, and put certain angels with swords or sabres at the gate to keep them from getting back. The Old Testament proves, if it proves anything—which I do not think it does—that there is no life after this; and the New Testament is not very specific on the subject. There were a great many opportunities for the Saviour and his apostles to tell us about another world, but they did not improve them to any great extent; and the only evidence, so far as I know, about another life is, first, that we have no evidence; and, secondly, that we are rather sorry that we have not, and wish we had. That is about my position.
Question. According to your observation of men, and your reading in relation to the men and women of the world and of the church, if there is another world divided according to orthodox principles between the orthodox and heterodox, which of the two that are known as heaven and hell would contain, in your judgment, the most good society?
Answer. Since hanging has got to be a means of grace, I would prefer hell. I had a thousand times rather associate with the Pagan philosophers than with the inquisitors of the Middle Ages. I certainly should prefer the worst man in Greek or Roman history to John Calvin; and I can imagine no man in the world that I would not rather sit on the same bench with than the Puritan fathers and the founders of orthodox churches. I would trade off my harp any minute for a seat in the other country. All the poets will be in perdition, and the greatest thinkers, and, I should think, most of the women whose society would tend to increase the happiness of man; nearly all the painters, nearly all the sculptors, nearly all the writers of plays, nearly all the great actors, most of the best musicians, and nearly all the good fellows—the persons who know stories, who can sing songs, or who will loan a friend a dollar. They will mostly all be in that country, and if I did not live there permanently, I certainly would want it so I could spend my winter months there. But, after all, what I really want to do is to destroy the idea of eternal punishment. That doctrine subverts all ideas of justice. That doctrine fills hell with honest men, and heaven with intellectual and moral paupers. That doctrine allows people to sin on credit. That doctrine allows the basest to be eternally happy and the most honorable to suffer eternal pain. I think of all doctrines it is the most infinitely infamous, and would disgrace the lowest savage; and any man who believes it, and has imagination enough to understand it, has the heart of a serpent and the conscience of a hyena.
Question. Your objective point is to destroy the doctrine of hell, is it?
Answer. Yes, because the destruction of that doctrine will do away with all cant and all pretence. It will do away with all religious bigotry and persecution. It will allow every man to think and to express his thought. It will do away with bigotry in all its slimy and offensive forms.
—Chicago Tribune, November 14, 1879.
POLITICS AND GEN. GRANT
Question. Some people have made comparisons between the late Senators O. P. Morton and Zach. Chandler. What did you think of them, Colonel?
Answer. I think Morton had the best intellectual grasp of a question of any man I ever saw. There was an infinite difference between the two men. Morton's strength lay in proving a thing; Chandler's in asserting it. But Chandler was a strong man and no hypocrite.
Question. Have you any objection to being interviewed as to your ideas of Grant, and his position before the people?
Answer. I have no reason for withholding my views on that or any other subject that is under public discussion. My idea is that Grant can afford to regard the presidency as a broken toy. It would add nothing to his fame if he were again elected, and would add nothing to the debt of gratitude which the people feel they owe him. I do not think he will be a candidate. I do not think he wants it. There are men who are pushing him on their own account. Grant was a great soldier. He won the respect of the civilized world. He commanded the largest army that ever fought for freedom, and to make him President would not add a solitary leaf to the wreath of fame already on his brow; and should he be elected, the only thing he could do would be to keep the old wreath from fading.
I do not think his reputation can ever be as great in any direction as in the direction of war. He has made his reputation and has lived his great life. I regard him, confessedly, as the best soldier the Anglo-Saxon blood has produced. I do not know that it necessarily follows because he is a great soldier he is great in other directions. Probably some of the greatest statesmen in the world would have been the worst soldiers.
Question. Do you regard him as more popular now than ever before?
Answer. I think that his reputation is certainly greater and higher than when he left the presidency, and mainly because he has represented this country with so much discretion and with such quiet, poised dignity all around the world. He has measured himself with kings, and was able to look over the heads of every one of them. They were not quite as tall as he was, even adding the crown to their original height. I think he represented us abroad with wonderful success. One thing that touched me very much was, that at a reception given him by the workingmen of Birmingham, after he had been received by royalty, he had the courage to say that that reception gave him more pleasure than any other. He has been throughout perfectly true to the genius of our institutions, and has not upon any occasion exhibited the slightest toadyism. Grant is a man who is not greatly affected by either flattery or abuse.
Question. What do you believe to be his position in regard to the presidency?
Answer. My own judgment is that he does not care. I do not think he has any enemies to punish, and I think that while he was President he certainly rewarded most of his friends.
Question. What are your views as to a third term?
Answer. I have no objection to a third term on principle, but so many men want the presidency that it seems almost cruel to give a third term to anyone.
Question. Then, if there is no objection to a third term, what about a fourth?
Answer. I do not know that that could be objected to, either. We have to admit, after all, that the American people, or at least a majority of them, have a right to elect one man as often as they please. Personally, I think it should not be done unless in the case of a man who is prominent above the rest of his fellow-citizens, and whose election appears absolutely necessary. But I frankly confess I cannot conceive of any political situation where one man is a necessity. I do not believe in the one-man-on-horseback idea, because I believe in all the people being on horseback.
Question. What will be the effect of the enthusiastic receptions that are being given to General Grant?
Answer. I think these ovations show that the people are resolved not to lose the results of the great victories of the war, and that they make known this determination by their attention to General Grant. I think that if he goes through the principal cities of this country the old spirit will be revived everywhere, and whether it makes him President or not the result will be to make the election go Republican. The revival of the memories of the war will bring the people of the North together as closely as at any time since that great conflict closed, not in the spirit of hatred, or malice or envy, but in generous emulation to preserve that which was fairly won. I do not think there is any hatred about it, but we are beginning to see that we must save the South ourselves, and that that is the only way we can save the nation.
Question. But suppose they give the same receptions in the South?
Answer. So much the better.
Question. Is there any split in the solid South?
Answer. Some of the very best people in the South are apparently disgusted with following the Democracy any longer, and would hail with delight any opportunity they could reasonably take advantage of to leave the organization, if they could do so without making it appear that they were going back on Southern interests, and this opportunity will come when the South becomes enlightened, and sees that it has no interests except in common with the whole country. That I think they are beginning to see.
Question. How do you like the administration of President Hayes?
Answer. I think its attitude has greatly improved of late. There are certain games of cards—pedro, for instance, where you can not only fail to make something, but be set back. I think that Hayes's veto messages very nearly got him back to the commencement of the game—that he is now almost ready to commence counting, and make some points. His position before the country has greatly improved, but he will not develop into a dark horse. My preference is, of course, still for Blaine.
Question. Where do you think it is necessary the Republican candidate should come from to insure success?
Answer. Somewhere out of Ohio. I think it will go to Maine, and for this reason: First of all, Blaine is certainly a competent man of affairs, a man who knows what to do at the time; and then he has acted in such a chivalric way ever since the convention at Cincinnati, that those who opposed him most bitterly, now have for him nothing but admiration. I think John Sherman is a man of decided ability, but I do not believe the American people would make one brother President, while the other is General of the Army. It would be giving too much power to one family.
Question. What are your conclusions as to the future of the Democratic party?
Answer. I think the Democratic party ought to disband. I think they would be a great deal stronger disbanded, because they would get rid of their reputation without decreasing.
Question. But if they will not disband?
Answer. Then the next campaign depends undoubtedly upon New York and Indiana. I do not see how they can very well help nominating a man from Indiana, and by that I mean Hendricks. You see the South has one hundred and thirty-eight votes, all supposed to be Democratic; with the thirty-five from New York and fifteen from Indiana they would have just three to spare. Now, I take it, that the fifteen from Indiana are just about as essential as the thirty- five from New York. To lack fifteen votes is nearly as bad as being thirty-five short, and so far as drawing salary is concerned it is quite as bad. Mr. Hendricks ought to know that he holds the key to Indiana, and that there cannot be any possibility of carrying this State for Democracy without him. He has tried running for the vice-presidency, which is not much of a place anyhow—I would about as soon be vice-mother-in-law—and my judgment is that he knows exactly the value of his geographical position. New York is divided to that degree that it would be unsafe to take a candidate from that State; and besides, New York has become famous for furnishing defeated candidates for the Democracy. I think the man must come from Indiana.
Question. Would the Democracy of New York unite on Seymour?
Answer. You recollect what Lincoln said about the powder that had been shot off once. I do not remember any man who has once made a race for the presidency and been defeated ever being again nominated.
Question. What about Bayard and Hancock as candidates?
Answer. I do not see how Bayard could possibly carry Indiana, while his own State is too small and too solidly Democratic. My idea of Bayard is that he has not been good enough to be popular, and not bad enough to be famous. The American people will never elect a President from a State with a whipping-post. As to General Hancock, you may set it down as certain that the South will never lend their aid to elect a man who helped to put down the Rebellion. It would be just the same as the effort to elect Greeley. It cannot be done. I see, by the way, that I am reported as having said that David Davis, as the Democratic candidate, could carry Illinois. I did say that in 1876, he could have carried it against Hayes; but whether he could carry Illinois in 1880 would depend altogether upon who runs against him. The condition of things has changed greatly in our favor since 1876.
—The Journal, Indianapolis, Ind., November, 1879.
POLITICS, RELIGION AND THOMAS PAINE.
Question. You have traveled about this State more or less, lately, and have, of course, observed political affairs here. Do you think that Senator Logan will be able to deliver this State to the Grant movement according to the understood plan?
Answer. If the State is really for Grant, he will, and if it is not, he will not. Illinois is as little "owned" as any State in this Union. Illinois would naturally be for Grant, other things being equal, because he is regarded as a citizen of this State, and it is very hard for a State to give up the patronage naturally growing out of the fact that the President comes from that State.
Question. Will the instructions given to delegates be final?
Answer. I do not think they will be considered final at all; neither do I think they will be considered of any force. It was decided at the last convention, in Cincinnati, that the delegates had a right to vote as they pleased; that each delegate represented the district of the State that sent him. The idea that a State convention can instruct them as against the wishes of their constituents smacks a little too much of State sovereignty. The President should be nominated by the districts of the whole country, and not by massing the votes by a little chicanery at a State convention, and every delegate ought to vote what he really believes to be the sentiment of his constituents, irrespective of what the State convention may order him to do. He is not responsible to the State convention, and it is none of the State convention's business. This does not apply, it may be, to the delegates at large, but to all the others it certainly must apply. It was so decided at the Cincinnati convention, and decided on a question arising about this same Pennsylvania delegation.
Question. Can you guess as to what the platform in going to contain?
Answer. I suppose it will be a substantial copy of the old one. I am satisfied with the old one with one addition. I want a plank to the effect that no man shall be deprived of any civil or political right on account of his religious or irreligious opinions. The Republican party having been foremost in freeing the body ought to do just a little something now for the mind. After having wasted rivers of blood and treasure uncounted, and almost uncountable, to free the cage, I propose that something ought to be done for the bird. Every decent man in the United States would support that plank. People should have a right to testify in courts, whatever their opinions may be, on any subject. Justice should not shut any door leading to truth, and as long as just views neither affect a man's eyesight or his memory, he should be allowed to tell his story. And there are two sides to this question, too. The man is not only deprived of his testimony, but the commonwealth is deprived of it. There should be no religious test in this country for office; and if Jehovah cannot support his religion without going into partnership with a State Legislature, I think he ought to give it up.
Question. Is there anything new about religion since you were last here?
Answer. Since I was here I have spoken in a great many cities, and to-morrow I am going to do some missionary work at Milwaukee. Many who have come to scoff have remained to pray, and I think that my labors are being greatly blessed, and all attacks on me so far have been overruled for good. I happened to come in contact with a revival of religion, and I believe what they call an "outpouring" at Detroit, under the leadership of a gentleman by the name of Pentecost. He denounced me as God's greatest enemy. I had always supposed that the Devil occupied that exalted position, but it seems that I have, in some way, fallen heir to his shoes. Mr. Pentecost also denounced all business men who would allow any advertisements or lithographs of mine to hang in their places of business, and several of these gentlemen thus appealed to took the advertisements away. The result of all this was that I had the largest house that ever attended a lecture in Detroit. Feeling that ingratitude is a crime, I publicly returned thanks to the clergy for the pains they had taken to give me an audience. And I may say, in this connection, that if the ministers do God as little good as they do me harm, they had better let both of us alone. I regard them as very good, but exceedingly mistaken men. They do not come much in contact with the world, and get most of their views by talking with the women and children of their congregations. They are not permitted to mingle freely with society. They cannot attend plays nor hear operas. I believe some of them have ventured to minstrel shows and menageries, where they confine themselves strictly to the animal part of the entertainment. But, as a rule, they have very few opportunities of ascertaining what the real public opinion is. They read religious papers, edited by gentlemen who know as little about the world as themselves, and the result of all this is that they are rather behind the times. They are good men, and would like to do right if they only knew it, but they are a little behind the times. There is an old story told of a fellow who had a post-office in a small town in North Carolina, and he being the only man in the town who could read, a few people used to gather in the post-office on Sunday, and he would read to them a weekly paper that was published in Washington. He commenced always at the top of the first column and read right straight through, articles, advertisements, and all, and whenever they got a little tired of reading he would make a mark of red ochre and commence at that place the next Sunday. The result was that the papers came a great deal faster than he read them, and it was about 1817 when they struck the war of 1812. The moment they got to that, every one of them jumped up and offered to volunteer. All of which shows that they were patriotic people, but a little show, and somewhat behind the times.
Question. How were you pleased with the Paine meeting here, and its results?
Answer. I was gratified to see so many people willing at last to do justice to a great and a maligned man. Of course I do not claim that Paine was perfect. All I claim is that he was a patriot and a political philosopher; that he was a revolutionist and an agitator; that he was infinitely full of suggestive thought, and that he did more than any man to convince the people of American not only that they ought to separate from Great Britain, but that they ought to found a representative government. He has been despised simply because he did not believe the Bible. I wish to do what I can to rescue his name from theological defamation. I think the day has come when Thomas Paine will be remembered with Washington, Franklin and Jefferson, and that the American people will wonder that their fathers could have been guilty of such base ingratitude.
—Chicago Times, February 8, 1880.
REPLY TO CHICAGO CRITICS.
Question. Have you read the replies of the clergy to your recent lecture in this city on "What Must we do to be Saved?" and if so what do you think of them?
Answer. I think they dodge the point. The real point is this: If salvation by faith is the real doctrine of Christianity, I asked on Sunday before last, and I still ask, why didn't Matthew tell it? I still insist that Mark should have remembered it, and I shall always believe that Luke ought, at least, to have noticed it. I was endeavoring to show that modern Christianity has for its basis an interpolation. I think I showed it. The only gospel on the orthodox side is that of John, and that was certainly not written, or did not appear in its present form, until long after the others were written.
I know very well that the Catholic Church claimed during the Dark Ages, and still claims, that references had been made to the gospels by persons living in the first, second, and third centuries; but I believe such manuscripts were manufactured by the Catholic Church. For many years in Europe there was not one person in twenty thousand who could read and write. During that time the church had in its keeping the literature of our world. They interpolated as they pleased. They created. They destroyed. In other words, they did whatever in their opinion was necessary to substantiate the faith.
The gentlemen who saw fit to reply did not answer the question, and I again call upon the clergy to explain to the people why, if salvation depends upon belief on the Lord Jesus Christ, Matthew didn't mention it. Some one has said that Christ didn't make known this doctrine of salvation by belief or faith until after his resurrection. Certainly none of the gospels were written until after his resurrection; and if he made that doctrine known after his resurrection, and before his ascension, it should have been in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, as well as in John.
The replies of the clergy show that they have not investigated the subject; that they are not well acquainted with the New Testament. In other words, they have not read it except with the regulation theological bias.
There is one thing I wish to correct here. In an editorial in the Tribune it was stated that I had admitted that Christ was beyond and above Buddha, Zoroaster, Confucius, and others. I did not say so. Another point was made against me, and those who made it seemed to think it was a good one. In my lecture I asked why it was that the disciples of Christ wrote in Greek, whereas, if fact, they understood only Hebrew. It is now claimed that Greek was the language of Jerusalem at that time; that Hebrew had fallen into disuse; that no one understood it except the literati and the highly educated. If I fell into an error upon this point it was because I relied upon the New Testament. I find in the twenty-first chapter of the Acts an account of Paul having been mobbed in the city of Jerusalem; that he was protected by a chief captain and some soldiers; that, while upon the stairs of the castle to which he was being taken for protection, he obtained leave from the captain to speak unto the people. In the fortieth verse of that chapter I find the following:
"And when he had given him license, Paul stood on the stairs and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying,"
And then follows the speech of Paul, wherein he gives an account of his conversion. It seems a little curious to me that Paul, for the purpose of quieting a mob, would speak to that mob in an unknown language. If I were mobbed in the city of Chicago, and wished to defend myself with an explanation, I certainly would not make that explanation in Choctaw, even if I understood that tongue. My present opinion is that I would speak in English; and the reason I would speak in English is because that language is generally understood in this city, and so I conclude from the account in the twenty-first chapter of the Acts that Hebrew was the language of Jerusalem at that time, or Paul would not have addressed the mob in that tongue.
Question. Did you read Mr. Courtney's answer?
Answer. I read what Mr. Courtney read from others, and think some of his quotations very good; and have no doubt that the authors will feel complimented by being quoted. There certainly is no need of my answering Dr. Courtney; sometime I may answer the French gentlemen from whom he quoted.
Question. But what about there being "belief" in Matthew?
Answer. Mr. Courtney says that certain people were cured of diseases on account of faith. Admitting that mumps, measles, and whooping-cough could be cured in that way, there is not even a suggestion that salvation depended upon a like faith. I think he can hardly afford to rely upon the miracles of the New Testament to prove his doctrine. There is one instance in which a miracle was performed by Christ without his knowledge; and I hardly think that even Mr. Courtney would insist that any faith could have been great enough for that. The fact is, I believe that all these miracles were ascribed to Christ long after his death, and that Christ never, at any time or place, pretended to have any supernatural power whatever. Neither do I believe that he claimed any supernatural origin. He claimed simply to be a man; no less, no more. I do not believe Mr. Courtney is satisfied with his own reply.
Question. And now as to Prof. Swing?
Answer. Mr. Swing has been out of the orthodox church so long that he seems to have forgotten the reasons for which he left it. I do not believe there is an orthodox minister in the city of Chicago who will agree with Mr. Swing that salvation by faith is no longer preached. Prof. Swing seems to think it of no importance who wrote the gospel of Matthew. In this I agree with him. Judging from what he said there is hardly difference enough of opinion between us to justify a reply on his part. He, however, makes one mistake. I did not in the lecture say one word about tearing down churches. I have no objection to people building all the churches they wish. While I admit it is a pretty sight to see children on a morning in June going through the fields to the country church, I still insist that the beauty of that sight does not answer the question how it is that Matthew forgot to say anything about salvation through Christ. Prof. Swing is a man of poetic temperament, but this is not a poetic question.
Question. How did the card of Dr. Thomas strike you?
Answer. I think the reply of Dr. Thomas is in the best possible spirit. I regard him to-day as the best intellect in the Methodist denomination. He seems to have what is generally understood as a Christian spirit. He has always treated me with perfect fairness, and I should have said long ago many grateful things, had I not feared I might hurt him with his own people. He seems to be by nature a perfectly fair man; and I know of no man in the United States for whom I have a profounder respect. Of course, I don't agree with Dr. Thomas. I think in many things he is mistaken. But I believe him to be perfectly sincere. There is one trouble about him—he is growing; and this fact will no doubt give great trouble to many of his brethren. Certain Methodist hazel-brush feel a little uneasy in the shadow of this oak. To see the difference between him and some others, all that is necessary is to read his reply, and then read the remarks made at the Methodist ministers' meeting on the Monday following. Compared with Dr. Thomas, they are as puddles by the sea. There is the same difference that there is between sewers and rivers, cesspools and springs.
Question. What have you to say to the remarks of the Rev. Dr. Jewett before the Methodist ministers' meeting?
Answer. I think Dr. Jewett is extremely foolish. I did not say that I would commence suit against a minister for libel. I can hardly conceive of a proceeding that would be less liable to produce a dividend. The fact about it is, that the Rev. Mr. Jewett seems to think anything true that he hears against me. Mr. Jewett is probably ashamed of what he said by this time. He must have known it to be entirely false. It seems to me by this time even the most bigoted should lose their confidence in falsehood. Of course there are times when a falsehood well told bridges over quite a difficulty, but in the long run you had better tell the truth, even if you swim the creek. I am astonished that these ministers were willing to exhibit their wounds to the world. I supposed of course I would hit some, but I had no idea of wounding so many.
Question. Mr. Crafts stated that you were in the habit of swearing in company and before your family?
Answer. I often swear. In other words, I take the name of God in vain; that is to say, I take it without any practical thing resulting from it, and in that sense I think most ministers are guilty of the same thing. I heard an old story of a clergyman who rebuked a neighbor for swearing, to whom the neighbor replied, "You pray and I swear, but as a matter of fact neither of us means anything by it." As to the charge that I am in the habit of using indecent language in my family, no reply is needed. I am willing to leave that question to the people who know us both. Mr. Crafts says he was told this by a lady. This cannot by any possibility be true, for no lady will tell a falsehood. Besides, if this woman of whom he speaks was a lady, how did she happen to stay where obscene language was being used? No lady ever told Mr. Crafts any such thing. It may be that a lady did tell him that I used profane language. I admit that I have not always spoken of the Devil in a respectful way; that I have sometimes referred to his residence when it was not a necessary part of the conversation, and that a divers times I have used a good deal of the terminology of the theologian when the exact words of the scientist might have done as well. But if by swearing is meant the use of God's name in vain, there are very few preachers who do not swear more than I do, if by "in vain" is meant without any practical result. I leave Mr. Crafts to cultivate the acquaintance of the unknown lady, knowing as I do, that after they have talked this matter over again they will find that both have been mistaken.
I sincerely regret that clergymen who really believe that an infinite God is on their side think it necessary to resort to such things to defeat one man. According to their idea, God is against me, and they ought to have confidence in this infinite wisdom and strength to suppose that he could dispose of one man, even if they failed to say a word against me. Had you not asked me I should have said nothing to you on these topics. Such charges cannot hurt me. I do not believe it possible for such men to injure me. No one believes what they say, and the testimony of such clergymen against an Infidel is no longer considered of value. I believe it was Goethe who said, "I always know that I am traveling when I hear the dogs bark."
Question. Are you going to make a formal reply to their sermons?
Answer. Not unless something better is done than has been. Of course, I don't know what another Sabbath may bring forth. I am waiting. But of one thing I feel perfectly assured; that no man in the United States, or in the world, can account for the fact, if we are to be saved only by faith in Christ, that Matthew forgot it, that Luke said nothing about it, and that Mark never mentioned it except in two passages written by another person. Until that is answered, as one grave-digger says to the other in "Hamlet," I shall say, "Ay, tell me that and unyoke." In the meantime I wish to keep on the best terms with all parties concerned. I cannot see why my forgiving spirit fails to gain their sincere praise.
—Chicago Tribune, September 30, 1880.
THE REPUBLICAN VICTORY.
Question. Do you really think, Colonel, that the country has just passed through a crisis?
Answer. Yes; there was a crisis and a great one. The question was whether a Northern or Southern idea of the powers and duties of the Federal Government was to prevail. The great victory of yesterday means that the Rebellion was not put down on the field of war alone, but that we have conquered in the realm of thought. The bayonet has been justified by argument. No party can ever succeed in this country that even whispers "State Sovereignty." That doctrine has become odious. The sovereignty of the State means a Government without power, and citizens without protection.
Question. Can you see any further significance in the present Republican victory other than that the people do not wish to change the general policy of the present administration?
Answer. Yes; the people have concluded that the lips of America shall be free. There never was free speech at the South, and there never will be until the people of that section admit that the Nation is superior to the State, and that all citizens have equal rights. I know of hundreds who voted the Republican ticket because they regarded the South as hostile to free speech. The people were satisfied with the financial policy of the Republicans, and they feared a change. The North wants honest money—gold and silver. The people are in favor of honest votes, and they feared the practices of the Democratic party. The tissue ballot and shotgun policy made them hesitate to put power in the hands of the South. Besides, the tariff question made thousands and thousands of votes. As long as Europe has slave labor, and wherever kings and priests rule, the laborer will be substantially a slave. We must protect ourselves. If the world were free, trade would be free, and the seas would be the free highways of the world. The great objects of the Republican party are to preserve all the liberty we have, protect American labor, and to make it the undisputed duty of the Government to protect every citizen at home and abroad.
Question. What do you think was the main cause of the Republican sweep?
Answer. The wisdom of the Republicans and the mistakes of the Democrats. The Democratic party has for twenty years underrated the intelligence, the patriotism and the honesty of the American people. That party has always looked upon politics as a trade, and success as the last act of a cunning trick. It has had no principles, fixed or otherwise. It has always been willing to abandon everything but its prejudices. It generally commences where it left off and then goes backward. In this campaign English was a mistake, Hancock was another. Nothing could have been more incongruous than yoking a Federal soldier with a peace-at-any-price Democrat. Neither could praise the other without slandering himself, and the blindest partisan could not like them both. But, after all, I regard the military record of English as fully equal to the views of General Hancock on the tariff. The greatest mistake that the Democratic party made was to suppose that a campaign could be fought and won by slander. The American people like fair play and they abhor ignorant and absurd vituperation. The continent knew that General Garfield was an honest man; that he was in the grandest sense a gentleman; that he was patriotic, profound and learned; that his private life was pure; that his home life was good and kind and true, and all the charges made and howled and screeched and printed and sworn to harmed only those who did the making and the howling, the screeching and the swearing. I never knew a man in whose perfect integrity I had more perfect confidence, and in less than one year even the men who have slandered him will agree with me.
Question. How about that "personal and confidential letter"? (The Morey letter.)
Answer. It was as stupid, as devilish, as basely born as godfathered. It is an exploded forgery, and the explosion leaves dead and torn upon the field the author and his witnesses.
Question. Is there anything in the charge that the Republican party seeks to change our form of government by gradual centralization?
Answer. Nothing whatever. We want power enough in the Government to protect, not to destroy, the liberties of the people. The history of the world shows that burglars have always opposed an increase of the police.
—New York Herald, November 5, 1880.
INGERSOLL AND BEECHER.*
[* The sensation created by the speech of the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher at the Academy of Music, in Brooklyn, when he uttered a brilliant eulogy of Col. Robert Ingersoll and publicly shook hands with him has not yet subsided. A portion of the religious world is thoroughly stirred up at what it considers a gross breach of orthodox propriety. This feeling is especially strong among the class of positivists who believe that
"An Atheist's laugh's a poor exchange For Deity offended."
Many believe that Mr. Beecher is at heart in full sympathy and accord with Ingersoll's teachings, but has not courage enough to say so at the sacrifice of his pastoral position. The fact that these two men are the very head and front of their respective schools of thought makes the matter an important one. The denouncement of the doctrine of eternal punishment, followed by the scene at the Academy, has about it an aroma of suggestiveness that might work much harm without an explanation. Since Colonel Ingersoll's recent attack upon the personnel of the clergy through the "Shorter Catechism" the pulpit has been remarkably silent regarding the great atheist. "Is the keen logic and broad humanity of Ingersoll converting the brain and heart of Christendom?" was recently asked. Did the hand that was stretched out to him on the stage of the Academy reach across the chasm which separates orthodoxy from infidelity?
Desiring to answer the last question if possible, a Herald reporter visited Mr. Beecher and Colonel Ingersoll to learn their opinion of each other. Neither of the gentlemen was aware that the other was being interviewed.]
Question. What is your opinion of Mr. Beecher?
Answer. I regard him as the greatest man in any pulpit of the world. He treated me with a generosity that nothing can exceed. He rose grandly above the prejudices supposed to belong to his class, and acted as only a man could act without a chain upon his brain and only kindness in his heart.
I told him that night that I congratulated the world that it had a minister with an intellectual horizon broad enough and a mental sky studded with stars of genius enough to hold all creeds in scorn that shocked the heart of man. I think that Mr. Beecher has liberalized the English-speaking people of the world.
I do not think he agrees with me. He holds to many things that I most passionately deny. But in common, we believe in the liberty of thought.
My principal objections to orthodox religion are two—slavery here and hell hereafter. I do not believe that Mr. Beecher on these points can disagree with me. The real difference between us is— he says God, I say Nature. The real agreement between us is—we both say—Liberty.
Question. What is his forte?
Answer. He is of a wonderfully poetic temperament. In pursuing any course of thought his mind is like a stream flowing through the scenery of fairyland. The stream murmurs and laughs while the banks grow green and the vines blossom.