by Joseph Lewis
Gems Concerning Great Infidels
For all the blessings that we now enjoy -- for progress in every form, for science and art -- for all that has lengthened life, that has conquered disease, that has lessened pain, for raiment, roof and food, for music in its highest forms -- for the poetry that has ennobled and enriched our lives -- for the marvellous machines now working for the world -- for all this we are indebted to the worldly -- to those who turned their attention to the affairs of this life. They have been the only benefactors of our race.
Since the murder of Hypatia in the fifth century, when the polished blade of Greek philosophy was broken by the club of ignorant Catholicism, until to-day, superstition has detested every effort of reason.
How many grand thinkers have died with the mailed hand of superstition upon their lips? How many splendid ideas have perished in the cradle of the brain, strangled in the poison-coils of that python, the Church!
For thousands of years a thinker was hunted down like an escaped convict. To him who had braved the church, every door was shut, every knife was open. To shelter him from the wild storm, to give him a crust when dying, to put a cup of water to his cracked and bleeding lips; these were all crimes, not one of which the church ever did forgive; and with the justice taught of her God, his helpless children were exterminated as scorpions and vipers.
Who at the present day can imagine the courage, the devotion to principle, the intellectual and moral grandeur it once required to be an infidel, to brave the church, her racks, her fagots, her dungeons, her tongues of fire, -- to defy and scorn her heaven and her hell -- her devil and her God? They were the noblest sons of earth. They were the real saviors of our race, the destroyers of superstition and the creators of Science. They were the real Titans who bared their grand foreheads to all the thunderbolts of all the gods.
The church has been, and still is, the great robber. She has rifled not only the pockets but the brains of the world. She is the stone at the sepulchre of liberty; the upas tree, in whose shade the intellect of man has withered; the Gorgon beneath whose gaze the human heart has turned to stone.
Let us thank every good and noble man who stood so grandly, so proudly, in spite of opposition, of hatred and death, for what he believed to be the truth.
I deny the right of any man, of any number of men, of any church, of any State, to put a padlock on the lips -- to make the tongue a convict. I passionately deny the right of the Herod of authority to kill the children of the brain.
The night of the Middle Ages lasted for a thousand years. The first star that enriched the horizon of this universal gloom was Giordano Bruno. He was the herald of the dawn.
He was born in 1550, was educated for a priest, became a Dominican friar. At last his reason revolted against the doctrine of transubstantiation. He could not believe that the entire Trinity was in a wafer, or in a swallow of wine. He could not believe that a man could devour the Creator of the universe by eating a piece of bread. This led him to investigate other dogmas of the Catholic Church, and in every direction he found the same contradictions and impossibilities supported, not by reason, but by faith.
He was arrested for teaching that there are other worlds than this; that many of the stars are suns, around which other worlds revolve; that Nature did not exhaust all her energies on this grain of sand called the earth. He believed in a plurality of worlds, in the rotation of this, in the heliocentric theory. For these crimes, and for these alone, he was imprisoned for six years. He was kept in solitary confinement. He was allowed no books, no friends, no visitors. He was denied pen and paper. In the darkness, in the loneliness, he had time to examine the great questions of origin, of existence, of destiny. He put to the test what is called the goodness of God. He found that he could neither depend upon man nor upon any deity. At last, the Inquisition demanded him. He was tried, condemned, excommunicated and sentenced to be burned....
After every argument of the church has been answered, has been refuted, then the church cries, "blasphemy!"
Blasphemy is what an old mistake says of a newly discovered truth.
Blasphemy is what a withered last year's leaf says to a this year's bud.
Blasphemy is the bulwark of religious prejudice.
Blasphemy is the breastplate of the heartless.
No man can blaspheme a book. No man can commit blasphemy by telling his honest thought. No man can blaspheme a God, or a Holy Ghost, or a Son of God. The Infinite cannot be blasphemed.
The stars became witnesses against the creeds of superstition.
With the telescope the heavens were explored. The New Jerusalem could not be found.
It had faded away.
The church persecuted the astronomers and denied the facts. In February, in the year of grace sixteen hundred, the Catholic Church, the "Triumphant Beast," having in her hands, her paws, the keys of heaven and hell, accused Giordano Bruno of having declared that there were other worlds than this. He was tried, convicted, imprisoned in a dungeon for seven years. He was offered his liberty, if he would recant. Bruno, the atheist, the philosopher, refused to stain his soul by denying what he believed to be true. He was taken from his cell by the priests, by those who loved their enemies, led to the place of execution. He was clad in a robe on which representations of devils had been painted -- the devils that were soon to claim his soul. He was chained to a stake and about his body the wood was piled. Then priests, followers of Christ, lighted the fagots and flames consumed the greatest, the most perfect martyr, that ever suffered death.
I believe it is, as it always has been, easier to kill two infidels than to answer one.
Posterity is for the philosopher what the other world is for the devotee.
On the sixteenth day of February, in the year of grace 1600, by "the Triumphant Beast," the Church of Rome, this philosopher, this great and splendid man, was burned. He was offered his liberty if he would recant. There was no God to be offended by his recantation, and yet, as an apostle of what he believed to be the truth, he refused this offer. To those who passed the sentence upon him he said: "It is with greater fear that ye pass this sentence upon me than I receive it." This man, greater than any naturalist of his day; grander than the martyr of any religion, died willingly in defence of what he believed to be the sacred truth. He was great enough to know that real religion will not destroy the joy of life on earth; great enough to know that investigation is not a crime -- that the really useful is not hidden in the mysteries of faith. He knew that the Jewish records were below the level of the Greek and Roman myths; that there is no such thing as special providence; that prayer is useless; that liberty and necessity are the same, and that good and evil are but relative.
He was the first real martyr, -- neither frightened by perdition, nor bribed by heaven. He was the first of all the world who died for truth without expectation of reward. He did not anticipate a crown of glory. His imagination had not peopled the heavens with angels waiting for his soul. He had not been promised an eternity of joy if he stood firm, nor had he been threatened with the fires of hell if he wavered and recanted. He expected as his reward an eternal nothing! Death was to him an everlasting end -- nothing beyond but a sleep without a dream, a night without a star, without a dawn -- nothing but extinction, blank, utter, and eternal. No crown, no palm, no "well done, good and faithful servant," no shout of welcome, no song of praise, no smile of God, no kiss of Christ, no mansion in the fair skies -- not even a grave within the earth -- nothing but ashes, wind-blown and priest-scattered, mixed with earth and trampled beneath the feet of men and beasts.
The murder of this man will never be completely and perfectly avenged until from Rome shall be swept every vestige of priest and pope, until over the shapeless ruin of St. Peter's, the crumbled Vatican and the fallen cross, shall rise a monument to Bruno, -- the thinker, philosopher, philanthropist, atheist, martyr.
There are two things that cannot exist in the same universe -- an infinite God and a martyr.
One of the greatest thinkers was Benedict Spinoza, a Jew, born at Amsterdam, in 1632. He studied medicine and afterward theology. He endeavored to understand what he studied. In theology he necessarily failed. Theology is not intended to be understood, -- it is only to be believed. It is an act, not of reason, but of faith. Spinoza put to the rabbis so many questions, and so persistently asked for reasons, that he became the most troublesome of students. When the rabbis found it impossible to answer the questions, they concluded to silence the questioner. He was tried, found guilty, and excommunicated from the synagogue.
By the terrible curse of the Jewish religion, he was made an outcast from every Jewish home. His father could not give him shelter. His mother could not give him bread -- could not speak to him, without becoming an outcast herself. All the cruelty of Jehovah, all the infamy of the Old Testament, was in this curse. In the darkness of the synagogue the rabbis lighted their torches, and while pronouncing the curse, extinguished them in blood, imploring God that in like manner the soul of Benedict Spinoza might be extinguished.
Spinoza was but twenty-four years old when he found himself without kindred, without friends, surrounded only by enemies. He uttered no complaint. He earned his bread with willing hands, and cheerfully divided his crust with those still poorer than himself.
He tried to solve the problem of existence. To him, the universe was one. The Infinite embraced the All. The All was God. According to his belief, the universe did not commence to be. It is; from eternity it was; to eternity it will be.
He was right. The universe is all there is, or was, or will be. It is both subject and object, contemplator and contemplated, creator and created, destroyer and destroyed, preserver and preserved, and hath within itself all causes, modes, motions and effects.
In this there is hope. This is a foundation and a star. The Infinite is the All. Without the All, the Infinite cannot be. I am something. Without me, the Infinite cannot exist.
Spinoza was a naturalist -- that is to say, a pantheist. He took the ground that the supernatural is, and forever will be, an infinite impossibility. His propositions are luminous as stars, and each of his demonstrations is a Gibraltar, behind which logic sits and smiles at all the sophistries of superstition.
Spinoza has been hated because he has not been answered. He was a real republican. He regarded the people as the true and only source of political power. He put the state above the church, the people above the priest. He believed in the absolute liberty of worship, thought and speech. In every relation of life he was just, true, gentle, patient, modest and loving. He respected the rights of others, and endeavored to enjoy his own, and yet he brought upon himself the hatred of the Jewish and the Christian world. In his day, logic was blasphemy, and to think was the unpardonable sin. The priest hated the philosopher, revelation reviled reason, and faith was the sworn foe of every fact.
Spinoza was a philosopher, a philanthropist. He lived in a world of his own. He avoided men. His life was an intellectual solitude. He was a mental hermit. Only in his own brain he found the liberty he loved. And yet the rabbis and the priests, the ignorant zealot and the cruel bigot, feeling that this quiet, thoughtful, modest man was in some way forging weapons to be used against the church, hated him with all their hearts.
He did not retaliate. He found excuses for their acts. Their ignorance, their malice, their misguided and revengeful zeal excited only pity in his breast. He injured no man. He did not live on alms. He was poor -- and yet, with the wealth of his brain, he enriched the world. On Sunday, February 21, 1677, Spinoza, one of the greatest and subtlest of metaphysicians -- one of the noblest and purest of human beings -- at the age of forty-four, passed tranquilly away; and notwithstanding the curse of the synagogue under which he had lived and most lovingly labored, death left upon his lips the smile of perfect peace.
William Shakespeare was the greatest genius of our world. He left to us the richest legacy of all the dead -- the treasures of the rarest soul that ever lived and loved and wrought of words the statues, pictures, robes and gems of thought.
As a matter of fact, there never sat on any throne a king, queen, or emperor who could have honored William Shakespeare.
Ignorant people are apt to overrate the value of what is called education. The sons of the poor, having suffered the privations of poverty, think of wealth as the mother of joy. On the other hand, the children of the rich, finding that gold does not produce happiness, are apt to underrate the value of wealth.
Nature, or Fate, or Chance prepared a stage for Shakespeare, and Shakespeare prepared a stage for Nature.
One of the effects of the world's awakening was Shakespeare. We account for this man as we do for the highest mountain, the greatest river, the most perfect gem.
Whenever nature produces a genius, the old mother holds him close to her heart and whispers secrets to his ears that others do not know.
Each brain is a kind of field where nature sows with careless hands the seeds of thought. Some brains are poor and barren fields, producing weeds and thorns, and some are like the tropic world where grow the palm and pine -- children of the sun and soil.
You read Shakespeare. What do you get out of Shakespeare? All that your brain is able to hold. It depends upon your brain. If you are great -- if you have been cultivated -- if the wings of your imagination have been spread -- if you have had great, free, and splendid thoughts -- if you have stood upon the edge of things -- if you have had the courage to meet all that can come -- you get an immensity from Shakespeare. If you have lived nobly -- if you have loved with every drop of your blood and every fibre of your being -- if you have suffered -- if you have enjoyed -- then you get an immensity from Shakespeare. But if you have lived a poor, little, mean, wasted, barren, weedy life -- you get very little from that immortal man.
So it is from every source in nature -- what you get depends upon what you are.
If man were incapable of suffering, the words right and wrong never could have been spoken. If man were destitute of imagination, the flower of pity never could have blossomed in his heart.
We suffer -- we cause others to suffer -- those that we love -- and of this fact conscience is born.
Love is the many colored flame that makes the fireside of the heart. It is the mingled spring and autumn -- the perfect climate of the soul.
It certainly is no proof that a man is inspired simply because he is right.
No one pretends that Shakespeare was inspired, and yet all the writers of the books of the Old Testament put together, could not have produced Hamlet.
He knew the brain and heart of man -- the theories, customs, superstitions, hopes, fears, hatreds, vices and virtues of the human race.
He knew the thrills and ecstasies of love, the savage joys of hatred and revenge. He heard the hiss of envy's snakes and watched the eagles of ambition soar. There was no hope that did not put its star above his head -- no fear he had not felt -- no joy that had not shed its sunshine on his face. He experienced the emotions of mankind. He was the intellectual spendthrift of the world. He gave with the generosity, the extravagance, of madness.
Read one play, and you are impressed with the idea that the wealth of the brain of a god has been exhausted -- that there are no more comparisons, no more passions to be expressed, no more definitions, no more philosophy, beauty, or sublimity to be put in words -- and yet, the next play opens as fresh as the dewy gates of another day.
The outstretched wings of his imagination filled the sky. He was the intellectual crown o' the earth.
He lived the life of all.
He was a citizen of Athens in the days of Pericles. He listened to the eager eloquence of the great orators, and sat upon the cliffs, and with the tragic poet heard "the multitudinous laughter of the sea." He saw Socrates thrust the spear of question through the shield and heart of falsehood. He was present when the great man drank hemlock, and met the night of death, tranquil as a star meets morning. He listened to the peripatetic philosophers, and was unpuzzled by the Sophists. He watched Phidias as he chisled shapeless stone to forms of love and awe.
He lived by the mysterious Nile, amid the vast and monstrous. He knew the very thought that wrought the form and features of the Sphinx. He heard great Memnon's morning song when marble lips were smitten by the sun. He laid him down with the embalmed and waiting dead, and felt within their dust the expectation of another life, mingled with cold and suffocating doubts -- the children born of long delay.
He walked the ways of mighty Rome, and saw great Cæsar with his legions in the field. He stood with vast and motley throngs and watched the triumphs given to victorious men, followed by uncrowned kings, the captured hosts, and all the spoils of ruthless war. He heard the shout that shook the Coliseum's roofless walls, when from the reeling gladiator's hand the short sword fell, while from his bosom gushed the stream of wasted life.
He lived the life of savage men. He trod the forests' silent depths, and in the desperate game of life or death he matched his thought against the instinct of the beast.
He knew all crimes and all regrets, all virtues and their rich rewards. He was victim and victor, pursuer and pursued, outcast and king. He heard the applause and curses of the world, and on his heart had fallen all the nights and noons of failure and success.
He knew the unspoken thoughts, the dumb desires, the wants and ways of beasts. He felt the crouching tiger's thrill, the terror of the ambushed prey, and with the eagles he had shared the ecstasy of flight and poise and swoop, and he had lain with sluggish serpents on the barren rocks uncoiling slowly in the heat of noon.
He sat beneath the bo-tree's contemplative shade, wrapped in Buddha's mighty thought, and dreamed all dreams that light, the alchemist, has wrought from dust and dew, and stored within the slumbrous poppy's subtle blood.
He knelt with awe and dread at every shrine -- he offered every sacrifice, and every prayer -- felt the consolation and the shuddering fear -- mocked and worshiped all the gods -- enjoyed all heaven and felt the pangs of every hell.
He lived all lives, and through his blood and brain there crept the shadow and the chill of every death, and his soul, like Mazeppa, was lashed naked to the wild horse of every fear and love and hate.
The Imagination had set a stage in Shakespeare's brain, whereon were set all scenes that lie between the morn of laughter and the night of tears, and where his players bodied forth the false and true, the joys and griefs, the careless shallows and the tragic deeps of universal life.
From Shakespeare's brain there poured a Niagara of gems spanned by Fancy's seven-hued arch. He was as many-sided as clouds are many-formed. To him giving was hoarding -- sowing was harvest -- and waste itself the source of wealth. Within his marvelous mind were the fruits of all thought past, the seeds of all to be. As a drop of dew contains the image of the earth and sky, so all there is of life was mirrored forth in Shakespeare's brain.
Shakespeare was an intellectual ocean, whose waves touched all the shores of thought; within which were all the tides and waves of destiny and will; over which swept all the storms of fate, ambition and revenge; upon which fell the gloom and darkness of despair and death and all the sunlight of content and love, and within which was the inverted sky lit with the eternal stars -- an intellectual ocean -- towards which all rivers ran, and from which now the isles and continents of thought receive their dew and rain.
The infidels of one age have often been the aureoled saints of the next.
The destroyers of the old are the creators of the new.
As time sweeps on the old passes away and the new in its turn becomes old.
There is in the intellectual world, as in the physical, decay and growth, and ever by the grave of buried age stand youth and joy.
The history of intellectual progress is written in the lives of infidels.
Political rights have been preserved by traitors, the liberty of mind by heretics.
To attack the king was treason; to dispute the priest was blasphemy.
A great man adds to the sum of knowledge, extends the horizon of thought, releases souls from the Bastille of fear, crosses unknown and mysterious seas, gives new islands and new continents to the domain of thought, new constellations to the firmament of mind. A great man does not seek applause or place; he seeks for truth; he seeks the road to happiness, and what he ascertains he gives to others.
A great man throws pearls before swine, and the swine are sometimes changed to men. If the great had always kept their pearls, vast multitudes would be barbarians now.
A great man is a torch in the darkness, a beacon in superstition's night, an inspiration and a prophecy.
Greatness is not the gift of majorities; it cannot be thrust upon any man; men cannot give it to another; they can give place and power, but not greatness.
The place does not make the man, nor the sceptre the king. Greatness is from within.
The great men are the heroes who have freed the bodies of men; they are the philosophers and thinkers who have given liberty to the soul; they are the poets who have transfigured the common and filled the lives of many millions with love and song.
They are the artists who have covered the bare walls of weary life with the triumphs of genius.
They are the heroes who have slain the monsters of ignorance and fear, who have outgazed the Gorgon and driven the cruel gods from their thrones.
They are the inventors, the discoverers, the great mechanics, the kings of the useful who have civilized this world.
At the head of this heroic army, foremost of all, stands Voltaire ...
Voltaire! a name that excites the admiration of men, the malignity of priests. Pronounce that name in the presence of a clergyman, and you will find that you have made a declaration of war. Pronounce that name, and from the face of the priest the mask of meekness will fall, and from the mouth of forgiveness will pour a Niagara of vituperation and calumny. And yet Voltaire was the greatest man of his century, and did more to free the human race than any other of the sons of men.
When Voltaire was born the church ruled and owned France. It was a period of almost universal corruption. The priests were mostly libertines, the judges cruel and venal. The royal palace was a house of prostitution. The nobles were heartless, proud, arrogant and cruel to the last degree. The common people were treated as beasts. It took the church a thousand years to bring about this happy condition of things.
If he had only adopted the creed of his time -- if he had asserted that a God of infinite power and mercy had created millions and billions of human beings to suffer eternal pain, and all for the sake of his glorious justice -- that he had given his power of attorney to a cunning and cruel Italian Pope, authorizing him to save the soul of his mistress and send honest wives to hell -- if he had given to the nostrils of this God the odor of burning flesh -- the incense of the fagot -- if he had filled his ears with the shrieks of the tortured -- the music of the rack, he would now be known as Saint Voltaire.
There is but one use for law, but one excuse for government -- the preservation of liberty -- to give to each man his own, to secure to the farmer what he produces from the soil, the mechanic what he invents and makes, to the artist what he creates, to the thinker the right to express his thoughts. Liberty is the breath of progress.
Voltaire approached the mythology of the Jews precisely as he did the mythology of the Greeks and Romans, or the mythology of the Chinese or the Iroquois Indians. There is nothing in this world too sacred to be investigated, to be understood. The philosopher does not hide. Secrecy is not the friend of truth. No man should be reverent at the expense of his reason. Nothing should be worshiped until the reason has been convinced that it is worthy of worship.
Against all miracles, against all holy superstition, against sacred mistakes, he shot the arrows of ridicule.
These arrows, winged by fancy, sharpened by wit, poisoned by truth, always reached the centre.
It is claimed by many that anything, the best and holiest, can be ridiculed. As a matter of fact, he who attempts to ridicule the truth, ridicules himself. He becomes the food of his own laughter.
The mind of man is many sided. Truth must be and is willing to be tested in every way, tested by all the senses.
But in what way can the absurdity of the "real presence" be answered, except by banter, by raillery, by ridicule, by persiflage? How are you going to convince a man who believes that when he swallows the sacred wafer he has eaten the entire Trinity, and that a priest drinking a drop of wine has devoured the Infinite? How are you to reason with a man who believes that if any of the sacred wafers are left over they should be put in a secure place, so that mice should not eat God?
What effect will logic have upon a religious gentleman who firmly believes that a God of infinite compassion sent two bears to tear thirty or forty children in pieces for laughing at a bald-headed prophet?
How are such people to be answered? How can they be brought to a sense of their absurdity? They must feel in their flesh the arrows of ridicule.
So Voltaire has been called a mocker.
Voltaire was the intellectual autocrat of his time. From his throne at the foot of the Alps he pointed the finger of scorn at every hypocrite in Europe. He was the pioneer of his century. He was the assassin of superstition. Through the shadows of faith and fable; through the darkness of myth and miracle; through the midnight of Christianity; through the blackness of bigotry; past cathedral and dungeon; past rack and stake; past altar and throne, he carried, with chivalric hands, the sacred torch of Reason.
For many centuries the theologians have taught that an unbeliever -- an infidel -- one who spoke or wrote against their creed, could not meet death with composure; that in his last moments God would fill his conscience with the serpents of remorse.
For a thousand years the clergy have manufactured the facts to fit this theory -- this infamous conception of the duty of man and the justice of God.
The theologians have insisted that crimes against man were, and are, as nothing compared with crimes against God.
Upon the death-bed subject the clergy grow eloquent. When describing the shudderings and shrieks of the dying unbeliever, their eyes glitter with delight.
It is a festival.
They are no longer men. They become hyenas. They dig open graves. They devour the dead.
It is a banquet.
Unsatisfied still, they paint the terrors of hell. They gaze at the souls of the infidels writhing in the coils of the worm that never dies. They see them in flames -- in oceans of fire -- in gulfs of pain -- in abysses of despair. They shout with joy. They applaud.
It is an auto da fé, presided over by God.
He tells you -- this Catholic [Frederic R. Coudert] -- that Voltaire was an exceedingly good Christian compared with me. Do you know I am glad that I have compelled a Catholic -- one who does not believe he has the right to express his honest thoughts -- to pay a compliment to Voltaire simply because he thought it was at my expense?
I have an almost infinite admiration for Voltaire; and when I hear that name pronounced, I think of a plume floating over a mailed knight -- I think of a man that rode to the beleaguered City of Catholicism and demanded a surrender -- I think of a great man who thrust the dagger of assassination into your Mother Church, and from that wound she will never recover.
He loads the dice against himself who scores a point against the right.
Absolute honesty is to the intellectual perception what light is to the eyes. Prejudice and passion cloud the mind. In each disputant should be blended the advocate and judge.
Whoever stands between a priest and his salary will find that he has committed the unpardonable sin commonly known as the sin against the Holy Ghost.
Twenty years after the death of Luther there were more Catholics than when he was born. And twenty years after the death of Voltaire there were millions less than when he was born.
Diderot took the ground that, if orthodox religion be true Christ was guilty of suicide. Having the power to defend himself he should have used it.
Of course it would not do for the church to allow a man to die in peace who had added to the intellectual wealth of the world. The moment Diderot was dead, Catholic priests began painting and recounting the horrors of his expiring moments. They described him as overcome with remorse, as insane with fear; and these falsehoods have been repeated by the Protestant world, and will probably be repeated by thousands of ministers after we are dead. The truth is, he had passed his threescore years and ten. He had lived for seventy-one years. He had eaten his supper. He had been conversing with his wife. He was reclining in his easy chair. His mind was at perfect rest. He had entered, without knowing it, the twilight of his last day. Above the horizon was the evening star, telling of sleep. The room grew still and the stillness was lulled by the murmur of the street. There were a few moments of perfect peace. The wife said, "He is asleep." She enjoyed his repose, and breathed softly that he might not be disturbed. The moments wore on, and still he slept. Lovingly, softly, at last she touched him. Yes, he was asleep. He had become a part of the eternal silence.
Thomas Paine was one of the intellectual heroes -- one of the men to whom we are indebted. His name is associated forever with the Great Republic. As long as free government exists he will be remembered, admired and honored.
He lived a long, laborious and useful life. The world is better for his having lived. For the sake of truth he accepted hatred and reproach for his portion. He ate the bitter bread of sorrow. His friends were untrue to him because he was true to himself, and true to them. He lost the respect of what is called society, but kept his own. His life is what the world calls failure and what history calls success.
If to love you fellow-men more than self is goodness, Thomas Paine was good.
If to be in advance of your time -- to be a pioneer in the direction of right -- is greatness, Thomas Paine was great.
If to avow your principles and discharge your duty in the presence of death is heroic, Thomas Paine was a hero.
I challenge the world to show that Thomas Paine ever wrote one line, one word in favor of tyranny -- in favor of immorality; one line, one word against what he believed to be for the highest and best interest of mankind; one line, one word against justice, charity, or liberty, and yet he has been pursued as though he had been a fiend from hell. His memory has been execrated as though he had murdered some Uriah for his wife; driven some Hagar into the desert to starve with his child upon her bosom; defiled his own daughters; ripped open with the sword the sweet bodies of loving and innocent women; advised one brother to assassinate another; kept a harem with seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines, or had persecuted Christians even unto strange cities.
He died almost alone. The moment he died Christians commenced manufacturing horrors for his death-bed. They had his chamber filled with devils rattling chains, and these ancient lies are annually certified to by the respectable Christians of the present day. The truth is, he died as he had lived. Some ministers were impolite enough to visit him against his will. Several of them he ordered from his room. A couple of Catholic priests, in all the meekness of hypocrisy, called that they might enjoy the agonies of a dying friend of man. Thomas Paine, rising in his bed, the few embers of expiring life blown into flame by the breath of indignation, had the goodness to curse them both. His physician, who seems to have been a meddling fool, just as the cold hand of death was touching the patriot's heart, whispered in the dull ear of the dying man: "Do you believe, or do you wish to believe, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?" And the reply was: "I have no wish to believe on that subject."
These were the last remembered words of Thomas Paine. He died as serenely as ever Christian passed away. He died in the full possession of his mind, and on the very brink and edge of death proclaimed the doctrines of his life.
Paine was the first man to write these words, "The United States of America." He was the first great champion of absolute separation from England. He was the first to urge the adoption of a Federal Constitution; and, more clearly than any other man of his time, he perceived the future greatness of this country.
The claim that Paine was the real author of the Declaration of Independence is much better founded. I am inclined to think that he actually wrote it; but whether this is true or not, every idea contained in it had been written by him long before. Certain it is, that Jefferson could not have written anything so manly, so striking, so comprehensive, so clear, so convincing, and so faultless in rhetoric and rhythm as the Declaration of Independence.
He has been blamed for his attack on Washington. The truth is, he was in prison in France. He had committed the crime of voting against the execution of the king. It was the grandest act of his life, but at that time to be merciful was criminal. Paine, being an American citizen, asked Washington, then President, to say a word to Robespierre in his behalf. Washington remained silent. In the calmness of power, the serenity of fortune, Washington the President, read the request of Paine, the prisoner, and with the complacency of assured fame, consigned to the wastebasket of forgetfulness the patriot's cry for help.
In this controversy, my sympathies are with the prisoner.
Paine did more to free the mind, to destroy the power of ministers and priests in the New World, than any other man. In order to answer his arguments, the churches found it necessary to attack his character. There was a general resort to falsehood. In trying to destroy the reputation of Paine, the churches have demoralized themselves. Nearly every minister has been a willing witness against the truth. Upon the grave of Thomas Paine, the churches of America have sacrificed their honor. The influence of the Hero author increases every day, and there are more copies of "The Age of Reason" sold in the United States, than of any work written in defense of the Christian religion. Hypocrisy, with its forked tongue, its envious and malignant heart, lies coiled upon the memory of Paine, ready to fasten its poisonous fangs in the reputation of any man who dares defend the great and generous dead.
To fight for yourself is natural -- to fight for others is grand; to fight for your country is noble -- to fight for the human race -- for the liberty of hand and brain -- is nobler still.
For many years religious journals and ministers have been circulating certain pretended accounts of the frightful agonies endured by Paine and Voltaire when dying; that these great men at the moment of death were terrified because they had given their honest opinions upon the subject of religion to their fellow-men. The imagination of the religious world has been taxed to the utmost in inventing absurd and infamous accounts of the last moments of these intellectual giants. Every Sunday school paper, thousands of idiotic tracts, and countless stupidities called sermons, have been filled with these calumnies.
While theologians most cheerfully admit that most murderers die without fear, they deny the possibility of any man who has expressed his disbelief in the inspiration of the Bible dying except in the agony of terror. These stories are used in revivals and in Sunday schools, and have long been considered of great value.
I am anxious that these slanders shall cease. I am desirous of seeing justice done, even at this late day, to the dead.
When Thomas Paine was dying, he was infested by fanatics -- by the snaky spies of bigotry. In the shadows of death were the unclean birds of prey waiting to tear with beak and claw the corpse of him who wrote the Rights of Man. And there lurking and crouching in the darkness were the jackals and hyenas of superstition ready to violate his grave.
After all, drinking is not as bad as lying. An honest drunkard is better than a calumniator of the dead.
To become drunk is a virtue compared with stealing a babe from the breast of its mother.
Drunkenness is one of the beatitudes, compared with editing a religious paper devoted to the defense of slavery upon the ground that it is a divine institution.
But suppose, for the sake of argument, that he [Paine] was poor and that he died a beggar, does that tend to show that the Bible is an inspired book and that Calvin did not burn Servetus? Do you really regard poverty as a crime? If Paine had died a millionaire, would you have accepted his religious opinions? If Paine had drunk nothing but cold water would you have repudiated the five cardinal points of Calvinism? Does an argument depend for its force upon the pecuniary condition of the person making it? As a matter of fact, most reformers -- most men and women of genius, have been acquainted with poverty. Beneath a covering of rags have been found some of the tenderest and bravest hearts.
Owing to the attitude of the churches for the last fifteen hundred years, truth-telling has not been a very lucrative business. As a rule, hypocrisy has worn the robes, and honesty the rags. That day is passing away. You cannot now answer the arguments of a man by pointing at holes in his coat. Thomas Paine attacked the church when it was powerful -- when it had what was called honors to bestow -- when it was the keeper of the public conscience -- when it was strong and cruel. The church waited till he was dead then attacked his reputation and his clothes.
Once upon a time a donkey kicked a lion. The lion was dead.
From the persistence with which the orthodox have charged for the last sixty-eight years that Thomas Paine recanted, and that when dying he was filled with remorse and fear; from the malignity of the attacks upon his personal character, I had concluded that there must be some evidence of some kind to support these charges. Even with my ideas of the average honor of believers in superstition -- the disciples of fear -- I did not quite believe that all these infamies rested solely upon poorly attested lies. I had charity enough to suppose that something had been said or done by Thomas Paine capable of being tortured into a foundation for these calumnies. And I was foolish enough to think that even you [Editor, New York Observer] would be willing to fairly examine the pretended evidence said to sustain these charges, and give your honest conclusion to the world. I supposed that you, being acquainted with the history of your country, felt under a certain obligation to Thomas Paine for the splendid services rendered by him in the darkest days of the Revolution. It was only reasonable to suppose that you were aware that in the midnight of Valley Forge the "Crisis," by Thomas Paine, was the first star that glittered in the wide horizon of despair. I took it for granted that you knew of the bold stand taken and the brave words spoken by Thomas Paine, in the French Convention, against the death of the king. I thought it probable that you, being an editor, had read the "Rights of Man"; that you knew that Thomas Paine was a champion of human liberty; that he was one of the founders and fathers of this Republic; that he was one of the foremost men of his age; that he had never written a word in favor of injustice; that he was a despiser of slavery; that he abhorred tyranny in all its forms; that he was in the widest and highest sense a friend of his race; that his head was as clear as his heart was good, and that he had the courage to speak his honest thought. Under these circumstances I had hoped that you would for the moment forget your religious prejudices and submit to the enlightened judgment of the world the evidence you had, or could obtain, affecting in any way the character of so great and so generous a man. This you have refused to do. In my judgment, you have mistaken the temper of even your own readers. A large majority of the religious people of this country have, to a considerable extent, outgrown the prejudices of their fathers. They are willing to know the truth and the whole truth, about the life and death of Thomas Paine. They will not thank you for having presented them the moss-covered, the maimed and distorted traditions of ignorance, prejudice, and credulity. By this course you will convince them not of the wickedness of Paine, but of your own unfairness.
What crime had Thomas Paine committed that he should have feared to die? The only answer you can give is, that he denied the inspiration of the Scriptures. If this is a crime, the civilized world is filled with criminals. The pioneers of human thought -- the intellectual leaders of the world -- the foremost men in every science -- the kings of literature and art -- those who stand in the front rank of investigation -- the men who are civilizing, elevating, instructing, and refining mankind, are to-day unbelievers in the dogma of inspiration. Upon this question, the intellect of Christendom agrees with the conclusions reached by the genius of Thomas Paine. Centuries ago a noise was made for the purpose of frightening mankind. Orthodoxy is the echo of that noise.
The man who now regards the Old Testament as in any sense a sacred or inspired book is, in my judgment, an intellectual and moral deformity. There is in it so much that is cruel, ignorant, and ferocious that it is to me a matter of amazement that it was ever thought to be the work of a most merciful deity.
Upon the question of inspiration Thomas Paine gave his honest opinion. Can it be that to give an honest opinion causes one to die in terror and despair? Have you in your writings been actuated by the fear of such a consequence? Why should it be taken for granted that Thomas Paine, who devoted his life to the sacred cause of freedom, should have been hissed at in the hour of death by the snakes of conscience, while editors of Presbyterian papers who defended slavery as a divine institution, and cheerfully justified the stealing of babes from the breasts of mothers, are supposed to have passed smilingly from earth to the embraces of angels? Why should you think that the heroic author of the "Rights of Man" should shudderingly dread to leave this "bank and shoal of time," while Calvin, dripping with the blood of Servetus, was anxious to be judged of God? Is it possible that the persecutors -- the instigators of the massacre of St. Bartholomew -- the inventors and users of thumb screws, and iron boots, and racks -- the burners and tearers of human flesh -- the stealers, whippers and enslavers of men -- the buyers and beaters of babes and mothers -- the founders of inquisitions -- the makers of chains, the builders of dungeons, the slanderers of the living and the calumniators of the dead, all died in the odor of sanctity, with white, forgiven hands folded upon the breasts of peace while the destroyers of prejudice -- the apostles of humanity -- the soldiers of liberty -- the breakers of fetters -- the creators of light -- died surrounded with the fierce hands of fear?
In your attempt to destroy the character of Thomas Paine you have failed, and have succeeded only in leaving a stain upon your own. You have written words as cruel, bitter and heartless as the creed of Calvin. Hereafter you will stand in the pillory of history as a defamer -- a calumniator of the dead. You will be known as the man who said that Thomas Paine, the "Author Hero," lived a drunken, cowardly and beastly life, and died a drunken and beastly death. These infamous words will be branded upon the forehead of your reputation. They will be remembered against you when all else you may have uttered shall have passed from the memory of men.
He who attempts to ridicule the truth, ridicules himself. He becomes the food of his own laughter.
There is nothing grander than to rescue from the leprosy of slander the reputation of a good and generous man.
At the age of seventy-three, death touched his tired heart. He dies in the land his genius defended -- under the flag he gave to the skies. Slander cannot touch him now -- hatred cannot reach him more. He sleeps in the sanctuary of the tomb, beneath the quiet of the stars.
A few more years -- a few more brave men -- a few more rays of light, and mankind will venerate the memory of him who said:
"Any system of Religion that shocks the mind of a child cannot be a true system;"
"The world is my Country, and to do good is my Religion."
Great men seem to be a part of the infinite -- brothers of the mountains and the seas.
Humboldt was one of these. He was one of those serene men, in some respects like our own Franklin, whose names have all the lustre of a star. He was one of the few, great enough to rise above the superstition and prejudice of his time, and to know that experience, observation, and reason are the only basis of knowledge.
He became one of the greatest of men in spite of having been born rich and noble -- in spite of position. I say in spite of these things, because wealth and position are generally the enemies of genius, and the destroyers of talent.
It is often said of this or that man, that he is a self-made man -- that he was born of the poorest and humblest parents, and that with every obstacle to overcome he became great. This is a mistake. Poverty is generally an advantage. Most of the intellectual giants of the world have been nursed at the sad and loving breast of poverty. Most of those who have climbed highest on the shining ladder of fame commenced at the lowest round. They were reared in the straw-thatched cottages of Europe; in the log-houses of America; in the factories of the great cities; in the midst of toil; in the smoke and din of labor, and on the verge of want. They were rocked by the feet of mothers whose hands, at the same time, were busy with the needle or the wheel.
It is hard for the rich to resist the thousand allurements of pleasure, and so l say, that Humboldt, in spite of having been born to wealth and high social position, became truly and grandly great.
In the antiquated and romantic castle of Tegel, by the side of the pine forest, on the shore of the charming lake, near the beautiful city of Berlin, the great Humboldt, ... was born, and there he was educated after the method suggested by Rousseau, -- Campe, the philologist and critic, and the intellectual Kunth being his tutors. There he received the impressions that determined his career; there the great idea that the universe is governed by law, took possession of his mind, and there he dedicated his life to the demonstration of this sublime truth.
He came to the conclusion that the source of man's unhappiness is his ignorance of nature.
He longed to give a physical description of the universe -- a grand picture of nature; to account for all phenomena; to discover the laws governing the world; to do away with that splendid delusion called special providence, and to establish the fact that the universe is governed by law.
Origin and destiny were questions with which he had nothing to do.
His surroundings made him what he was.
In accordance with a law not fully comprehended, he was a production of his time.
Great men do not live alone; they are surrounded by the great; they are the instruments used to accomplish the tendencies of their generation; they fulfill the prophecies of their age.
No wonder that under these influences Humboldt formed the great purpose of presenting to the world a picture of Nature, in order that men might, for the first time, behold the face of their Mother.
I have seen a picture of the old man, sitting upon a mountain side -- above him the eternal snow -- below, the smiling valley of the tropics, filled with vine and palm; his chin upon his breast, his eyes deep, thoughtful and calm -- his forehead majestic -- grander than the mountain upon which he sat -- crowned with the snow of his whitened hair, he looked the intellectual autocrat of this world.
Not satisfied with his discoveries in America, he crossed the steppes of Asia, the wastes of Siberia, the great Ural range, adding to the knowledge of mankind at every step. His energy acknowledged no obstacle, his life knew no leisure; every day was filled with labor and with thought.
He was one of the apostles of science, and he served his divine master with a self-sacrificing zeal that knew no abatement; with an ardor that constantly increased, and with a devotion unwavering and constant as the polar star.
Whoever differs with the multitude, especially with a led multitude -- that is to say, with a multitude of taggers -- will find out from their leaders that he has committed an unpardonable sin. It is a crime to travel a road of your own, especially if you put up guide-boards for the information of others.
A man with a false diamond shuns the society of lapidaries, and it is upon this principle that superstition abhors science.
In all ages the people have honored those who dishonored them. They have worshiped their destroyers; they have canonized the most gigantic liars, and buried the great thieves in marble and gold. Under the loftiest monuments sleeps the dust of murder.
Imposture has always worn a crown.
Humboldt adopted none of the soul-shrinking creeds of his day; wasted none of his time in the stupidities, inanities and contradictions of theological metaphysics; he did not endeavor to harmonize the astronomy and geology of a barbarous people with the science of the nineteenth century. Never, for one moment, did he abandon the sublime standard of truth; he investigated, he studied, he thought, he separated the gold from the dross in the crucible of his grand brain. He was never found on his knees before the altar of superstition. He stood erect by the grand tranquil column of Reason. He was an admirer, a lover, an adorer of Nature, and at the age of ninety, bowed by the weight of nearly a century, covered with the insignia of honor, loved by a nation, respected by a world, with kings for his servants, he laid his weary head upon her bosom -- upon the bosom of the universal Mother -- and with her loving arms around him, sank into that slumber called Death.
History added another name to the starry scroll of the immortals.
The world is his monument; upon the eternal granite of her hills he inscribed his name, and there upon everlasting stone his genius wrote this, the sublimest of truths:
"The Universe is Governed by Law."
|Though Scotland boasts a thousand names,
Of patriot, king and peer,
The noblest, grandest of them all,
Was loved and cradled here.
Here lived the gentle peasant-prince,
The loving cotter-king,
Compared with whom the greatest lord
Is but a titled thing.
'Tis but a cot roofed in with straw,
Within this hallowed hut I feel
Abraham Lincoln was, in my judgment, in many respects, the grandest man ever President of the United States. Upon his monument these words should be written: "Here sleeps the only man in the history of the world, who, having been clothed with almost absolute power, never abused it, except upon the side of mercy."
Great pains have been taken to show that Mr. Lincoln believed in, and worshiped the one true God. This by many is held to have been his greatest virtue, the foundation of his character, and yet, the God he worshiped, the God to whom he prayed, allowed him to be assassinated.
Is it possible that God will not protect his friends?
This century will be called Darwin's century. He was one of the greatest men who ever touched this globe. He has explained more of the phenomena of life than all of the religious teachers. Write the name of Charles Darwin on the one hand and the name of every theologian who ever lived on the other, and from that name has come more light to the world than from all of those. His doctrine of evolution, his doctrine of the survival of the fittest, his doctrine of the origin of species, has removed in every thinking mind the last vestige of orthodox Christianity. He has not only stated, but he has demonstrated, that the inspired writer knew nothing of this world, nothing of the origin of man, nothing of geology, nothing of astronomy, nothing of nature; that the Bible is a book written by ignorance -- at the instigation of fear. Think of the men who replied to him. Only a few years ago there was no person too ignorant to successfully answer Charles Darwin; and the more ignorant he was the more cheerfully he undertook the task. He was held up to the ridicule, the scorn and contempt of the Christian world, and yet when he died, England was proud to put his dust with that of her noblest and her grandest. Charles Darwin conquered the intellectual world, and his doctrines are now accepted facts.
The church teaches that man was created perfect, and that for six thousand years he has degenerated. Darwin demonstrated the falsity of this dogma. He shows that man has for thousands of ages steadily advanced; that the Garden of Eden is an ignorant myth; that the doctrine of original sin has no foundation in fact; that the atonement is an absurdity; that the serpent did not tempt, and that man did not "fall."
Charles Darwin destroyed the foundation of orthodox Christianity. There is nothing left but faith in what we know could not and did not happen. Religion and science are enemies. One is a superstition; the other is a fact. One rests upon the false, the other upon the true. One is the result of fear and faith, the other of investigation and reason.
Every fact is an enemy of the church. Every fact is a heretic. Every demonstration is an infidel. Everything that ever really happened testifies against the supernatural.
Charles Darwin was one of the greatest and purest of men, -- as free from prejudice as the mariner's compass, -- desiring only to find amid the mists and clouds of ignorance the star of truth. No man ever exerted a greater influence on the intellectual world.
Let us be honest. Did all the priests of Rome increase the mental wealth of man as much as Bruno? Did all the priests of France do as great a work for the civilization of the world as Diderot and Voltaire? Did all the ministers of Scotland add as much to the sum of human knowledge as David Hume? Have all the clergymen, monks, friars, ministers, priests, bishops, cardinals and popes, from the day of Pentecost to the last election, done as much for human liberty as Thomas Paine? -- as much for science as Charles Darwin?
What would the world be if infidels had never been?
The infidels have been the brave and thoughtful men; the flower of all the world; the pioneers and heralds of the blessed day of liberty and love; the generous spirits of the unworthy past; the seers and prophets of our race; the great chivalric souls, proud victors on the battlefields of thought, the creditors of all the years to be.
Infidel vs. Christian
Let us compare these Infidels with the Christians of their time:
Compare Julian with Constantine, -- the murderer of his wife, -- the murderer of his son, -- and who established Christianity with the same sword he had wet with their blood. Compare him with all the Christian emperors -- with all the robbers and murderers and thieves -- the parricides and fratricides and matricides that ever wore the imperial purple on the banks of the Tiber or the shores of the Bosphorus.
Let us compare Bruno with the Christians who burned him; and we will compare Spinoza, Voltaire, Diderot, Hume, Jefferson, Paine -- with the men who it is claimed have been the visible representatives of God.
Let it be remembered that the popes have committed every crime of which human nature is capable, and that not one of them was the friend of intellectual liberty -- that not one of them ever shed one ray of light.
I have infinite respect for the inventors, the thinkers, the discoverers, and above all, for the unknown millions who have, without the hope of fame, lived and labored for the ones they loved.
The heretics have not thought and suffered and died in vain. Every heretic has been, and is, a ray of light. Not in vain did Voltaire, that great man, point from the foot of the Alps the finger of scorn at every hypocrite in Europe. Not in vain were the splendid utterances of the infidels, while beyond all price are the discoveries of science.
The church has impeded, but it has not and it cannot stop the onward march of the human race. Heresy cannot be burned, nor imprisoned, nor starved. It laughs at presbyteries and synods, at ecumenical councils and the impotent thunders of Sinai. Heresy is the eternal dawn, the morning star, the glittering herald of the day. Heresy is the last and best thought. It is the perpetual New World, the unknown sea, toward which the brave all sail. It is the eternal horizon of progress.
I Thank Them All
Whom shall we thank? Standing here at the close of the nineteenth century -- amid the trophies of thought -- the triumphs of genius -- here under the flag of the Great Republic -- knowing something of the history of man -- here on this day that has been set apart for thanksgiving, I most reverently thank the good men, the good women of the past, I thank the kind fathers, the loving mothers of the savage days. I thank the father who spoke the first gentle word, the mother who first smiled upon her babe. I thank the first true friend. I thank the savages who hunted and fished that they and their babes might live. I thank those who cultivated the ground and changed the forests into farms -- those who built rude homes and watched the faces of their happy children in the glow of fireside flames -- those who domesticated horses, cattle and sheep -- those who invented wheels and looms and taught us to spin and weave -- those who by cultivation changed wild grasses into wheat and corn, changed bitter things to fruit, and worthless weeds to flowers, that sowed within our souls the seeds of art. I thank the poets of the dawn -- the tellers of legends -- the makers of myths -- the singers of joy and grief, of hope and love. I thank the artists who chiseled forms in stone and wrought with light and shade the face of man. I thank the philosophers, the thinkers, who taught us how to use our minds in the great search for truth. I thank the astronomers who explored the heavens, told us the secrets of the stars, the glories of the constellations -- the geologists who found the story of the world in fossil forms, in memoranda kept in ancient rocks, in lines written by waves, by frost and fire -- the anatomists who sought in muscle, nerve and bone for all the mysteries of life -- the chemists who unraveled Nature's work that they might learn her art -- the physicians who have laid the hand of science on the brow of pain, the hand whose magic touch restores -- the surgeons who have defeated Nature's self and forced her to preserve the lives of those she labored to destroy.
I thank the inventors, the discoverers, the thinkers. I thank Columbus and Magellan. I thank Galileo, and Copernicus, and Kepler, and Descartes, and Newton, and Laplace. I thank Locke, and Hume, and Bacon, and Kant, and Fichte, and Leibnitz, and Goethe. I thank Fulton, and Watt, and Volta, and Galvani, and Franklin, and Morse, who made lightning the messenger of man.
I thank the discoverers of chloroform and ether, the two angels who give to their beloved sleep, and wrap the throbbing brain in the soft robes of dreams. I thank the great inventors -- those who gave us movable type and the press, by means of which great thoughts and all discovered facts are made immortal -- the inventors of engines, of the great ships, of the railways, the cables and telegraphs. I thank the great mechanics, the workers in iron and steel, in wood and stone. I thank the inventors and makers of the numberless things of use and luxury.
I thank the industrious men, the loving mothers, the useful women. They are the benefactors of our race.
The inventor of pins did a thousand times more good than all the popes and cardinals, the bishops and priests -- than all the clergymen and parsons, exhorters and theologians that ever lived.
The inventor of matches did more for the comfort and convenience of mankind than all the founders of religions and the makers of all creeds -- than all malicious monks and selfish saints.
I thank the honest men and women who have expressed their sincere thoughts, who have been true to themselves and have preserved the veracity of their souls.
I thank the thinkers of Greece and Rome, Zeno and Epicurus, Cicero and Lucretius. I thank Bruno, the bravest, and Spinoza, the subtlest of men.
I thank Voltaire, whose thought lighted a flame in the brain of man, unlocked the doors of superstition's cells and gave liberty to many millions of his fellow-men. Voltaire -- a name that sheds light. Voltaire -- a star that superstition's darkness cannot quench.
I thank the great poets -- the dramatists. I thank Homer and Aeschylus, and I thank Shakespeare above them all. I thank Burns for the heart-throbs he changed into songs, for his lyrics of flame. I thank Shelley for his Skylark, Keats for his Grecian Urn and Byron for his Prisoner of Chillon. I thank the great novelists. I thank the great sculptors. I thank the unknown man who moulded and chiseled the Venus de Milo. I thank the great painters. I thank Rembrandt and Corot. I thank all who have adorned, enriched and ennobled life -- all who have created the great, the noble, the heroic and artistic ideals.
I thank the statesmen who have preserved the rights of man. I thank Paine whose genius sowed the seeds of independence in the hearts of '76. I thank Jefferson whose mighty words for liberty have made the circuit of the globe. I thank the founders, the defenders, the saviors of the Republic. I thank Ericsson, the greatest mechanic of his century, for the Monitor. I thank Lincoln for the Proclamation. I thank Grant for his victories and the vast host that fought for the right, -- for the freedom of man. I thank them all -- the living and the dead.
I thank the great scientists -- those who have reached the foundation, the bedrock -- who have built upon facts -- the great scientists, in whose presence theologians look silly and feel malicious.
The scientists never persecuted, never imprisoned their fellow-men. They forged no chains, built no dungeons, erected no scaffolds -- tore no flesh with red hot pincers -- dislocated no joints on racks -- crushed no bones in iron boots -- extinguished no eyes -- tore out no tongues and lighted no fagots. They did not pretend to be inspired -- did not claim to be prophets or saints or to have been born again. They were only intelligent and honest men. They did not appeal to force or fear. They did not regard men as slaves to be ruled by torture, by lash and chain, nor as children to be cheated with illusions, rocked in the cradle of an idiot creed and soothed by a lullaby of lies.
They did not wound -- they healed. They did not kill -- they lengthened life. They did not enslave -- they broke the chains and made men free. They sowed the seeds of knowledge, and many millions have reaped, are reaping, and will reap the harvest of joy.
I thank Humboldt and Helmholtz and Haeckel and Buchner. I thank Lamarck and Darwin -- Darwin who revolutionized the thought of the intellectual world. I thank Huxley and Spencer and Tyndall. I thank Draper, Lecky and Buckle. I thank the scientists one and all.
I thank the heroes, the destroyers of prejudice and fear -- the dethroners of savage gods -- the extinguishers of hate's eternal fire -- the heroes, the breakers of chains -- the founders of free states -- the makers of just laws -- the heroes who fought and fell on countless fields -- the heroes whose dungeons became shrines -- the heroes whose blood made scaffolds sacred -- the heroes, the apostles of reason, the disciples of truth, the soldiers of freedom -- the heroes who held high the holy torch and filled the world with light.
I thank Crompton and Arkwright, from whose brains leaped the looms and spindels that clothe the world.
I thank the brave men with brave thoughts. They are the Atlases upon whose broad and mighty shoulders rests the grand fabric of civilization. They are the men who have broken, and are still breaking, the chains of superstition. They are the Titans who carried Olympus by assault, and who will soon stand victors upon Sinai's crags.
With all my heart I thank them all.