1. “For a species increases or decreases in numbers, widens or contracts its habitat, migrates or remains stationary, continues an old mode of life or falls into a new one, under the combined influence of its intrinsic nature and the environing actions, inorganic and organic.
“Beginning with the extrinsic factors, we see that from the outset several kinds of them are variously operative. They need but barely ennumerating. We have climate, hot, cold, or temperate, moist or dry, constant or variable. We have surface, much or little of which is available, and the available part of which is fertile in greater or less degree; and we have configuration of surface, as uniform or multiform. . . . On these sets of conditions, inorganic and organic, characterizing the environment, primarily depends the possibility of social evolution.”— Spencer, “Principles of Sociology,” vol. 1, p. 10.
2. “These considerations clearly prove that of the two primary causes of civilization, the fertility of the soil is the one which in the ancient world exercised most influence. But in European civilization, the other great cause, that is to say, climate, has been the most powerful.
“Owing to circumstances which I shall presently state, the only progress which is really effective depends, not upon the bounty of nature, but upon the energy of man. Therefore it is, that the civilization of Europe, which, in its earliest stage, was governed by climate, has shown a capacity of development unknown to those civilizations which were originated by soil.”— Buckle, “History of Civilization,” vol. 1, p. 36 — 37.*
* I wish to state here that I had never read the above from Buckle, nor had I seen anywhere a statement so like my own, at the time mine was written. I read this for the first time while reading the proofs of this chapter. So much for what may appear plagiarism. — H. H. Q,
1. “Napoleon himself was indifferent to Christianity, but he saw that the clergy were friends of despotism.”— Buckle.
2. “Thus it is that a careful survey of history will prove that the Reformation made the most progress not in those countries where the people were most enlightened, but in those countries where, from political causes, the clergy were least able to withstand the people.”— Buckle.
3. “Christian civilization in the twentieth century of its existence, degrades its women to labor fit only for beasts of the field; harnessing them with dogs to do the most menial labors; it drags them below even this, holding their womanhood up to sale, putting both Church and State sanction upon their moral death; which, in some places, as in the city of Berlin, so far recognizes the sale of women’s bodies for the vilest purposes as part of the Christian religion, that license for this life is refused until they have partaken of the Sacrament; and demands of the ‘10,000 licensed women of the town’ of the city of Hamburg, certificates showing that they regularly attend church and also partake of the sacrament.”— Gage.
Even a lower depth than this is reached in England, France, Italy, Switzerland, and Germany, and nearly every country of Europe, says the same writer, “a system of morality which declares ‘the necessity’ of woman’s degradation, and annually sends tens of thousands down to a death from which society grants no resurrection.”— Gage.
1. “Sappho flourished b. c. 600, and a little later; and so highly did Plato value her intellectual, as well as her imaginative endowments, that he assigned her the honors of sage as well as poet; and familiarly entitled her the ‘tenth muse’"— Buckle,
2. “Wilkinson says among no ancient people had women such influence and liberty as among the ancient Egyptians.”— Buckle.
3. “The Americans have in the treatment of women fallen below, not only their own democratic principles, but the practice of some parts of the Old World.”— Harriet Martineau.
4. “Mr. F. Newman denies that Christianity has improved the position of women; and he observes that, ‘with Paul, the sole reason for marriage is, that a man may, without sin, vent his sensual desires. He teaches that, but for this object, it would be better not to marry;’ and he takes no notice of the social pleasures of marriage. Newman says: ‘In short, only in countries where Germanic sentiment has taken root do we see marks of any elevation of the female sex superior to that of Pagan antiquity.’"— Buckle.
5. “Female voices are never heard in the Russian churches; their place is supplied by boys; women do not yet stand high enough in the estimation of the churches. . . . to be permitted to sing the praises of God in the presence of men.”— Kohl.
6. “Christianity diminished the influence of women.”— Neander, “Hist, of the Church.”
Within the reign of the present sovereign Mrs. Gage tells us of a young girl being ordered by the Petty Sessions Bench back to the “service” of a landlord, from whom she had run away because such service meant the sacrifice of her honor. She refused to go and was put in jail.
1. “Women were taught by the Church and State alike, that the Feudal Lord or Seigneur had a right to them, not only against themselves, but as against any claim of husband or father. The law known as Marchetta, or Marquette, compelled newly-married women to a most dishonorable servitude. They were regarded as the rightful prey of the Feudal Lord from one to three days after their marriage, and from this custom, the oldest son of the serf was held as the son of the lord, ‘as perchance it was he who begat him.’ From this nefarious degradation of woman, the custom of Borough–English arose, in which the youngest son became the heir. . . . France, Germany, Prussia, England, Scotland, and all Christian countries where feudalism existed, held to the enforcement of Marquette. The lord deemed this right as fully his as he did the claim to half the crops of the land, or to half the wool of the sheep. More than one reign of terror arose in France from the enforcement of this law, and the uprisings of the peasantry over Europe during the twelfth century, and the fierce Jacquerie, or Peasant Wars, of the fourteenth century in France owed their origin, among other causes, to the enforcement of these claims by the lords upon the newly-married wife. The edicts of Marly transplanted that claim to America when Canada was under the control of France. To persons not conversant with the history of feudalism, and of the Church for the first fifteen hundred years of its existence, it will seem impossible that such foulness could ever have been part of Christian civilization. That the crimes they have been trained to consider the worst forms of heathendom could have existed in Christian Europe, upheld by both Church and State for more than a thousand five hundred years, will strike most people with incredulity. Such, however, is the truth; we can but admit well-attested facts of history, how severe a blow soever they strike our preconceived beliefs.
“Marquette was claimed by the Lords Spiritual,* as well as by the Lords Temporal. The Church indeed, was the bulwark of this base feudal claim. With the power of penance and excommunication in its grasp, this demand could neither have originated nor been sustained unless sanctioned by the Church. . . . These customs of feudalism were the customs of Christianity during many centuries. (One of the Earls of Crawford, known as the ‘Earl Brant,’ in the sixteenth century, was probably among the last who openly claimed by right the literal translation of droit de Jambage.) These infamous outrages upon woman were enforced under Christian law by both Church and State.
* “In days to come people will be slow to believe that the law among Christian nations went beyond anything decreed concerning the olden slavery; that it wrote down as an actual right the most grievous outrage that could ever wound man’s heart. The Lords Spiritual (clergy) had this right no less than the Lords Temporal. The parson, being a lord, expressly claimed the first fruits of the bride, but was willing to sell his right to the husband. The Courts of Berne openly maintain that this right grew up naturally.”— Michelet, “La Sorcerie,” p.62
“The degradation of the husband at this infringement of the lord spiritual and temporal upon his marital right, has been pictured by many writers, but history has been quite silent upon the despair and shame of the wife. No hope appeared for woman anywhere. The Church. . . . dragged her to the lowest depths, through the vileness of its priestly customs. . . . We who talk of the burning of wives upon the funeral pyres of husbands in India, may well turn our eyes to the records of Christian countries.”— Matilda Joslyn Gage in “Woman, Church, and State.”
2. From this point Mrs. Gage calls attention to the various efforts to throw off this degrading custom. The women held meetings at night, and among other things travestied the celebration of Mass and other Church customs; but the end and aim of these meetings being a protest and rebellion against Marquette, the clergy called those who took part in them “witches;"* and then and there began the persecution which the Church carried on against women under this disguise (under Catholic and Protestant rule alike), which extended down to the latter part of the last century, with its list of horrors and indignities extending over all Christian countries and blossoming in all their vigor in our own eastern States, upheld by Luther, John Wesley, and Baxter, who unfortunately had not at that time entered into the everlasting rest of the Saints. And, true to these noble and wise leaders, the Churches which they founded are today expressing the same sentiments (in principle) in regard to the honor and dignity and position of woman. The arguments of the Rev. Dr. Craven, the prosecutor in the famous Presbyterian trial of 1876, which are given by Mrs. Gage, together with numerous other similar ones, fully establish the fact that woman is to the Church what she always was — so far as secular law will permit. And numerous instances (such as the Buckley exhibition at the last Methodist Conference, in which he was sustained by the Conference) prove that they have learned nothing since 1876.
* “There are few superstitions which have been so universal as a belief in witchcraft. The severe theology of paganism despised the wretched superstition, which has been greedily believed by millions of Christians.”— Buckle.
3. I wish I might copy here the sermon to women which the Rev. Knox–Little, the well-known High–Church clergyman of England, preached when in this country in 1880, in which he said, “There is no crime which a man can commit which justifies his wife in leaving him. It is her duty to subject herself to him always, and no crime that he can commit can justify her lack of obedience.” Although a little balder in statement than are most utterances of orthodox clergymen in this age, yet in sentiment and in the reason given for it the echo of “Amen” comes from every pulpit where a believer in original sin, vicarious atonement, or the inspiration of the Bible has a representative and a voice. If self-respect or honor is ever to be the lot of woman, it will not be until her foot is on the neck of orthodoxy, and when the Bible ranks where it belongs in the field of literature.
1. “The French government, about the middle of the eighteenth century, seems to have reached the maturity of its wickedness, allowing if not instigating religious persecutions of so infamous a nature that they would not be believed if they were not attested by documents of the courts in which the sentences were passed.”— Buckle.
2. Of Louis XV., the eminently Christian king of France, Buckle says: “His harem cost more than 100,000,000 francs, and was composed of little girls. He was constantly drunk,” and “turned out his own illegitimate children to prostitute themselves.”
3. “It will hardly be believed that, when sulphuric ether was first used to lessen the pains of childbirth, it was objected to as ‘a profane attempt to abrogate the primeval curse pronounced upon woman. . . . ’ The injury which the theological principle has done to the world is immense. It has prevented men from studying the laws of nature.”— Buckle.
1. “The narrow range of their sympathies [the clergy’s], and the intellectual servitude they have accepted, render them peculiarly unfitted for the office of educating the young, which they so persistently claim, and which, to the great misfortune of the world, they were long permitted to monopolize. . . . The almost complete omission from female education of those studies which most discipline and strengthen the intellect, increases the difference, while at the same time it has been usually made a main object to imbue them with a passionate faith in traditional opinions, and to preserve them from all contact with opposing views. But contracted knowledge and imperfect sympathy are not the sole fruits of this education. It has always been the peculiarity of a certain kind of theological teaching, that it -inverts all the normal principles of judgment and absolutely destroys intellectual diffidence. On other subjects we find if not a respect for honest conviction, at least some sense of the amount of knowledge that is requisite to entitle men to express an opinion on grave controversies. A complete ignorance of the subject-matter of a dispute restrains the confidence of dogmatism; and an ignorant person who is aware that, by much reading and thinking in spheres of which he has himself no knowledge, his educated neighbor has modified or rejected opinions which that ignorant person had been taught, will, at least if he is a man of sense or modesty, abstain from compassionating the benighted condition of his more instructed friend. But on theological questions this has never been so.
“Unfaltering belief being taught as the first of duties, and all doubt being usually stigmatized as criminal or damnable, a state of mind is formed to which we find no parallel in other fields. Many men and most women, though completely ignorant of the very rudiments of biblical criticism, historical research, or scientific discoveries, though they have never read a single page, or Understood a single proposition of the writings of those whom they condemn, and have absolutely no rational knowledge either of the arguments by which their faith is defended, or of those by which it has been impugned, will nevertheless adjudicate with the utmost confidence upon every polemical question, denounce, hate, pity, or pray for the conversion of all who dissent from what they have been taught, assume, as a matter beyond the faintest possibility of doubt, that the opinions they have received without inquiry must be true, and that the opinions which others have arrived at by inquiry must be false, and make it a main object of their lives to assail what they call heresy in every way in their power, except by examining the grounds on which it rests. It is possible that the great majority of voices that swell the clamor against every book which is regarded as heretical, are the voices of those who would deem it criminal even to open that book, or to enter into any real, searching, and impartial investigation of the subject to which it relates. Innumerable pulpits support this tone of thought, and represent, with a fervid rhetoric well fitted to excite the nerves and imaginations of women, the deplorable condition of all who deviate from a certain type of opinions or emotions; a blind propagandism or a secret wretchedness penetrates into countless households, poisoning the peace of families, chilling the mental confidence of husband and wife, adding immeasurably to the difficulties which every searcher into truth has to encounter, and diffusing far and wide intellectual timidity, disingenuousness, and hypocrisy.”— Lecky.
2. “The clergy, with a few honorable exceptions, have in all modern countries been the avowed enemies of the diffusion of knowledge, the danger of which to their own profession they, by a certain instinct, seem always to have perceived.”— Buckle.
3. “In the fourth century there arose monachism, and in, the sixth century the Christians succeeded in cutting off the last ray of knowledge, and shutting up the schools of Greece. Then followed a long period of theology, ignorance, and vice.”— Puckle.
4. “Contempt for human sciences was one of the first features of Christianity. It had to avenge itself of the outrages of philosophy; it feared that spirit of investigation and doubt, that confidence of man in his own reason, the pest alike of all religious creeds. The light of the natural sciences was ever odious to it, and was ever regarded with a suspicious eye, as being a dangerous enemy to the success of miracles; and there is no religion that does not oblige its sectaries to follow some physical absurdities. The triumph of Christianity was thus the final signal of the entire decline both of the sciences and of philosophy.”—“Progress of the Human Mind,” Condorcet.
“Accordingly it ought not to astonish us that Christianity, though unable in the sequel to prevent their reappearance in splendor after the invention of printing, was at this period sufficiently powerful to accomplish their ruin.”— Ibid.
“In the disastrous epoch at which we are now arrived, we shall see the human mind rapidly descending from the height to which it had raised itself . . . Everywhere was corruption, cruelty, and perfidy. . . . Theological reveries, superstitions, delusions, are become the sole genius of man, religious intolerance his only morality; and Europe, crushed between sacerdotal tyranny and military despotism, awaits in blood and in tears the moment when the revival of light shall restore it to liberty, to humanity, and to virtue. . . . The priests held human learning in contempt. . . . Fanatic armies laid waste the provinces. Executioners, under the guidance of legates and priests, put to death those whom the soldiers had spared. A tribunal of monks was established, with power of condemning to the stake whoever should be suspected of making use of his reason. . . . All sects, all governments, every species of authority, inimical as they were to each other in every point else, seemed to be of accord in granting no quarter to the exercise of reason. . . . Meanwhile education, being everywhere subjected [to the clergy], had corrupted everywhere the general understanding, by clogging the reason of children with the weight of the religious prejudices of their country . . . In the eighth century an ignorant pope had persecuted a deacon for contending that the earth was round, in opposition to the opinion of the rhetorical Saint Austin. In the fifteenth, the ignorance of another pope, much more inexcusable, delivered Galileo into the hands of the inquisition, accused of having proved the diurnal and annual motion of the earth. The greatest genius that modern Italy has given to the sciences, overwhelmed with age and infirmities, was obliged to purchase his release from punishment and from prison, by asking pardon of God for having taught men better to understand his works.”— Ibid.
1. Fenelon, a celebrated French clergyman and writer of the seventeenth century, discouraged the acquisition of knowledge by women. — See Hallam’s “Lit. of Europe.”
2. “Perhaps it is to the spirit of Puritanism that we owe the little influence of women, and the consequent inferiority of their education.”— Buckle.
3. “In England (1840) a distrust and contempt for reason prevails amongst religious circles to a wide extent; many Christians think it almost a matter of duty to decry the human faculties as poor, mean, and almost worthless; and thus seek to exalt piety at the expense of intelligence.”— Morell’s “Hist. of Speculative Phil.”
4. “That women are more deductive than men, because they think quicker than men, is a proposition which some people will not relish, and yet it may be proved in a variety of ways. Indeed nothing could prevent its being universally admitted except the fact that the remarkable rapidity with which women think is obscured by that miserable, that contemptible, that preposterous system, called their education, in which valuable things are carefully kept from them, and trifling things carefully taught to them, until their fine and nimble minds are too often irretrievably injured.”— Buckle.
1. “The Roman [Pagan] religion was essentially domestic, and it was a main object of the legislator to surround marriage with every circumstance of dignity and solemnity. Monogamy was, from the earliest times, strictly enjoined, and it was one of the great benefits that have resulted from the expansion of Roman power, that it made this type dominant in Europe. In the legends of early Rome we have ample evidence both of the high moral estimate of women, and of their prominence in Roman life. The tragedies of Lucretia and of Virginia display a delicacy of honor, a sense of the supreme excellence of unsullied purity, which no Christian nation could surpass.”— Lecky, “European Morals,” Vol. 1, p. 316.
2. “Marriage [under Christian rule] was viewed in its coarsest and most degraded form. The notion of its impurity took many forms, and exercised for some centuries an extremely wide influence over the Church.”— Ibid., p. 343.
1. “We are continually told that civilization and Christianity have restored to the woman her just rights. Meanwhile the wife is the actual bond-servant of her husband; no less so, as far as legal obligation goes, than slaves commonly so called. She vows a lifelong obedience to him at the altar, and is held to it all through her life by law. Casuists may say that the obligation of obedience stops short of participation in crime, but it certainly extends to everything else. She can do no act whatever but by his permission, at least tacit. She can acquire no property but for him; the instant it becomes hers, even if by inheritance, it becomes ipso facto his. In this respect the wife’s position under the common law of England is worse than that of slaves in the laws of many countries; by the Roman law, for example, a slave might have peculium, which, to a certain extent, the law guaranteed him for his exclusive use.”— Mill.
2. Speaking of self-worship which leads to brutality toward others, Mill says: “Christianity will never practically teach it” (the equality of human beings) “while it sanctions institutions grounded on an arbitrary preference for one human being over another.”
“The morality of the first ages rested on the obligation to submit to power; that of the ages next following, on the right of the weak to the forbearance and protection of the strong. How much longer is one form of society and life to content itself with the morality made for another? We have had the morality of submission, and the morality of chivalry and generosity; the time is now come for the morality of justice.” — Ibid.
“Institutions, books, education, society all go on training human beings for the old, long after the new has come; much more when it is only coming.”— Ibid.
“There have been abundance of people, in all ages of Christianity, who tried . . . to convert us into a sort of Christian Mussulmans, with the Bible for a Koran, prohibiting all improvement; and great has been their power, and many have had to sacrifice their lives in resisting them. But they have been resisted, and the resistance has made us what we are, and will yet make us what we are to be.”— Ibid.
“In this tendency [to depreciate extremely the character and position of women] we may detect in part the influence of the earlier Jewish writings, in which it is probable that most impartial observers will detect evident traces of the common oriental depreciation of women. The custom of money-purchase to the father of the bride was admitted. Polygamy was authorized, and practised by the wisest men on an enormous scale. A woman was regarded as the origin of human ills. A period of purification was appointed after the birth of every child; but, by a very significant provision, it was twice as long in the case of a female as of a male child (Levit. xii. 1–5). The badness of men, a Jewish writer emphatically declared, is better than the goodness of women (Ecclesiasticus xlii. 14). The types of female excellence exhibited in the early period of Jewish history are in general of a low order, and certainly far inferior to those of Roman history or Greek poetry; and the warmest eulogy of a woman in the Old Testament is probably that which was bestowed upon her who, with circumstances of the most exaggerated treachery, had murdered the sleeping fugitive who had taken refuge under her roof,”— Lecky, “European Morals,” vol 1, p. 357.
1. “Mr. F. Newman, who looks on toleration as the result of intellectual progress, says: ‘Nevertheless, not only does the Old Testament justify bloody persecution, but the New teaches that God will visit men with fiery vengeance for holding an erroneous creed.”— Buckle.
2. “The first great consequence of the decline of priestly influence was the rise of toleration. . . . I suspect that the impolicy of persecution was perceived before its wickedness. “— Ibid.
3. “While a multitude of scientific discoveries, critical and historical researches, and educational reforms have brought thinking men face to face with religious problems of extreme importance, women have been almost absolutely excluded from their influence.”— Lechy.
4. “The domestic unhappiness arising from difference of belief was probably almost or altogether unknown in the world before the introduction of Christianity. . . . The deep, and widening chasm between the religious opinions of most highly educated men, and of the immense majority of women is painfully apparent. Whenever any strong religious fervor fell upon a husband or a wife, its first effect was to make a happy union impossible.”— Ibid.
5. “The combined influence of the Jewish writings [Old Testament] and of that ascetic feeling which treated woman as the chief source of temptation to man, caused her degradation. . . . In the writings of the Fathers, woman was represented as the door of hell, as the mother of all human ills. She should be ashamed at the very thought that she is a woman. She should live in continual penance, on account of the curse she has brought into the world. She should be ashamed of her dress, and especially ashamed of her beauty.”— Ibid.
1. “The writers of the Middle Ages are full of accounts of nunneries that were like brothels. . . . The inveterate prevalence of incest among the clergy rendered it necessary again and again to issue the most stringent enactments that priests should not be permitted to live with their mothers or sisters. . . . An Italian bishop of the tenth century enigmatically described the morals of his time, when he declared, that if he were to enforce the canons against unchaste people administering ecclesiastical rites, no one would be left in the Church except the boys.”— Lecky.
2. In the middle of the sixteenth century ‘‘the majority of the clergy were nearly illiterate, and many of them addicted to drunkenness and low vices. — Hallam, “Const. Hist, of Eng.”
3. “The clergy have ruined Italy.”— Brougham, “Pol. Phil.”
4. “It was a significant prudence of many of the lay Catholics, who were accustomed to insist that their priests should take a concubine for the protection of the families of the parishioners. . . . It can hardly be questioned that the extreme frequency of illicit connections among the clergy tended during many centuries most actively to lower the moral tone of the laity. . . . An impure chastity was fostered, which continually looked upon marriage in its coarsest light. . . . Another injurious consequence, resulting, in a great measure, from asceticism, was a tendency to depreciate extremely the character and the position of woman.”— Lecky.
1. “The great and main duty which a wife, as a wife, ought to learn, and so learn as to practise it, is to be subject to her own husband. . . . There is not any husband to whom this honor of submission is not due; no personal infirmity, frowardness of nature; no, not even on the point of religion, doth deprive him of it.”— Fergusson on “the Epistles.”
2. “The sum of a wife’s duty unto her husband is subjection. “— Abernethy.
3. “We shall be told, perhaps, that religion imposes the duty of obedience [upon wives]; as every established fact which is too bad to admit of any other defense, is always presented to us as an injunction of religion. The Church, it is true, enjoins it in her formularies.”— Mill.
“The principle of the modern movement in morals and in politics, is that conduct, and conduct alone, entitles to respect: that not what men are, but what they do constitutes their claim to deference; that, above all, merit and not birth is the only rightful claim to power and authority.”— Ibid.
“Taking the care of people’s lives out of their own hands, and relieving them from the consequences of their own acts, saps the very foundation of the self-respect and self-control which are the essential conditions both of individual prosperity and of social virtue.”— Ibid.
“Inferior classes of men always, at heart, feel disrespect toward those who are subject to their power.”— Ibid.
4. “Among those causes of human improvement that are of most importance to the general welfare, must be included the total annihilation of the prejudices which have established between the sexes an inequality of right, fatal even to the party which it favors. In vain might we seek for motives to justify the principle, in difference of physical organization, of intellect, or of moral sensibility. It had at first no other origin but abuse of strength, and all the attempts which have since been made to support it are idle sophisms.”—“Progress of the Human Mind,” Condorcet.
5. Notwithstanding the work of such men as the Encyclopedists of France and other liberal thinkers for the proper recognition of women, the Church had held her grip so tight that upon the passage of the bill, as late as 1848, giving to married women the right to own their own property, the most doleful prophesies went up as to the just retribution that would fall upon women for their wicked insubordination, and upon the men who had defied divine commands so far as to pass such a law. A recent writer tells us that Wm. A. Stokes, in talking to a lady whom he blamed for its passage, said: “We hold you responsible for that law, and I tell you now you will live to rue the day when you opened such a Pandora’s box in your native State, and cast such an apple of discord into every family of the State.”
And the sermons that were preached against it — the prophecies of deacon and preacher — were so numerous, so denunciatory, and so violent that they form a queer and interesting chapter in the history of the attitude of the Church toward women, and illustrate, in our own time, how persistent it has been in its efforts to prevent woman from sharing in the benefits of the higher civilization of the nineteenth century.
But fortunately for women, Infidels are more numerous than they ever were before, and the power of the Church is dying of dry rot, or as Col. Ingersoll wittily says, of the combined influence of softening of the brain and ossification of the heart.
“St. Gregory the Great describes the virtue of a priest, who through motives of piety had discarded his wife . . . Their wives, in immense numbers, were driven forth with hatred and with scorn . . . Pope Urban II. gave license to the nobles to reduce to slavery the wives of priests who refused to abandon them.”— Lecky.
1. “Hallam denies that respect for women is due to Christianity. “— Buckle.
2. “In England, wives are still occasionally led to the market by a halter around the neck to be sold by the husband to the highest bidder.”— Ibid.
“The sale of a wife with a halter around her neck is still a legal transaction in England. The sale must be made in the cattle market, as if she were a mare, all women being considered as mares by old English law, and indeed called ‘mares’ in certain counties where genuine old English law is still preserved.”— Borrow.
3. “Contempt for woman, the result of clerical teaching, is shown in myriad forms.”— Gage.
4. “The legal subordination of one sex to another is wrong in itself, and is now one of the chief hindrances to human improvement.”— John Stuart Mill.
5. “I have no relish for a community of goods resting on the doctrine, that what is mine is yours, but what is yours is not mine; and I should prefer to decline entering into such a compact with anyone, though I were myself the person to profit by it.”— Ibid.
It will take a long time for that sort of morality to filter into the skull of the Church, and when it does the skull will burst.
6. “Certain beliefs have been inculcated, certain crimes invented, in order to intimidate the masses. Hence the Church made free thought the worst of sins, and the spirit of inquiry the worst of blasphemies. . . . As late as the time of Bunyan the chief doctrine inculcated from the pulpit was obedience to the temporal power. . . . All these influences fell with crushing weight on woman.”— Matilda Joslyn Gage in “Hist. Woman Suffrage.”
7. “Taught that education for her was indelicate and irreligious, she has been kept in such gross ignorance as to fall a prey to superstition, and to glory in her own degradation . . . Such was the prejudice against a liberal education for woman, that the first public examination of a girl in geometry (1829) created as bitter a storm of ridicule as has since assailed women who have entered the law, the pulpit, or the medical profession.”— Ibid.
1. “The five writers to whose genius we owe the first attempt at comprehensive views of history were Bolingbroke, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Hume, and Gibbon. Of these the second was but a cold believer in Christianity, if, indeed, he believed in it at all; and the other four were avowed and notorious infidels.”— Buckle.
2 “Here, then, we have the starting-point of progress — scepticism. . . . All, therefore, that men want is no hindrance from their political and religious rulers. . . . Until common minds doubt respecting religion they can never receive any new scientific conclusion at variance with it — as Joshua and Copernicus.”— Ibid.
3. “The immortal work of Gibbon, of which the sagacity is, if possible, equal to the learning, did find readers, but the illustrious author was so cruelly reviled by men who called themselves Christians, that it seemed doubtful if, after such an example, subsequent writers would hazard their comfort and happiness by attempting to write philosophic history. Middleton wrote in 1750. . . . As long as the theological spirit was alive nothing could be effected.”— Ibid.
4. “The questions which presented themselves to the acuter minds of a hundred years ago were present to the acuter minds who lived hundreds of years before that. . . . But the Church had known how to deal with intellectual insurgents, from Abelard in the twelfth century down to Bruno and Vanini in the seventeenth. They were isolated, and for the most part submissive; and if they were not, the arm of the Church was very long and her grasp mortal. . . . They [the thinkers] could have taught Europe earlier than the Church allowed it to learn, that the sun does not go round the earth, and that it is the earth which goes round the sun. . . . After the middle of the last century the insurrection against the pretensions of the Church and against the doctrines of Christianity was marked in one of its most important phases by a new, and most significant, feature. . . . It was an advance both in knowledge and in moral motive. . . . The philosophical movement was represented by “Diderot” [leading the Encyclopaedist circle.] . . . Broadly stated the great central moral of it was this: that human nature is good, that the world is capable of being made a desirable abiding-place, and that the evil of the world is the fruit of bad education and bad institutions. This cheerful doctrine now strikes on the ear as a commonplace and a truism. A hundred years ago in France it was a wonderful gospel, and the beginning of a new dispensation. . . . Into what fresh and unwelcome sunlight it brought the articles of the old theology . . . Every social improvement since has been the outcome of that new doctrine in one form or another. . . . The teaching of the Church paints men as fallen and depraved. The deadly chagrin with which churchmen saw the new fabric rising was very natural. . . . The new secular knowledge clashed at a thousand points, alike in letter and spirit, with the old sacred lore. . . . A hundred years ago this perception was vague and indefinite, but there was an unmistakable apprehension that the Catholic ideal of womanhood was no more adequate to the facts of life, than Catholic views about science, or popery, or labor, or political order and authority.”— Morley.
And it took the rising infidels to discover the fact. See Morley, “Diderot,” p. 76.
“The greatest fact in the intellectual history of the eighteenth century is the decisive revolution that overtook the sustaining conviction of the Church. The central conception, that the universe was called into existence only to further its Creator’s purpose toward man, became incredible (by the light of the new thought). What seems to careless observers a mere metaphysical dispute was in truth, and still is, the decisive quarter of the great battle between theology and a philosophy reconcilable with science.”— Morley.
“The man who ventured to use his mind [Diderot] was thrown into the dungeon at Vincennes.”— Ibid.
5. “Those thinkers [Voltaire, Rousseau, and Diderot] taught men to reason; reasoning well leads to acting well; justness in the mind becomes justice in the heart. Those toilers for progress labored usefully. . . . The French Revolution was their soul. It was their radiant manifestation. It came from them; we find them everywhere in that blest and superb catastrophe, which formed the conclusion of the past and the opening of the future. . . . The new society, the desire for equality and concession, and that beginning of fraternity which called itself tolerance, reciprocal good-will, the just accord of men and rights, reason recognized as the supreme law, the annihilation of prejudices and fixed opinions, the serenity of souls, the spirit of indulgence and of pardon, harmony, peace — behold what has come from them!”— Victor Hugo, “Oration on Voltaire.”
“He [Mohammed] promulgated a mass of fables, which he pretended to have received from heaven. . . . After enjoying for twenty years a power without bounds, and of which there exists no other example, he announced publicly, that, if he had committed any act of injustice, he was ready to make reparation. All were silent. . . . He died; and the enthusiasm which he communicated to his people will be seen to change the face of three-quarters of the globe. . . . I shall add that the religion of Mohammed is the most simple in its dogmas, the least absurd in its practices, above all others tolerant in its principles.”— Condorcet.
The claim is so often and so boldly made that Infidelity produces crime, and that Christianity, or belief, or faith, makes people good, that the following statistics usually produce a rather chilly sensation in the believer when presented in the midst of an argument based upon the above mentioned claim. I have used it with effect. The person upon whom it is used will never offer that argument to you again. The following statistics were taken from the British Parliamentary reports, made on the instance of Sir John Trelawney, in 1873:
ENGLAND AND WALES.
Criminals in England and Wales in 1873. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 146,146
SECTARIAN AND INFIDEL POPULATION OF THE SAME.
Church of England. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6,933,935
Dissenters. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7,235,158
Catholics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 1,500,000
Jews. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57,000
Infidels. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7,000,000
RELIGIOUS PERSUASIONS OF CRIMINALS OF THE SAME.
Church of England. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 96,097
Catholics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 35,581
Dissenters. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10,648
Jews. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 256
Infidels. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 296
CRIMINALS TO 100,000 POPULATION.
Catholics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 2,500
Church of England. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,400
Dissenters. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 150
Infidels. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
These statistics are taken from the report of the British Parliament, which, for learning and intelligence, as a deliberative body, has not its superior, if it has its equal, in the world, and it is surely a sufficiently Christian body to be accepted as authority in this matter, since a large number of its members are clergymen. These statistics hardly sustain the allegation that “Infidelity is coupled with impurity.”
We are willing to stand upon our record. But, lest it be claimed that this is a British peculiarity, allow me to defer to the patriotic sentiment of my readers by one other little set of tables which, while not complete, is equally as suggestive.
“In sixty-six different prisons, jails, reformatories, refuges, penitentiaries, and lock-ups there were, for the years given in reports, 41,335 men and boys, women and girls, of the following religious sects:
Catholics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 16,431
Church of England. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9,975
Eighteen other Protestant denominations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14,811
Universalists. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Jews, Chinese, and Mormons. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110
Infidels (two so-called, one avowed). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
“These included the prisons of Iowa, Michigan, Tennessee, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Indiana, Illinois, and Canada.”
Present these two tables to those who assure you that crime follows in the wake of Infidelity, and you will have time to take a comfortable nap before your Christian friend returns to the attack or braces up after the shock sustained by his sentiments and inflicted by these two small but truly suggestive tables.
One cold fact like this will inoculate one of the faithful with more modesty than an hour of usual argument based upon the assumptions of the clergy and the ignorance of his hearers.
Infidels are not perfect. Many of them need reconstruction sadly, but the above data seem to indicate that they compare rather favorably with their fellow-men in the matter of good citizenship.
“Moreover, as Goethe has already shown, the celebrated Mosaic moral precepts, the so-called Ten Commandments, were not upon the tables upon which Moses wrote the laws of the covenant which God made with his people.
“Even the extraordinary diversity of the many religions diffused over the surface of the earth suffices to show that they can stand in no necessary connection with morals, as it is well known that wherever tolerably well-ordered political and social conditions exist, the moral precepts in their essential principles are the same, whilst when such conditions are wanting, a wild and irregular confusion, or even an entire deficiency of moral notions is met with.* History also shows incontrovertibly that religion and morality have by no means gone hand in hand in strength and development, but that even contrariwise the most religious times and countries have produced the greatest number of crimes and sins against the laws of morality, and indeed, as daily experience teaches, still produce them. The history of nearly all religions is filled with such horrible abominations, massacres, and boundless wickednesses of every kind that at the mere recollection of them the heart of a philanthropist seems to stand still, and we turn with disgust and horror from a mental aberration which could produce such deeds. If it is urged in vindication of religion that it has advanced and elevated human civilization, even this merit appears very doubtful in presence of the facts of history, and at least as very rarely or isolatedly the case. In general, however, it cannot be denied that most systems of religion have proved rather inimical than friendly to civilization. For religion, as already stated, tolerates no doubt, no discussion, no contradiction, no investigations, those eternal pioneers of the future of science and intellect! Even the simple circumstance that our present state of culture has already long since left far behind it all and even the highest intellectual ideals established and elaborated by former religions may show how little intellectual progress is influenced by religion. Mankind is perpetually being thrown to and fro between science, and religion, but it advances moro intellectually, morally and physically in proportion as it turns away from religion and to science.
* “In China, where people are, as is well-known, very indifferent or tolerant in religious matters, this fine proverb is current: Religions are various, but reason is one, and we are all brothers.’”
“It is therefore clear that for our present age and for the future a foundation must be sought and found for culture and morality, different from that which can be furnished to us by religion. It is not the fear of God that acts amelioratingly or ennoblingly upon manners, of which the middle ages furnish us with a striking proof; but the ennobling of the conception of the world in general which goes hand in hand with the advance of civilization. Let us then give up making a show of the profession of hypocritical words of faith, the only purpose of which seems to be that they may be continually shown to be lies by the actions and deeds of their professors! The man of the future will feel far more happy and contented when he has not to contend at every step of his intellectual forward development with those tormenting contradictions between knowledge and faith which plague his youth, and occupy his mature age unnecessarily with the slow renunciation of the notions which he imbibed in his youth. What we sacrifice to God, we take away from mankind, and absorb a great part of his best intellectual powers in the pursuit of an unattainable goal. At any rate, the least that we can expect in this respect from the state and society of the future is a complete separation between ecclesiastical and worldly affairs, or an absolute emancipation of the state and the school from every ecclesiastical influence.
“Education must be founded upon knowledge, not upon faith; and religion itself should be taught in the public schools only as religious history and as an objective or scientific exposition of the different religious systems prevailing among mankind. Any one who, after such an education, still experiences the need of a definite law or rule of faith may then attach himself to any religious sect that may seem good to him, but cannot claim that the community should bear the cost of this special fancy!
“As regards Christianity, or the Paulinism which is falsely called Christianity, it stands, by its dogmatic portion or contents, in such striking and irreconcilable, nay absolutely absurd contradiction with all the acquisitions and principles of modern science that its future tragical fate can only be a question of time. But even its ethical contents or its moral principles are in no way essentially distinguished above those of other peoples, and were equally well and in part better known to mankind even before its appearance. Not only in this respect, but also in its supposed character as the world-religion, it is excelled by the much older and probably most widely diffused religious system in the world, the celebrated Buddhism, which recognizes neither the idea of a personal God, nor that of a personal duration, and nevertheless teaches an extremely pure, amiable, and even ascetic morality. The doctrine of Zoroaster or Zarathrustra also, 1800 years B. C, taught the principles of humanity and toleration for those of different modes of thinking in a manner and purity which were unknown to the Semitic religions and especially to Christianity. Christianity originated and spread, as is well-known, at a time of general decline of manners, and of very great moral and national corruption; and its extraordinary success must be partly explained by the prevalence of a sort of intellectual and moral disease which had overpowered the spirits of men after the fall of the ancient civilization and under the demoralizing influence of the gradual collapse of the great Roman empire. But even at that time those who stood intellectually high and looked deeply into things recognized the whole danger of this new turn of mind, and it is very remarkable that the best and most benevolent of the Roman emperors, such as Marcus Aurelius, Julian, etc., were the most zealous persecutors of Christianity, whilst it was tolerated by the bad ones, such as Commodus, Heliogabalus, etc. When it had gradually attained the superiority, one of its first sins against intellectual progress consisted in the destruction by Christian fanaticism of the celebrated Library of Alexandria, which contained all the intellectual treasures of antiquity — an incalculable loss to science, which can never be replaced. It is usually asserted in praise of Christianity that in the middle ages the Christian monasteries were the preservers of science and literature, but even this is correct only in a very limited sense, since boundless ignorance and rudeness generally prevailed in the monasteries, and innumerable ecclesiastics could not even read. Valuable literary treasures on parchment contained in the libraries of the monasteries were destroyed, the monks when they wanted money selling the books as parchment, or tearing out the leaves and writing psalms upon them. Frequently they entirely effaced the ancient classics, to make room for their foolish legends and homilies; nay, the reading of the classics, such as Aristotle for example, was directly forbidden by papal decrees.
“In New Spain Christian fanaticism immediately destroyed whatever of arts and civilization existed among the natives, and that this was not inconsiderable is shown by the numerous monuments now in ruins which place beyond a doubt the former existence of a tolerably high degree of culture. But in the place of this not a trace of Christian civilization is now to be observed among the existing Indians, and the resident Catholic clergy keep the Indians purposely in a state of the greatest ignorance and stupidity (see Richthofen, Die Zustande der Republic Mexico, Berlin, 1854).
“Thus Christianity has always acted consistently in accordance with the principles of one of the fathers of the Church, Tertullian, who says: ‘Desire of knowledge is no longer necessary since Jesus Christ, nor is investigation necessary since the Gospel.’ If the civilization of the European and especially of Christian Nations has notwithstanding made such enormous progress in the course of centuries, an unprejudiced consideration of history can only tell us that this has taken place not by means of Christianity, but in spite of it. And this is a sufficient indication to what an extent this civilization must still be capable of development when once it shall be completely freed from the narrow bounds of old superstitious and religious embarrassments!”
“We must therefore endeavor to form convictions which are not to stand once and for all, as philosophers and theologians usually do, but such as may change and become improved with the advance of knowledge. Whoever does not recognize this and gives himself up once for all to a belief which he regards as final truth, whether it be of a theological or philosophical kind, is of course incapable of accepting a conviction supported upon scientific grounds. Unfortunately our whole education is founded upon an early systematic curbing and fettering of the intellect in the direction of dogmatic (philosophical or theological) doctrines of faith, and only a comparatively small number of strong minds succeed in after years in freeing themselves by their own powers from these fetters, whilst the majority remain captive in the accustomed bonds and form their judgment in accordance with the celebrated saying of Bishop Berkeley: ‘Few men think; but all will have opinions.’"— Buchner, “Man in the Past, Present, and Future.”
“And here it may be remarked, once for all, that no man who has subscribed to creeds and formulas, whether in theology or philosophy, can be an unbiased investigator of the truth or an unprejudiced judge of the opinions of others. His sworn preconceptions warping his discernment, adherence to his sect or party engenders intolerance to the honest convictions of other inquirer? Beliefs we may and must have, but a belief to be changed with new and advancing knowledge impedes no progress, while a creed subscribed to as ultimate truth, and sworn to be defended, not only puts a bar to further research, but as a consequence throws the odium of distrust on all that may seem to oppose it.
“Even when such odium cannot deter, it annoys and irritates; hence the frequent unwillingness of men of science to come prominently forward with the avowal of their beliefs.
“It is time this delicacy were thrown aside, and such theologians plainly told that the skepticism and Infidelity — if skepticism and Infidelity there be-lies all on their own side.
“There is no skepticism so offensive as that which doubts the facts of honest and careful observation; no Infidelity so gross as that which disbelieves the deductions of competent and unbiased judgments.”— David Page, “Man,” etc., Edinburgh, 1867.
Since I have recorded this incident of my lecture in Chicago, it is peculiarly fitting and pleasant to be able to give the following extract from the review of the first edition of this book printed in the Chicago Times. No great daily paper would have dared to print such a comment a few years ago. To-day it is stated as a matter quite beyond controversy:
“She takes considerable pains to show what one would think need scarcely be insisted upon in our day, that the morals of civilization — morals in general, indeed — are not at all based in or dependent upon religion, certainly not on Christianity, since the so-called ‘golden rule’ the highest principle of morality, antedates Christianity a thousand years.”
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:54