C.W. Foote

              New Revised and Much Enlarged Edition
                          A.D. McLaren

             Published for the Secular Society Ltd.

           The Pioneer Press (G.W. Foot and Co. Ltd.)

                  61, Farringdon Street, E.C.4

                             PART I

                          ****     ****


     FORTY-SEVEN years have passed since the first edition of this
book was published. During that time the list of "infidel death-
beds" has, naturally, been considerably augmented, and it now
includes the name of the original author, George William Foote.

     I am responsible for the whole of Part II of the present
edition, and for the records of those Freethinkers whose names are
marked with an asterisk in the Index.


                          ****     ****


     INFIDEL death-beds have been a fertile theme of pulpit
eloquence. The priests of Christianity often inform their
congregations that Faith is an excellent soft pillow, and Reason a
horrible hard bolster, for the dying head. Freethought, they say,
is all very well in the days of our health and strength, when we
are buoyed up by the pride of carnal intellect; but ah! how poor a
thing it is when health and strength fail us, when, deserted by our
self-sufficiency, we need the support of a stronger power. In that
extremity the proud Freethinker turns to Jesus Christ, renounces
his wicked skepticism, implores pardon of the Savior he has
despised, and shudders at the awful scenes that await him in the
next world should the hour of forgiveness be past.

     Pictorial art has been pressed into the service of this plea
for religion, and in such orthodox periodicals as the British
Workman, to say nothing of the hordes of pious inventions which are

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circulated as tracts, expiring skeptics have been portrayed in
agonies of terror, gnashing their teeth, wringing their hands,
rolling their eyes, and exhibiting every sign of despair.

     One minister of the gospel, the Rev. Erskine Neale, has not
thought it beneath his dignity to compose an extensive series of
these holy frauds, under the title of Closing Scenes. This work
was, at one time, very popular and influential; but its specious
character having been exposed, it has fallen into disrepute, or at
least into neglect.

     The real answer to these arguments, if they may be called
such, is to be found in the body of the present work. I have
narrated in a brief space, and from the best authorities, the
"closing scenes" in the lives of many eminent Freethinkers during
the last three centuries. They are not anonymous persons without an
address, who cannot be located in time or space, and who simply
serve "to point a moral or adorn a tale." Their manor are in most
cases historical, and in some cases familiar to fame; great poets,
philosophers, historians, and wits, of deathless memory, who cannot
be withdrawn from the history of our race without robbing it of
much of its dignity and splendor.

     In some instances I have prefaced the story of their deaths
with a short, and in others with a lengthy, record of their lives. 
The ordinary reader cannot be expected to possess a complete
acquaintance with the career and achievements of every great
soldier of progress; and I have therefore considered it prudent to
afford such information as might be deemed necessary to a proper
appreciation of the character, the greatness, and the renown, of
the subjects of my sketches. When the hero of the story has been
the object of calumny or misrepresentation, when his death has been
falsely related, and simple facts, have been woven into a tissue of
lying absurdity, I have not been content with a bare narration of
the truth; I have carried the war into the enemy's camp, and
refuted their mischievous libels.

     One of our greatest living thinkers entertains "the belief
that the English mind, not readily swayed by rhetoric, moves freely
under the pressure of facts." [NOTE: Dr. E.B. Taylor: Preface to
second edition of; "PRIMITIVE CULTURES] I may therefore venture to
hope that the facts I have recorded will have their proper effect
on the reader's mind. Yet it may not be impolitic to examine the
orthodox argument as to death-bed repentance.

     Carlyle, in his Essay on Voltaire, utters a potent warning
against anything of the kind: --

          Surely the parting agonies of a fellow-mortal, when the
     spirit of our brother, rapt in the whirlwinds and thick
     ghastly vapors of death, clutches blindly for help, and no
     help is there, are not the scenes where a wise faith would
     seek to exult, when it can no longer hope to alleviate! For
     the rest, to touch farther on those their idle tales of dying
     horrors, remorse, and the like; to write of such, to believe
     them, or disbelieve them, or in anywise discuss them, were but
     a continuation of the same inaptitude. He who, after the 

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     imperturbable exit of so many Cartouches and Thurtells, in
     every age of the world can continue to regard the manner of a
     man's death as a test of his religions orthodoxy, may boast
     himself impregnable to merely terrestrial logic.
                    [ESSAYS; Vol. II, p. 161 (Peoples Edition)]

     There is a great deal of truth in this vigorous passage. I
fancy, however, that some of the dupes of priestcraft are not
absolutely impregnable to terrestrial logic, and I discuss the
subject for their sakes, even at the risk of being held guilty of

     Throughout the world the religion of mankind is determined by
the geographical accident of their birth. In England men grow up
Protestants; in Italy, Catholics; in Russia, Greek Christians; in
Turkey, Mohammedans; in India, Brahmans; in China, Buddhists or
Confucians. What they are taught in their childhood they believe in
their manhood; and they die in the faith in which they have lived.

     Here and there a few men think for themselves. If they discard
the faith in which they have been educated, they are never free
from its influence. it meets them at every turn, and is constantly,
by a thousand ties, drawing them back to the orthodox fold. The
stronger resist this attraction, the weaker succumb to it. Between
them is the average man, whose tendency will depend on several
things. If he is isolated, or finds but few sympathizers, he may
revert to the ranks of faith; if he finds many of the same opinion
with himself, he will probably display more fortitude. Even
Freethinkers are gregarious, and in the worst as well as the best
sense of the words, the saying of Novalis is true -- "My thought
gains infinitely when it is shared by another."

     But in all cases of reversion, the skeptic invariably turns to
the creed of his own country. What does this prove? Simply the
power of our environment, and the force of early training. When
"infidels" are few, and their relatives are orthodox, what could be
more natural than what is called "a death-bed recantation?" Their
minds are enfeebled by disease, or the near approach of death; they
are surrounded by persons who continually urge them to be
reconciled to the popular faith; and is it astonishing if they
sometimes yield to these solicitations? Is it wonderful if, when
all grows dim, and the priestly carrion-crow of the death-chamber
mouths the perfunctory shibboleths, the weak brain should become
dazed, and the poor tongue mutter a faint response?

     Should the dying man be old, there is still less reason for
surprise. Old age yearns back to the cradle, and as Dante Rossetti
says: --

                                   "Life all past
          Is like the sky when the sun sets in it,
          Clearest where furthest off."

     The "recantation" of old men, if it occurs, is easily
understood. Having been brought up in a particular religion, their
earliest and tenderest memories may be connected with it; and when
they lie down to die they may mechanically recur to it, just as 
they may forget whole years of their maturity, and vividly remember

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the scenes of their childhood. Those who have read Thackeray's
exquisitely faithful and pathetic narrative of the death of old
Col. Newcome, will remember that as the evening chapel bell tolled
its last note, he smiled, lifted his head a little, and cried
Adsum! ("I am present"), the boy's answer when the names were
called at school.

     Cases of recantation, if they were ever common, which does not
appear to be true, are now exceedingly rare; so rare, indeed, that
they are never heard of except in anonymous tracts, which are
evidently concocted for the glory of God, rather than the
edification of Man. Skeptics are at present numbered by thousands,
and they can nearly always secure at their bedsides the presence of
friends who share their unbelief. Every week, the Freethought
journals report quietly, and as a matter of course, the peaceful
end of "infidels" who, having lived without hypocrisy, have died
without fear. They are frequently buried by their heterodox
friends, and never a week passes without the Secular Burial.
Service, or some other appropriate words, being read by skeptics
over a skeptic's grave.

     Christian ministers know this. They usually confine
themselves, therefore, to the death-bed stories of Paine and
Voltaire, which have been again and again refuted. Little, if
anything, is said about the eminent Freethinkers who have died in
the present generation. The priests must wait half a century before
they can hope to defame them with success. Our cry to these pious
sutlers is Hands off!" Refute the arguments of Freethinkers, if you
can; but do not obtrude your disgusting presence in the death
chamber, or vent your malignity over their tombs.

     Supposing, however, that every Freethinker turned Christian on
his death-bed. It is a tremendous stretch of fancy, but I make it
for the sake of argument. What does it prove? Nothing, as I said
before, but the force of our surroundings and early training. It is
a common saying among Jews, when they hear of a Christian
proselyte, "Ah, wait till he comes to die!" As a matter of fact,
converted Jews generally die in the faith of their race; and the
same is alleged as to the native converts that are made by our
missionaries in India.

     Heine has a pregnant passage on this point. Referring to
Joseph Schelling, who was "an apostate to his own thought," who
deserted the altar he had himself consecrated," and returned to the
crypts of the past," Heine rebukes the "old believers," who cried
Kyrie eleison ("Lord, have mercy in honor of such a conversion."
That," he says proves nothing for their doctrine. It only proves
that man turns to religion when he is old and fatigued, when his
physical and mental force has left him, when he can no longer enjoy
nor reason. So many Freethinkers are converted on their death-beds!
... But at least do not boast of them. These legendary conversions
belong at best to pathology, and are a poor evidence for your
cause. After all, they only prove this, that it was impossible for
you to convert those Freethinkers while they were healthy in body
and mind." [NOTE: [De l'Allemagne, Vol. I, p. 174]

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     Renan has some excellent words on the same subject in his
delightful volume of autobiography. After expressing a rooted
preference for a sudden death, he continues: "I should be grieved
to go through one of those periods of feebleness, in which the man
who has possessed strength and virtue is only the shadow and ruins
of himself, and often, to the great joy of fools, occupies himself
in demolishing the life he had laboriously built up. Such an old
age is the worst gift the gods can bestow on man. If such a fate is
reserved for me, I protest in advance against the fatuities that a
softened brain may make me say or sign. It is Renan sound in heart
and head, such as I am now, and not Renan half destroyed by death,
and no longer himself, as I shall be if I decompose gradually, that
I wish people to listen to and believe." [NOTE: Souvenirs d'Enfance
et de Jeunesse, p. 377]

     To find the best passage on this topic in our own literature
we must go back to the seventeenth century, and to Selden's 'Table
Talk,' a volume in which Coleridge found "more weighty bullion
sense" than he "ever found in the same number of pages of any
uninspired writer." Selden lived in a less mealy-mouthed age than
ours, and what I am going to quote smacks of the blunt old times;
but it is too good to miss, and all readers who are not prudish
will thank me for citing it. "For a priest," says Selden, "to turn
a man when he lies a dying, is just like one that has a long time
solicited a woman, and cannot obtain his end; at length he makes
her drunk, and so lies with her." It is a curious thing that the
writer of these words helped to draw up the Westminster Confession
of faith.

     For my own part, while I have known many Freethinkers who were
steadfast to their principles in death, I have never known a single
case of recantation. The fact is, Christians are utterly mistaken
on this subject. it is quite intelligible that those who believe in
a vengeful. God, and an everlasting hell, should tremble on "the
brink of eternity"; and it is natural that they should ascribe to
others the same trepidation. But a moment's reflection must
convince them that this is fallacious. The only terror in death is
the apprehension of what lies beyond it, and that emotion is
impossible to a sincere disbeliever. Of course the orthodox may
ask, "But is there a sincere disbeliever?" To which I can only
reply, like Diderot, by asking, "Is there a sincere Christian?"

     Professor Tyndall, while repudiating Atheism himself, has
borne testimony to the earnestness of others who embrace it. "I
have known some of the most pronounced among them," he says, "not
only in life but in death - seen them approaching with open eyes
the inexorable goal, with no dread of a hangman's whip, with no
hope of a heavenly crown, and still as mindful of their duties, and
as faithful in the discharge of them, as if their eternal future
depended on their latest deeds." [NOTE: Fortnightly Review,
November 1877]

     Lord Bacon said, "I do not believe that any man fears to be
dead, but only the stroke of death." True, and the physical
suffering, and the pang of separation, are the same for all. Yet
the end of life is as natural as its beginning, and the true
philosophy of existence is nobly expressed in the lofty sentence of
Spinoza, "A free man thinks less of nothing than of death."

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          "So live, that when thy summons comes to join
           The innumerable caravan, which moves
           To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
           His chamber in the silent halls of death,
           Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
           Scourged to his dungeon, but sustained and soothed
           By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
           Like one who wraps the drapery of his conch
           About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams."
                              [Bryan, Thanatopsies]

                          ****     ****

                         LORD AMBERLEY.

     VISCOUNT AMBERLEY, the eldest son of the late Earl Russell,
and the author of a very heretical work entitled an 'Analysis of
Religious Belief,' lived and died a Freethinker. His will,
stipulating that his son should be educated by a skeptical friend
was set aside by Earl Russell; the law of England being such, that
Freethinkers are denied the parental rights which are enjoyed by
their Christian neighbors. Lady Frances Russell, who signs with her
initials the Preface to Lord Amberley's book, which was published
after his death, writes: "Ere the pages now given to the public had
left the press, the hand that had written them was cold, the heart
-- of which few could know the loving depths -- had ceased to beat,
the far-ranging mind was for ever still, the fervent spirit was at
rest. Let this be remembered by those who read, and add solemnity
to the solemn purpose of the book."

     NOTE for the computer edition 1991: Lord Amberley was the
father of Bertrand Russell, the famous philosopher-Freethinker-
Atheist, and Bertrand Russell was the son who was legally denied a
"skeptical" education as stipulated in Lord Amberley's will.

                        JOHN BASKERVILLE

     BASKERVILLE'S name is well known in the republic of letters,
and his memory still lingers in Birmingham, where he carried on the
trade of a printer. He was celebrated for the excellence of his
workmanship, the beauty of his types, and the splendor of his
editions. Born in 1706, he died on January 8, 1775. He was buried
in a tomb in his own garden, on which was placed the following
inscription: --

          Beneath this cone, in unconsecrated ground,
          A friend to the liberties of mankind directed
               His body to be inured.
          May the example contribute to emancipate thy
          Mind from the idle fears of Superstition
               And the wicked arts of Priesthood.

     This virtuous man and useful citizen took precautions against
"the wicked arts of priesthood." "His will," says Mr. Leslie
Stephen, "professed open contempt for Christianity, and the
biographers who reproduce the document always veil certain passages
with lines of stars as being far too indecent (i.e., irreverent)
for repetition." [NOTE: Dictionary of National Biography.]

                       INFIDEL DEATH-BEDS

                          PIERRE BAYLE.

     PIERRE BAYLE was the author of the famous Dictionary which
bears his name. This monument of learning and acuteness has been
of inestimable service to succeeding writers. Gibbon himself laid
it under contribution, and acknowledged his indebtedness to the
"celebrated writer" and "philosopher" of Amsterdam. Elsewhere
Gibbon calls him "the indefatigable Bayle," an epithet which is
singularly appropriate, since he worked fourteen hours daily for
over forty years. Born on November 18, 1647, Bayle died on
December 28, 1706. He continued writing to the very end, and
"labored constantly, with the same tranquillity of mind as if
death has not been ready to interrupt his work. [NOTE: Des
Maiseaux, 'Life of Boyle," prefixed to the English translation of
the "Dictionary."] This is the testimony of a friend, and a
similar statement is made in the Nouvelle Biographic Generale,
which says, "He died in his clothes, and as it were pen in hand."
According to Des Maiseaux, "he saw death approaching without
either fearing or desiring it." Nor did his jocularity desert him
any more than his skepticism. Writing to, Lord Shaftesbury on
October 29, 1706 -- only two months before his death -- he said.
"I should have thought that a dispute with Divines would put me
out of humor, but I find by experience that it serves as an
amusement for me in the solitude to which I have reduced myself."

     The final moments of this great scholar are described by a
friend who had the account from an attendant. "M. Bayle died,"
says M. Seers' "with great tranquillity and without anybody with
him. At nine o'clock in the morning his landlady entered his
chamber; he asked her, but with a dying voice, if his fire was
kindled, and died a moment after, without M. Basnage, (Author of
the first History of the Jews) or me, or any of his friends with

                         JEREMY BENTHAM.

     BENTHAM exercised a profound influence on the party of
progress for nearly two generations. He was the father of
Philosophical Radicalism, which did so much to free the minds and
bodies of the English people, and which counted among its
swordsmen historians like Grote, philosophers like Mill, wits
like Sydney Smith, journalists like Fonblanque, and politicians
like Roebuck. As a reformer in jurisprudence he has no equal. His
brain swarmed with progressive ideas and projects for the
improvement and elevation of mankind; and his fortune, as well as
his intellect, was ever at the service of advanced causes. His
skepticism was rather suggested than paraded in his multitudinous
writings, but it was plainly expressed in a few special volumes.
'Not Paul, but Jesus,' published under the pseudonym of Camaliel
Smith is a slashing attack on the Great Apostle. 'The Church of
England Catechism Explained' is a merciless criticism of that
great instrument for producing mental and political slaves. But
the most thorough-going of Bentham's works was a little volume
written by Grote from the Master's notes -- 'the Influence of
Natural Religion on the Temporal Happiness of Mankind' -- in
which theology is assailed as the historic and necessary enemy of
human liberty, enlightenment, and welfare.

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     Born on February 15, 1748, Bentham died on June 6, 1832. By
a will dating as far back as 1769, his body was left for the
purposes of science, "not out of affectation of singularity, but
to the intent and with the desire that mankind may reap some
small benefit in and by my decease, having hitherto had small
opportunities to contribute thereto while living." A memorandum
affixed shows that this clause was deliberately confirmed two 
months before his death.

     Dr. Southwood Smith delivered a lecture over Bentham's
remains, three days after his death, in the Webb Street School of
Anatomy. He thus described the last moments of his illustrious
friend: --

          Some time before his death, when he truly believed he
     was near that hour, he said to one of his disciples, who was
     watching over him: "I now feel that I am dying; our care
     must be to minimis the pain. Do not let any of the servants
     come into my room and keep away the youth: it will be
     distressing to them, and they can be of no service. Yet I
     must not be alone: you will remain with me, and you only;
     and then we shall have reduced the pain to the least
     possible amount." Such were his last thoughts and feelings.
     [Dr. Southwood Smith's Lecture, p. 62]

     Mr. Leslie Stephen relates a similar story in the
'Dictionary of National Biography.' As a Utilitarian, Bentham
regarded happiness as the only good and pain as the only evil. He
met death "serenely," but like a sensible man he "minimized the

                           PAUL BERT.

     PAUL BERT was born at Auxerre in October, 1833, and he died
at Tonquin on November 11, 1886. His father educated him in a
detestation of priests, and his own nature led him to the pursuit
of science. He took the degree of Doctor of Medicine in 1863, and
three years later the degree of Doctor of Science. His political
life began with the fall of the Empire. After the war of 1870-71
he entered the Chamber of Deputies, and devoted his great powers
to the development of public education. Largely through his
labors, the Chamber voted free, secular, and compulsory
instruction for both sexes. He was idolized by the school-masters
and school-mistresses in France. Being accused of a "blind
hatred" of priests, he replied in the Chamber -- "The conquests
of education are made on the domain of religion; I am forced to
meet on my road Catholic superstitions and Romish policy, or
rather it is across their empire that my path seems to me
naturally traced." Speaking at a mass meeting at the Cirque
d'Hiver, in August, 1881, Gambetta himself being in the chair,
Paul Bert declared that "modern societies march towards morality
in proportion as they leave religion behind." Afterwards he
published his scathing 'Morale des Jesuites, over twenty thousand
copies of which were sold in less than a year. The book was
dedicated to Bishop Freppel in a vein of masterly irony. Paul
Bert also published a scientific work, the 'Premiere Annee
d'Enseignement Scientifique,' which is almost universally used in
the Frenell primary schools.

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     During Garnbetta's short-lived government Paul Bert held the
post of Minister of Public Instruction. In 1886 he went out to
Tonquin as Resident-General. Hard work and the pestilential
climate laid him low and he succumbed to dysentery. When the news
of his death reached the French Chamber, M. Freycinet thus
announced the event from the tribune: --

          I announce with the deepest sorrow the death of M. Paul
     Bert. He died literally on the field of honor, broken down
     by the fatigues and hardships which he so bravely endured in
     trying to carry out the glorious task which he had
     undertaken. The Chamber loses by his death one of its most
     eminent members, Science one of its most illustrious
     votaries, France one of her most loving and faithful
     children, and the Government a fellow-worker of inestimable
     value, in whom we placed the fullest confidence. Excuse me,
     gentlemen, if because my strength fails me I am unable to

     The sitting was raised as a mark of respect, and the next
day the Chamber voted a public funeral and a pension to Paul
Bert's family. Bishop Freppel opposed the first vote on the
ground that the deceased was an inveterate enemy of religion, but
he was ignominiously beaten, the majority against him being 379
to 45. Despite this miserable protest, while Paul Bert's body was
on its way to Europe the clerical party started a canard about
his "conversion." Perhaps the story originated in the fact that
he had daily visited the Hanoi Hospital, distributing books and
medicines and speaking kind words to the nuns in attendance. It
was openly stated and unctuously commented on in the religious
journals, that the Resident-General had sent for a Catholic
bishop on his death-bed and taken the sacrament; and as
inventions of this kind are always circumstantial, it was said
that the Papal Nuticio at Lisbon had received this intelligence.
But on December 29 the Papal Nuncio telegraphed that his name had
been improperly used; and two days later, when the French war-
ship touched at the Suez Canal, Madame Bert telegraphed that the
story was absolutely and entirely false.

                        LORD BOLINGBROKE.

     HENRY ST. JOHN, VISCOUNT BOLINGBROKE, was born in 1672 at
Battersea, where he also died on December 12, 1751. His life was
a stormy one, and on the fall of the Tory Ministry, of which he
was a distinguished member, he was impeached by the Whig
Parliament and the leadership of Sir Robert Walpole. It was
merely a party prosecution and although Bolingbroke was attainted
of high treason, he did not lose a friend or forfeit the respect
of honest men. Swift and Pope held him in the highest esteem;
they corresponded with him throughout their lives, and it was
from Bolingbroke that Pope derived the principles of the Essay an
Man. That Bolingbroke's abilities were of the highest order
cannot be gainsaid. His political writings are masterpieces of
learning, eloquence and wit, the style is sinewy and graceful,
and in the greatest heat of controversy he never ceases to be a
gentleman. His philosophical writings were published after his
death by his literary executor, David Mallet, whom Johnson 

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described as "a beggarly Scotchman" who was "left half-a-crown"
to fire off a blunderbuss, which his patron had charged, against
"religion and morality." Johnson's opinion on such a subject is
however, of trifling importance. He hated Scotchmen and Infidels,
and he told Boswell that Voltaire and Rousseau deserved
transportation more than any of the scoundrels who were tried at
the Old Bailey.

     Bolingbroke's philosophical writings show him to have been a
Deist. He believed in God, but he rejected Revelation. His views
are advanced and supported with erudition, eloquence, and
masterly irony. The approach of death, which was preceded by the
excruciating disease of cancer in the cheek, did not produce the
least change in his convictions. According to Goldsmith, "He was
consonant with himself to the last; and those principles which he
had all along avowed, he confirmed with his dying breath, having
given orders that none of the clergy should be permitted to
trouble him in his last moments." ['Life of Lord Bilingbroke:'
Works, IX, p. 248: Tegg. 1835.]

                       CHARLES BRADLAUGH.

     BRADLAUGH is the greatest personality in the history of the
popular Freethought Movement in England. He was born in London on
September 26, 1833, and the centenary of his birth is now being
celebrated by English Freethinkers throughout the world. As a boy
he was "an eager and exemplary Sunday School scholar" of St.
Peter's Church, Bethnal Green, and studied the Thirty-Nine
Articles and the Gospels as a preparation for confirmation.
Finding discrepancies he wrote to the incumbent, the Rev. J.G.
Packer, for his "aid and explanation." The net result of these
inquiries was that the youth was obliged to leave his father's
home, and "from that day until his death his life was one long
struggle against the bitterest animosity which religious bigotry
could inspire." Bradlaugh soon afterwards attended the "infidel"
meetings in Bonner's Fields, and later came into contact with the
militant Freethinkers of the earlier decades of the nineteenth
century, Richard Carlile, the brothers Holyoake and others. From
this time until 1868, when he became a candidate for Parliament,
he carried on a vigorous Freethought propaganda under the name of
"Iconoclast." During this period, and for some time afterwards,
he was also actively working for Republicanism. In his short
Autobiography (1873) he refers to his lectures on "The
Impeachment of the House of Brunswick." "I have sought," he says,
"and not entirely without success," to organize "the Republican
movement on a thoroughly legal basis."

     In 1860 he established the National Reformer, an
uncompromisingly Atheistic journal, which at first had to contend
against a host of difficulties, including a Government
prosecution to compel him to find securities against the
publication of matter of a blasphemous or seditious nature. His
successful defence resulted in the repeal of the Security Laws.
Bradlaugh's knowledge of the law was wide, but apart from this he
always showed remarkable penetration in perceiving the legal 

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points involved in the charges brought against him. In 1876, When
he and Mrs. Besant were prosecuted for publishing a Malthusian 
work, his accurate knowledge of the law again stood him in good
stead. They were convicted, but the conviction was quashed on

     In 1866 Bradlaugh founded the National Secular Society and
remained its President until 1890. The Society is still
flourishing and keeps a strong current of popular Freethought in
movement all over England.

     Bradlaugh first became a candidate for Parliament in 1868,
but was not elected till 1880. He asked to be allowed to make
affirmation of allegiance, instead of taking the Oath, but a 
Select Committee reported against his claim. The story of his
Parliamentary struggle and his subsequent triumph, the last stage
in which only came at the time of his death, cannot be related
here. It is a thrilling story and reveals the character of the
man as it stands written, in every chapter of his career from his
first encounter with the Rev. J.G. Packer. In 1886 Bradlaugh was
allowed to take his seat and two years later, through his
instrumentality, a Bill was carried permitting an affirmation to
be made in all cases where an oath was required by law.

     Although a considerable part of Bradlaugh's life was devoted
to political work, it is probably as the "image-breaker," the
protagonist of Freethought, that he will be longest remembered. A
bare list of the names of those: with whom he debated would
probably fill several pages of this book. It is needless to say
that he never left any room for doubt as to what his real
convictions were. He has himself told us that "about the middle
of 1850" he was "honored by the British Banner with a leading
article "vigorously assailing" him for his lectures against
Christianity. This "assailing" never ceased during his life, and
was by no means confined to his views and opinions. He wrote
numerous pamphlets. The 'Plea for Atheism' appeared in 1877 and
has frequently been reprinted. 'Humanity's Gain from Unbelief'
has also had a wide circulation. In the debate with the Rev. W.M.
Westerby on Has or is Man a Soul? (1879), and elsewhere, he shows
his complete rejection of belief in a future life.

     Bradlaugh died on January 30, 1891. His daughter, Mrs. H.
Bradlaugh Bonner, took minute precautions to procure "signed
testimony from those who had been attending him," that during his
last illness he had never uttered a word directly or indirectly
bearing upon religion. The last words she heard him speak during
the night of his death "were reminiscent of his voyage to India."
Despite this testimony the traditional Christian falsehoods on
this subject are still circulated and the writer of this notice
is constantly encountering them. As recently as Alay, 1932, Mrs.
Bradlaugh Bonner found it necessary to refute the absurd story
about her father's holding a watch and challenging God to kill
him in sixty seconds. (The Literary Guide, p. 84.) Such
mendacities no longer yield the amusement of novelty to
Freethinkers, they are rather considered a tribute to Bradlaugh's

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     Authority: Charles Bradlaugh (1894) and Did Charles
Bradlaugh die an Atheist? (1913), both by Mrs. H. Bradlaugh


     FRANCIS JEAN VICTOR BROUSSAIS, the great French physician
and philosopher, was born in 1772. He died on November 17th,
1838, leaving behind him a profession of faith," which was
published by his biographer. With respect to immortality, he
wrote, "I have no fears or hopes as to a future life, since I am
unable to conceive it." His views on the God idea were equally
negative. "I cannot," he said, "form any notion of such a power."

                         GIORDANO BRUNO.

     THIS glorious martyr of Freethought did not die in a quiet
chamber, tended by loving hands. He was literally "butchered to
make a Roman holiday." When the assassins of "the bloody faith"
kindled the fire which burnt out his splendid life, he was no
decrepit man, nor had the finger of Death touched his cheek with
a pallid hue. The blood coursed actively through his veins, and a
dauntless spirit shone in his noble eyes. It might have been
Bruno that Shelley had in mind when he wrote those thrilling
lines in Queen Mab: --

          I was an infant when my mother went
          To see an Atheist burned. She took me there
          The dark-robed priests were met around the pile,
          The multitude was gazing silently;
          And as the culprit passed with dauntless mien,
          Tempered disdain in his unaltering eye,
          Mixed with a quiet smile, shone calmly forth
          The thirsty fire crept round his manly limbs;
          His resolute eyes were scorched to blindness soon
          His death-pang rent my heart! The insensate mob
          Uttered a cry of triumph, and I wept.

     Giordano Bruno was born at Nola, near Naples, in 1548, ten
years after the death of Copernicus, and ten years before the
birth of Bacon. At the age of fifteen he became a novice in the
monastery of San Domenico Maggiore, and after his year's
novitiate expired he took the monastic vows. Studying deeply, he
became heretical, and an act of accusation was drawn up against
the boy of sixteen. Eight years later he was threatened with
another trial for heresy. A third process was more to be dreaded,
and in his twenty-eighth year Bruno fled from his persecutors. He
visited Rome, Noli, Venice, Turin and Padua. At Milan he made the
acquaintance of Sir Philip Sidney. After teaching for some time
in the university, he went to Chambery, but the ignorance and
bigotry of its monks were too great for his patience. He next
visited Geneva, but although John Calvin was dead, his dark
spirit still remained, and only flight preserved Bruno from the
fate of Servetus. Through Lyons he passed to Toulouse, where he
was elected Public Lecturer to the University. In 1579 he went to
Paris. The streets were still foul with the blood of the
Bartholomew massacres, but Bruno declined a professorship at the 

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Sorbonne, a condition of which was attending mass. Henry the
Third, however, made him Lecturer extraordinary to the
University. Paris at letigth became too hot to hold him, and he
went to London, where he lodged with the French Ambassador. His
evenings were mostly spent with Sir Philip Sidney, Fulke
Greville, Dyer and Hervey. So great was his fame that he was
invited to read at the University of Oxford, where he also, held
a public debate with its orthodox professors on the Copernican
astronomy. Leaving London in 1584, he returned to Paris, and
there also he publicly disputed with the Sorbonne. His safety
being once more threatened, he went to Marburg, and thence to
Wittenberg, where he taught for two years. At Helenstadt he was
excommunicated by Boetius, Repairing to Frankfort, he made the
acquaintance of a nobleman, who lured him to Venice and betrayed
him to the Inquisition. The Venetian Council transferred him to
Rome, where be languished for seven years in a pestiferous
dungeon, and was repeatedly tortured, according to the hellish
code of the Inquisition. At length, on February 10th, 1600, he
was led out to the Church of Santa Maria, and sentenced to be
burnt alive, or, as the Holy Church hypocritically phrased it, to
be punished "as mercifully as possible, and without effusion of
blood" Haughtily raising his bead, he exclaimed: "You are more
afraid to pronounce my sentence than I to receive it." He was
allowed a week's grace for recantation, but without avail; and on
the 17th of February, 1600, he was burnt to death on the Field of
Flowers. To the last he was brave and defiant; he contemptuously
pushed aside the crucifix they presented him to kiss; and, as one
of his enemies said, he died without a plaint or a groan.

     Such heroism stirs the blood more than the sound of a
trumpet. Bruno stood at the stake in solitary and awful grandeur.
There was not a friendly face in the vast crowd around him. It
was one man against the world. Surely the knight of Liberty, the
champion of Freethought, who lived such a life and died such a
death, without hope of reward on earth or in heaven, sustained
only by his indomitable manhood, is worthy to be accounted the
supreme martyr of all time. He towers above the less
disinterested martyrs of Faith like a colossus; the proudest of
them might walk under him without bending.

     Authorities: M. Bartholomess, 'Jordano Bruno,' 2 vols. I
Frith, 'Life of Giordano Bruno.'

                      HENRY THOMAS BUCKLE.

     THE author of the famous 'History of Civilization' believed
in God and immortality, but he rejected all the special tenets of
Christianity. He died at Damascus on May 29th, 1862. His
incoherent utterances in the fever that carried him off showed
that his mind was still dwelling on the uncompleted purpose of
his life. "Oh my book," he exclaimed, "my book, I shall never
finish my book!" "His end, however, was quite peaceful. His
biographer says: "He had a very quiet night, with intervals of
consciousness; but at six in the morning a sudden and very marked
change for the worse became but too fearfully evident; and at a
quarter past ten he quietly breathed his last, with merely a wave
of the hand." [Life and Writings of Henry Thomas Buckle, by A. 
Huth, Vol. II, p. 252]

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                   SIR RICHARD FRANCIS BURTON.

     SIR RICHARD BURTON, traveller and author, was born in
Hertfordshire in 1821. He died on 20th October, 1890, and his
wife's conduct in regard to his death and burial was at the time
the subject of wide comment, especially among Burton's friends.
Lady Isabel Burton was a devout Roman Catholic. According to her
story, Burton had his fits of Catholicism, outspoken Agnosticism
and Eastern Mysticism, but consistently maintained that in religion
"there were only two points, Agnosticism and Catholicism." Four
days before he died, she says he "wrote a declaration that he
wished to die a Catholic, but a few weeks previously upset her by
"an unusual burst of agnostic talk at tea." She had the extreme
unction of the Catholic Church administered to him, but everybody
in the house and every member of Burton's staff except the maid,
was surprised at her sending for the priest. Burton was actually
dead when these "last comforts" of the Church were administered,
and Lady Burton afterwards fully admitted this. Nevertheless "he
had three Church services performed over him, and 1,100 masses said
for the repose of his soul." (Thomas Wright, Life of Sir Richard
Burton, ii. 241-5.) Mrs. Lynn Linton referred to Burton as a "frank
agnostic," who "had systematically preached a doctrine so adverse"
to Christianity, and whose memory was dishonored by his wife's
demeanour at the time of his death (Nineteenth Century, March,
1892, p. 461) Lady Burton resented this charge with considerable
indignation, but her own statements in The New Review (November,
1892) almost fully bear it out. Rev. H.R. Haweis knew Burton well
and reports a conversation with him on the question of a future
life: --

          Sir Richard was a very good friend of mine, and one whom
     I held in high esteem. Sir Richard once said, "I know nothing
     about my soul, I get on very well without one. It is rather
     hard to inflict a soul on me in the decline of my life." (The
     Dead Pulpit, p. 269.)

     Burton's niece, Georgina M. Stisted, says: --

          The shock of so fatal a terminus to his illness would
     have daunted most Romanists desirous of effecting a death-bed
     conversion. It did not daunt Isabel. No sooner did she
     perceive that her husband's life was in danger, than she sent
     messengers in every direction for a priest. Mercifully, even
     the first to arrive, a man of peasant extraction, who had been
     appointed to the parish, came too late to molest one then far
     beyond the reach of human folly and superstition. (The True
     Life of Captain Sir Richard F. Burton, p. 413-4.)

     In Burton's 'Selected Papers on Anthropology, etc.' (p.
165-6), published in 1924, may be found many sarcastic references
to Holy Week in Rome and its theatricals, to "the horde of harpies"
that prey on visitors, the contrast between the richly decorated
churches, and the crowd of beggars imploring alms "in God's name,"
and to the brisk trade in "holy things -- images, crucifixes and
rosaries, blessed by his Holiness.

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     Swinburne knew Burton and protested in vigorous verse against
what he considered an outrage on decency committed by the "priests 
and soulless serfs of priests"

                                        who swarm
          With vulturous acclamation, loud in lies,
          About his dust while yet his dust is warm
          Who mocked as sunlight mocks their base blind eyes,
          Their godless ghost of godhead.

                           LORD BYRON.

     NO one can read Byron's poems attentively without seeing that 
he was not a Christian, and this view is amply corroborated by his
private letters, notably the very explicit one to Hodgson,
published half a century after Byron's death. Even the poet's first
and chief biographer, Moore, was constrained to admit that "Lord
Byron was, to the last, a skeptic."

     Byron was born at Holles Street, London, on January 22nd,
1788. His life was remarkably eventful for a poet, but its history
is so easily accessible, and so well known, that we need not
summaries it here. His death occurred at Missolonghi on April 19th,
1824. Greece was then struggling for independence, and Byron
devoted his life and fortune to her cause. His sentiments on this
subject are expressed with power and dignity in the lines written
at Missolonghi on his thirty-sixth birthday. The faults of his life
were many, but they were redeemed by the glory of his death.

     Exposure, which his declining health was unfitted to bear,
brought on a fever, and the soldier-poet of freedom died without
proper attendance, far from those he loved. He conversed a good
deal at first with his friend Parry, who records that "he spoke of
death with great composure." The day before he expired, when his
friends and attendants wept round his bed at the thought of losing
him, he looked at one of them steadily, and said, half smiling, "Oh
questa a una bella seena!" -- Oh this is a fine scene! After a fit
of delirium, he called his faithful servant Fletcher, who offered
to bring pen and paper to take down his words. "Oh no," he replied,
"there is no time. Go to my sister -- tell her -- go to Lady Byron
-- you will see her, and say . . ." Here his voice became
indistinct. For nearly twenty minutes he mattered to himself, but
only a word now and then could be distinguished. He then said,
"Now, I have told you all." Fletcher replied that he had not
understood a word. "Not understand me?" exclaimed Byron, with a
look of the utmost distress, "what a pity! -- then it is too late;
all is over." He tried to utter a few more words, but none were
intelligible except "my sister -- my child." After the doctors had
given him a sleeping draught, he reiterated, "Poor Greece! -- poor
town! -- My poor servants! my hour is come! -- I do not care for
death -- but why did I not go home? -- There are things that make
the world dear to me: for the rest I am content to die." He spoke
also of Greece, saying, "I have given her my time, my means, my
health -- and now I give her my life! what could I do more?" About
six o'clock in the evening he said, "Now, I shall go to sleep." He
then fell into the slumber from which he never woke. At a quarter
past six on the following day, he opened his eyes and immediately
shut them again. The physicians felt his pulse -- he was dead.
[Byron's Life and Letters, by Thomas Moore, p. 684-688]

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     His work was done. As Swinburne wrote in 1865, "A little space
was allowed him to show at least an heroic purpose, and attest a
high design; then, with all things unfinished before him and
behind, he fell asleep after many troubles and triumphs. Few can
have ever gone wearier to the grave: none with less fear." [Preface
(p. 28) to a Selection from Byron's poems, 1865] The pious
guardians of Westminster Abbey denied him sepulture in its holy 
precincts, but he found a grave at Hucknall, and "after life's
fitful fever be sleeps well."

     Byron's own views on the subject of death-beds were expressed
in a letter to Murray, dated June 7th, 1820. "A death-bed," he
wrote, "is a matter of nerves and constitution, not of religion."
He also remarked that "Men died calmly before the Christian era,
and since, without Christianity."

                        RICHARD CARLILE.

     RICHARD CARLILE was born at Ashburton, in Devonshire, on
December 8th, 1790. His whole life was spent in advocating
Freethought and Republicanism, and in resisting the Blasphemy Laws.
His total imprisonments for the freedom of the press amounted to
nine years and four months. Thirteen days before his death he
penned these words: "The enemy with whom I have to grapple is one
with whom no peace can be made. Idolatry will not parley;
superstition will not treat on covenant. They must be uprooted for
public and individual safety." Carlile died on February 10th, 1843.
He was attended in his last illness by Dr. Thomas Lawrence, the
author of the once famous Lectures on Man. Wishing to be useful in
death as in life, Carlile devoted his body to dissection. His wish
was complied with by the family, and the post-mortem examination
was recorded in the 'Lancet.' The burial took place at Rensal Green
Cemetery, where a clergyman insisted on reading the Church Service
over his remains. "His eldest son, Richard, who represented his
sentiments as well as his name, very properly protested against the
proceedings, as an outrage upon the principles of his father and
the wishes of the family. Of course the remonstrance was
disregarded, and Richard, his brothers, and their friends left the
ground." "After their departure, the clergyman called the great
hater of priests his "dear departed brother," and declared that the
rank Materialist had died "in the sure and certain hope of a
glorious resurrection."

                    WILLIAM KINGDON CLIFFORD.

     PROFESSOR CLIFFORD died all-too early of consumption, on March
3, 1879. He was one of the gentlest and most amiable of men, and
the center of a large circle of distinguished friends. His great
ability was beyond dispute; in the higher mathematics he enjoyed a
European reputation. Nor was his courage less, for he never
concealed his heresy, but rather proclaimed it from the housetops.
A Freethinker to the heart's core, he "utterly dismissed from his
thoughts, as being unprofitable or worse, all speculations on a
future or unseen world"; and "as never man loved life more, so
never man feared death less." He fulfilled, continues Mr. Pollock,
"well and truly the great saying of Spinoza, often in his mind and 

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on his lips; Homo liber de nulla re minus quam de morte cogitat. (A
free man thinks less of nothing than of death.)" [Lectures and
Essays, by professor Clifford. Pollock's Introduction, p. 25]
Clifford faced the inevitable with the utmost calmness.

          For a week he had known that it might come at any moment
     and looked to it steadfastly. So calmly bad he received the
     warning which conveyed this knowledge that it seemed at the
     instant as if he did not understand it . . . He gave careful
     and exact directions as to the disposal of his works . . .
     More than this, his interest in the outer world, his affection
     for his friends and his pleasure in their pleasures, did not
     desert him to the very last He still followed the course of
     events, and asked for the public news on the morning of his
     death, so strongly did he hold fast his part in the common
     weal and in active social life. [Lectures and Asseys, p. 26]

     Clifford was a great loss to "the good old cause." He was a
most valiant soldier of progress, cut off before a tithe of his
work was accomplished.

                       ANACHARSIS CLOOTZ.

     AMONG the multitude of figures in the vast panorama of the
French Revolution was Jean Baptiste du Val de Grace, known as
Anacharsis Clootz. He appears several times in Carlyle's great
epic. Now he introduces a deputation of foreigners of all nations
to the Assembly; later he presents to the Convention "a work
evincing the nullity of all religions." Finally, on March 24th,
1794, he is one of a tumbril-load of victims, nineteen in all, on
the road to the guillotine. "Clootz," says Carlyle, "still with an
air of polished sarcasm, endeavors to jest, to offer cheering
'arguments of Materialism'; he requested to be executed last 'in
order to establish certain principles.' [French Revolution, III, p.
215] Clootz's biographer, Avenel, gives a fuller account of the
scene. "Let me lie under the green sward," exclaimed the great
Atheist, "so that I may be reborn in vegetation." "Nature," he
said, "is a good mother, who loves to see her children appear and
reappear in different forms. All she includes is eternal,
imperishable like herself. Now let me sleep!" [George Avenel,
'Anacharsis Clootz, II, p. 471]

                        ANTHONY COLLINS.

     ANTHONY COLLINS was one of the chief English Freethinkers of
the eighteenth century. Professor Fraser calls him "this remarkable
man." ['Berkeley,' by A.C. Fraser, LL.D, 99] Swift refers to him as
a leading skeptic of that age. He was a barrister, born of a good
Essex family in 1767, and dying on December 13, 1829. Locke, whose
own character was manly and simple, was charmed by him.

     "He praised his love of truth and moral courage," says
Professor Fraser, "as superior to almost any other he had ever
known, and by his will he made him one of his executors." [Ibid]
"Yet bigotry was then so rampant, that Bishop Berkeley, who,
according to Pope, had every virtue under heaven, actually said in
the Guardian that the author of 'A Discourse on Freethinking' 

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"deserved to be denied the common benefits of air and water."
Collins afterwards engaged in controversy with the clergy, wrote
against priestcraft, and debated with Dr. Samuel Clarke " about
necessity and the moral nature of man, stating the arguments
against human freedom with a logical force unsurpassed by any
necessitarian." [Ibid] With respect to Collins's controversy on
"the soul," Professor Huxley says: "I do not think anyone can read
the letters which passed between Clarke and Collins without
admitting that Collins, who writes with wonderful Power and
closeness of reasoning, has by far the best of the argument, so far
as the possible materiality of the soul goes; and that in this
battle the Goliath of Freethinking overcame the champion of what
was considered orthodoxy. [Critiques and Addresses, p. 324]
According to Berkeley, Collins had announced "that he was able to
demonstrate the impossibility of God's existence," but this is
Probably the exaggeration of an opponent. We may be sure, however,
that he was a thorough skeptic with regard to Christianity. His
death is thus referred to in the Biographia Britannica: --

          Notwithstanding all the reproaches cast upon Mr. Collins
     as an enemy to religion, impartiality obliges us to remark,
     what is said, and generally believed to be true, upon his
     death-bed he declared "That, as be had always endeavored, to
     the best of his abilities to serve his God, his King, and his
     country, so he was persuaded he was going to the place which
     God had designed for those who love him": to which he added
     that "The Catholic religion is to love God, and to love man";
     and he advised such as were about him to have a constant
     regard to these principles.

     There is probably a good deal apocryphal in this passage, but
it is worthy of notice that nothing is said about any dread of
death. Another memorable fact is that Collins left his library to
an opponent, Dr. Sykes. It was large and curious, and always open
to men of letters. Collins was so earnest a seeker for truth, and
so candid, a controversialist, that he often furnished his
antagonists with books to confute himself.

                          AUGUSTE COMTE

     COMTE, the founder of Positivism, was born on January 19,
1798. The aim of his philosophy, as set forth on the title-page of
his masterpiece, was to "reorganize society without God or King, by
the systematic culture of Humanity." Owing to a congenital disorder
of the nervous system, he was liable to occasional aberrations of
mind, and he was once put under restraint. But his life was
nevertheless dignified and fruitful, and the literature of social,
political and religious speculation shows what a profound influence
he has exercised on many of the best minds of our age.

     He died on September 5th, 1857, of the painful disease of
cancer in the stomach, M. Littre, his greatest disciple, thus
describes his last days: "The fatal hour arrived, M. Comte, who had
borne his malady with the greatest fortitude, met with no less
firmness the approach of death. His bodily weakness became extreme,
and he expired without pain, having around him some of his most
cherished disciples." [E. Litte, Auguste Comte et la Philosophie 
Positive, p. 643]

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Ribemont in Picardy, in 1743. As early as 1764 he composed a work
on the integral calculus. In 1773 he was appointed perpetual secre-
tary of the French Academy. He was an intense admirer of Voltaire,
and wrote a life of that great man. At the commencement of the
Revolution he ardently embraced the popular cause. In 1791 he
represented Paris in the Legislative Assembly, of which he was
immediately elected secretary. It was on his motion that, in the
following year, all orders of nobility were abolished. Elected by
the Aisne department to the new Assembly of 1792, he was named a
member of the Constitutional Committee, which also included Danton
and Thomas Paine. After the execution of Louis XIV., he was opposed
to the excess of the extreme party. Always showing the courage of
his convictions, he soon became the victim of proscription. "He
cared as little for his life," says Mr. Morley, "as Danton or St.
Just cared for theirs. Instead of coming down among the men of the
plain or the frogs of the Marsh, he withstood the Mountain to its
face." While hiding from those who thirsted for his blood, and
burdened with anxiety as to the fate of his wife and child, he
wrote, without a single book to refer to, his novel and profound
'Esquisse d'un Tableau Historique des Progres de l'Esprit Humain.'
Mr. Morley says that "among the many wonders of an epoch of
portents this feat of intellectual abstraction is not the least
amazing." Despite the odious law that whoever gave refuge to a
proscribed person should suffer death, Condoreet was offered
shelter by a noble-hearted woman, who said "If you are outside the
law, we are not outside humanity." But he would not bring peril
upon her house, and he went forth to his doom. Arrested at Clamart-
sous-Meudon, he was conducted to prison at Bourg-la-Reine. Wounded
in the foot, and exhausted with fatigue and privation, he was flung
into a miserable cell. It was the 27th of March, 1794. "On the
morrow," says Mr. Morley, "when the gaolers came to see him, they
found him stretched upon the ground, dead and stark. So he perished
-- of hunger and weariness, say some; of poison ever carried by him
in a ring, say others." [Miscellanis. by John Morley. Vol. I, p.
75] The Abbe Morellet, in his narrative of the death of Condorcet
(Memoirs, ch. xxiv.), says that the poison was a mixture of
stramonium and opium, but he adds that the surgeon described the
death as due to apoplexy. In any case Condorcet died like a hero,
refusing to save his life at the cost of another's danger.

                     MONCURE DANIEL CONWAY.

     CONWAY was born in Virginia, U.S.A., in 1832. The story of his
life is interesting as a study in the psychology of religions
experience. Originally a Methodist minister, later he became a
Unitarian, and later still a Rationalist with Theistic sympathies.
In 1863 he came to London, and in the same year was appointed
minister of the South Place Chapel (afterwards Institute) London --
an institution which now has its head-quarters in Conway Hall, Red
Lion Square. This ministry he carried on until 1884. During this
time he gradually moved away from his theistic belief, and it is
easy to quote passages from his later writings and speeches which
show his complete rejection of both Christianity and Theism. He
rendered service to the Freethought cause by his outspoken 

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denunciation of the intellectual dishonesty of those who give a
nominal adherence to religious formularies and doctrines which they
do not inwardly accept. His Life of Thomas Paine in two volumes
appeared in 1892.

     Conway died in Paris in 1907. His latest writings and
utterances make it clear that up to the time of his death he took
a keen interest in the progress of Freethought. "To the last I
never found him despairing, never even apathetic," says Mr. J.M. 
Robertson (The Life Pilgrimage of Moncur D. Conway, p. 69.)

                         ROBERT COOPER.

     ROBERT COOPER was Secretary to Robert Owen and editor of the
London Investigator. His lectures on the Bible and the Immortality
of the Soul, and his Holy Scriptures Analyzed, were well known in
the middle decades of the nineteenth century. His pamphlet,
Deathbed Repentance, 1852, is one of the earliest detailed
exposures of the lies fabricated by Christians in regard to the
last days of prominent Freethinkers. He was a thorough-going
materialist and never wavered in this philosophy. He died on May 3,
1868. The 'National Reformer' of July 26, 1868, contains the
following note written by Cooper shortly before his death: --

          At a moment when the hand of death is suspended over me,
     my theological opinions remain unchanged; months of deep and
     silent cogitation, under the pressure of long suffering, have
     confirmed rather than modified them. I calmly await,
     therefore, all risk attached to these convictions. Conscious
     that, if mistaken, I have always been sincere, I apprehend no
     disabilities for impressions I cannot resist.

     Robert Cooper was not related to Thomas Cooper, to whose
lectures on God and a Future Life be wrote a reply in 1856,


     D'ALEMBERT, the founder of the great Encyclopedia, the friend
of Voltaire and the colleague of Diderot, was born on November 16,
1717. His death occurred on October 29, 1783. His opinions on
religion were those of a firm Agnostic. "As for the existence of a
supreme intelligence," he wrote to Frederick the Great, "I think
that those who deny it advance far more than they can prove, and
skepticism is the only reasonable course." He goes on to say,
however, that experience invincibly proves the materiality of the
"soul." "D'Alembert's last moments were in harmony with his
philosophy. According to his friend and executor, Condorcet, his
last days were spent amidst a numerous company, listening to their
conversation, and sometimes enlivening it with pleasantries or
stories. "He only," says Condoreet, "was able to think of other
subjects than himself, and to give himself to gaiety and
amusement." [CEuvres Philosophiques de D'Alembert, Vol. I, p. 131]

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     DANTON, called by Carlyle the Titan of the Revolution, and
certainly its greatest figure after Mirabeau, was guillotined on
April 5, 1794. He was only thirty-five, but he made a name that 
will live as long as the history of France. With all his faults,
says Carlyle, "he was a Man; fiery-real, from the great fire-bosom
of Nature herself." Some of his phrases are like pyramids, standing
sublime above the drifting sand of human speech. It was he who
advised "daring, and still daring, and ever daring." It was he who
cried, "The coalesced kings of Europe threaten us, and as our gage
of battle we fling before them the head of a king." It was he who
exclaimed, in a rapture of patriotism, "Let my name be blighted, so
that France be free." And what a saying was that, when his friends
urged him to flee from the Terror, "One does not carry his country 
with him at the sole of his shore!"

     Danton would not flee. "They dare not" arrest him, he said;
but he was soon a prisoner in the Luxembourg. "What is your name
and abode?" they asked him at the tribunal. "My name is Danton," he
answered, "a name tolerably known in the Revolution: my abode will
soon be Annihilation; but I shall live in the Pantheon of History."
Replying to his infamous indictment, his magnificent voice
"reverberates with the roar of a lion in the toils." The President
rings his bell, enjoining calmness, says Carlyle, in a vehement
manner, "What is it to thee how I defend myself?" cries Danton;
"the right of dooming me is thine always. The voice of a man
speaking for his honor and life may well drown the jingling of thy

     On the way to the guillotine Danton bore himself proudly. Poor
Camille Desmoulins struggled and writhed in the cart, which was
surrounded by a howling mob. "Calm, my friend," said Danton, "heed
not that vile canaille." Herault de Sechelles, whose turn it was to
die first, tried to embrace his friend, but the executioners
prevented him. "Fools," said Danton, "you cannot prevent our heads
from meeting in the basket." At the foot of the scaffold the
thought of home flashed through his mind. "O my wife," he
exclaimed, "my well-beloved, I shall never see thee more then." But
recovering himself, he said, "Danton, no, weakness!" Looking the
executioner in the face, he cried with his great voice, "You will
show my head to the crowd; it is worth showing; you don't see the
like in these days. "The next minute that head, the one that might
have guided France best, was severed from his body by the knife of
the guillotine. What a man this Danton was! With his Herculean
form, his huge black head, his mighty voice, his passionate nature,
his fiery courage, his poignant wit, his geniality, and his freedom
from cant, he was a splendid and unique figure. An Atheist, he
perished in trying to arrest bloodshed. Robespierre, the Deist,
continued the bloodshed till it drowned him. The two men were as
diverse in nature as in creed, and Danton killed by Robespierre, as
Courtois said, was Pyrrhus killed by a woman!

     [The reader may consult Carlyle's French Revolution, Book vi.,
Ch. ii., and Jules Claretie's Camille Desmoulins et les
Dantonistes, Ch. vi.]

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                     CHARLES ROBERT DARWIN.

     DARWIN, the great evolutionist, whose fame is as wide as
civilization, was born at Shrewsbury in 1809. Intended for a
clergyman, he became a naturalist; and although his bump of
reverence was said to be large enough for ten priests, he passed by
gentle stages into the most extreme skepticism. From the age of
forty he was, to use his own words, a complete disbeliever in
Christianity. Further reflection showed him that Nature bore no
evidence of design, and the prevalence of struggle and suffering in
the world compelled him to reject the doctrine of infinite
benevolence. He professed himself an Agnostic, regarding the
problem of the universe as beyond our solution, "For myself," he
wrote, "I do not believe in any revelation. As for a future life,
every man must judge for himself between conflicting vague
probabilities." Robert Lewins, M.D., knew Darwin personally, and
had discussed this question with him. Darwin was much less reticent
to Lewins than he had shown himself in a letter to Haeckel. In
answer to a direct question "as to the bearing of his researches on
the existence of an anima, or soul in man, he distinctly stated
that, in his opinion, a vital or spiritual principle, apart from
inherent somatic (bodily) energy, had no more locus standi in the
human than in the other races of the animal kingdom" ('What is
Religion?' by Constance Naden, p. 52). Yet the Church buried him in
Westminster Abbey "in the sure and certain hope of a glorious

     Darwin died on April 19, 1882, in the plenitude of his fame,
having outlived the opposition of ignorance and bigotry, and
witnessed the triumph of his ideas. His last moments are described
by his eldest son Francis: --

          No special change occurred during the beginning of April,
     but on Saturday 15th he was seized with giddiness while
     sitting at dinner in the evening, and fainted in an attempt to
     reach his sofa. On the 17th he was again better, and in my
     temporary absence recorded for me the progress of an
     experiment in which I was engaged. During the night of April
     18th, about a quarter to twelve, he had a severe attack and
     passed into a faint, from which he was brought back to
     consciousness with great difficulty. He seemed to recognize
     the approach of death, and said "I am not the least afraid to
     die." All the next morning he suffered from terrible nausea
     and faintness, and hardly rallied before the end came.

     No one in his senses would have supposed that he was "afraid
to die," yet it is well to have the words recorded by the son who
was present. In the second edition of 'Infidel Deathbeds' this
notice ended with the words: "Pious ingenuity will be unable to
traduce the deathbed of Charles Darwin." But "pious ingenuity" is
not easily slain. Sir Francis Darwin as recently as January, 1916,
had to refute a lying story about his father's agonizing deathbed,
and the story cropped up again, with embellishments, in The
Churchman's Magazine for March, 1925.

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                         ERASMUS DARWIN.

     ERASMUS DARWIN, the physician, and grandfather of the great
Charles Darwin, was born on December 12, 1731. His death took place
on April 10, 1802. While driving from patient to patient, Erasmus
Darwin composed a lengthy Poem, in which he anticipated many of the
ideas of modern evolution. His skepticism was strongly pronounced.
He believed in God, but not in Christianity. Even the Unitarians
were too orthodox for him; indeed, he called Unitarianism a
feather-bed to catch a falling Christian. His death was singularly
peaceful. "At about seven o'clock," said his grandson, "he was
seized with a violent shivering fit, and went into the kitchen to
warm himself; he retired to his study, lay on the sofa, became
faint and cold, and was moved into an armchair, where, without pain
or emotion of any kind, he expired a little before nine o'clock."
['Charles Darwin,' Life of Erasmus Darwin, p. 126] A few years
before, writing to a friend, he said, When I think of dying it is
always without pain or fear."


     JEAN BAPTIST JOSEPH DELAMBRE, one of the most distinguished
French astronomers, was born at Amiens an September 19, 1749. He
was a pupil of Lalande, and like him an Atheist. He died, after a
long and painful illness, on August 18, 1822. In announcing his
death, a pious journal wrote: "It appears that this savant had the
misfortune to be an unbeliever. We Wish we could announce that
sickness had brought him back to the faith; but we have been unable
to obtain any information to that effect." [L'Ami de la Religion et
du Rio, tome xxxiii, p. 111] "Like Lalande, the dying astronomer
was faithful to the convictions of his life.

                         DENIS DIDEROT.

     RARELY has the world seen a more fecund mind than Diderot's.
Voltaire called him Pantophile, for everything came within the
sphere of his mental activity. The twenty volumes of his collected
writings contain the germ-ideas of nearly all the best thought of
our age, and his anticipations of Darwinism are nothing less than
extraordinary. He had not Voltaire's lightning wit and supreme
grace of style, nor Rousseau's passionate and subtle eloquence; but
he was superior to either of them in depth and solidity, and he was
surprisingly ahead of his time, not simply in his treatment of
religion, but also in his view of social and political problems.
His historical monument is the great Encyclopedia. For twenty years
he labored on this colossal enterprise, assisted by the best heads
in France, but harassed and thwarted by the government and the

     Diderot tasted imprisonment in 1749, and many times afterwards
his liberty was menaced. Nothing, however, could intimidate or
divert him from his task; and he never quailed when the ferocious
beast of persecution, having tasted the blood of meaner victims,
turned an evil and ravenous eye on him.

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     Carlyle's brilliant essay on Diderot is ludicrously unjust.
The Scotch puritan was quite unable to judge the French Atheist. A 
greater than Carlyle wrote: "Diderot is Diderot, a peculiar
individuality; whoever holds him or his doings cheaply is a
Philistine, and the name of them is legion." Goethe's dictum
outweighs that of his disciple.

     Born at Langres in 1713, Diderot died at Paris 1784. His life
was long, active and fruitful. [In Diderot and the Encyclopedists,
Vol. I, p. 39-40, John Morley gives an interesting description of
Diderot's personal appearance.] His conversational powers were
great, and showed the fertility of his genius. "When I recall
Diderot," wrote Maister, "the immense variety of his ideas, the
amazing multiplicity of his knowledge, the rapid flight, the
warmth, the impetuous tumult of his imagination, all the charm and
all the disorder of his conversation, I venture to liken his
character to Nature herself, exactly as he used to conceive her --
rich, fertile, abounding in germs of every sort, gentle and fierce,
simple and majestic, worthy and sublime, but without any dominating
principle, without a master and without a God."

     Checkered as Diderot's life had been, his closing years were
full of peace and comfort. Superstition was mortally wounded, the
Church was terrified, and it was clear that the change the
philosophers had worked for was at hand. As John Morley says, "the
press literally teemed with pamphlets, treatises, poems, histories,
all shouting from the house-tops open destruction to beliefs which
fifty years before were actively protected against so much as a
whisper in the closet. Every form of literary art was seized and
turned into an instrument in the remorseless attack on L'Infame."

     In the Spring of 1784 Diderot was attacked by what be felt was
his last illness. Dropsy set in, and in a few months the end came.
A fortnight before his death he was removed from the upper floor in
the Rue Taranne, which he had occupied for thirty years, to
palatial rooms provided for him by the Czarina in the Rue de
Richelieu. Growing weaker every day he was still alert in mind: --

          He did all he could to cheer the people around him, and
     amused himself and them by arranging his pictures and his
     books. In the evening, to the last, he found strength to
     converse on science and philosophy to the friends who were
     eager as ever for the last gleanings of his prolific
     intellect. Tn the last conversation that his daughter heard
     him carry on, his last words were the pregnant aphorisin that
     the first step towards philosophy is incredulity.

          On the evening of the 30th July, 1784, he sat down to
     table, and at the end of the meal took an apricot. His wife,
     with kind solicitude, remonstrated. Mais quel diable de nial
     veux-tu que cela me fasse? (How the deuce can that hurt me?)
     he said, and ate the apricot. Then he rested his elbow on the
     table, trifling with some sweetmeats, His wife asked him a
     question; on receiving no answer, she looked up and saw he was
     dead. He had died as the Greek poets say that men died in the
     golden age -- they passed away as if mastered by Sleep.
     [Morley, Vol. II, p. 259-260]

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     Grimm gives a slightly different account of Diderot's death,
omitting the apricot, and stating that his words to his wife were,
"It is long since I have eaten with so much relish." [Quoted from
the 'Revue Retrospective in Assezat's complete edition of Diderot]
The cur'e of St. Roch, in whose parish he died, had scrupled at
first about burying him, on account of his skeptical reputation and
the doctrines expounded in his writings; but the priest's scruples
were overcome, partly by a present of "fifteen or eighteen thousand

     According to Morley, an effort was made to convert Diderot, or
at least to wring from him something like a retractation: --

          The priest of St. Sulpice, the center of the philosophic
     quarter came to visit him three or four times a week, hoping
     to achieve at least the semblance of a conversion. Diderot did
     not encourage conversation on theology, but when pressed he
     did not refuse it. One day when they found, as two men of
     sense will always find, that they had ample common ground in
     matters of morality and good works, the priest ventured to
     hint that an exposition of such excellent maxims, accompanied
     by a slight retraction of Diderot's previous works, would have
     a good effect on the world. "I dare say it would, monsieur le
     curd, but confess that I should be acting an impudent lie."
     And no word of retractation was ever made. [Morley Vol. II, p.

     If judging men by the company they keep is a safe rule, we
need have no doubt as to the sentiments which Diderot entertained
to the end. Grimm tells us that on the morning of the very day he
died " he conversed for a long time and with the greatest freedom
with his friend the Baron D'Holbach," the famous author of the
System of Nature, compared with whom, says Morley, "the most eager
Nascent or Denier to be found in the ranks of the assailants of
theology in our own day is timorous and moderate." These men were
the two most earnest Atheists of their generation. Both were
genial, benevolent, and conspicuously generous. D'Holbach was
learned, eloquent, and trenchant; and Diderot, in Comte's opinion,
was the greatest genius of the eighteenth century.

                         ETIENNE DOLET.

     ETIENNIC (Stephen) DOLET, the great French printer, whose name
is inseparably connected with the Revival of learning, was hanged
and burnt at Lyons on August 3, 1546. The Church gave him the
martyr's crown on his thirty-seventh birthday. He was a heretic,
and he paid the penalty exacted from all who dared to think for
themselves. As Mr. Christie remarks, he was "neither a Protestant
nor a Catholic." His contemporaries were fully persuaded of his
Atheism. "Philosophy has alone the right," says the great French
historian, "to claim on its side the illustrious victim of the
Place Maubert." [Henri Martin, Histoire de France, Vol. II, p. 343]

     Dolet got his first taste of persecution in 1533, when he was
thrown into prison for denouncing in a Latin oration the burning
alive of Jean de Cartuce at Toulouse. During the remaining thirteen
years of his life he was five times imprisoned, and nearly half his
days were spent in confinement.

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     Sentence of death for blasphemy was pronounced on Dolet in the
Chambre Ardents at Paris on August 2, 1546. He was condemned to be
hanged, and then burnt with his books on the Place Maubert; and his
widow and children were beggared by the confiscation of his goods
to the king. It was also ordered that he should be put to the
torture before his execution, and questioned about his companions;
and "if the said Dolet shall cause any scandal or utter any
blasphemy, his tongue shall be cut out, and he shall be burnt
alive." The next day be met his doom. He was hanged first, and then
(for they were not very particular), probably while he still
breathed, the faggots were lighted, and Dolet and his books were
consumed in the flames. It is said that instead of a prayer he
uttered a pun in Latin -- Non dolet ipse Dolet, sed pia turba
doiet. -- "Dolet himself does not grieve, but the pious crowd
grieves." Yet the confessor who attended him at the stake invented
the miserable falsehood that the martyr had acknowledged his
errors. "I do not believe a word of it," wrote the great Erasmus,
"it is the usual story which these people invent after the death of
their victims." Dolet's real sentiments are expressed in the noble
cantique, full of resignation and courage, which he composed in
prison when death was imminent. A Rongh translation: -- "A good
heart, sustained with patience, never bends under evil, bewails or
moans, but is always victor. Courage, my soul, and show such a
heart; let your confidence be seen in trial; every noble heart,
every constant warrior, maintains his fortitude even unto death,"
[Authorities: R.C. Christie, 'Enenne Dolet,' Joseph Boulmier,
'Enenne Dolet.']

                          GEORGE ELTOT.

     MARIAN EVANS, afterwards Mrs. Lewes, and finally Mrs. Cross,
was one of the greatest writers of the third quarter of the
nineteenth century. The noble works of fiction she published under
the pseudonym of George Eliot are known to all. Her earliest
writing was done for the Westminster Review, a magazine of marked
skeptical tendency. Her inclination to Freethought is further shown
by her translation of Strauss's famous Life of Jesus and
Feuerbach's Essence of Christianity, the latter being the work of
a profound Atheist. George Eliot was, to some extent, a disciple of
Comte, and reckoned a member of the Society of Positivists. Mr.
Myers tells us that in the last conversation he had with her at
Cambridge, they talked of God, Immortality and Duty, and she
gravely remarked how hypothetical was the first, how improbable was
the second, and how sternly real the last. Whenever in her novels
she speaks in the first person she breathes the same sentiment. Her
biography has been written by her second husband, who says that
"her long illness in the autumn had left her no power to rally. She
passed away about ten o'clock at night on the 22nd of December,
1880. She died, as she would herself have chosen to die, without
protracted pain, and with every faculty brightly vigorous." "Her
body lies in the next grave to that of George Henry Lewes at
Highgate Cemetery; her spirit, the product of her life has, in her
own words, joined " the choir invisible, whose music is the
gladness of the world."

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                        FRANCISCO FERRER.

     FERRER was born in 1859. He founded his "Modern School," which
was purely secular, at Barcelona in September, 1901. "No priest and
no religion, no prayers, and no devotions inspired by any creed of
supernaturalistic affinities, found shelter under its auspices."
This roused the bitter antagonism of the clergy, who stirred up the
authorities against him. Perrer was imprisoned and his property
confiscated; but new schools were established in many localities.
On May 31, 1906, a bomb explosion at Madrid furnished the pretext
for serious charges against him. Three years later another pretext
was furnished by a civil disturbance in Barcelona. He was falsely
charged with complicity in the rising and condemned to be shot, a
sentence which was carried out on October 12, 1909 (See the
articles by Mr. William Heaford in the Freethinker, May 14, and
June 7, 1931).

                    LUDWIG ANDREAS FEUERBACH.

     FEUERBACH was born in Bavaria in 1804. After studying theology
for two years he abandoned it to devote himself to philosophy. In
1828 he became a lecturer in the University of Erlangen, but soon
had to retire owing to the offence caused by his Thoughts on Death
and Immortality, in which he attacks the belief in an immortal
"soul." His Essence of Christianity appeared in 1841, and the
English translation by George Eliot in 1853. Brewin Grant, of
considerable notoriety at one time as a Christian of the
evangelical type, said: "Goethe, Feuetbach, R.B. Sheridan, all died
in despair." We happen, however, to know in detail the story of
Fenerbach's last days. His friend, Carl Scholl, who delivered an
address at his grave, visited him every morning during his last
illness. Scholl says that Feuerbach was suffering from, bronchitis
and endured severe pain with great fortitude. He died on September
13, 1872, "in a slumber so peaceful that those present scarcely
noticed that he was dead." (Scholl, Dem Andenken Ludwig Feuerbachs,
1872, p. 13-16.)

                      GEORGE WILLIAM FOOTE.

     FOOTE was born in Plymouth on January 11, 1850. He was brought
up in the Anglican communion, and in early youth became
"converted." But he was essentially of the number of those who are
destined by Nature to examine the grounds of their opinions on
religion or any other subject. Before he was eighteen he rejected
as untenable the claims made on behalf of the Bible. In 1868 he
came to London, where he joined the Young Men's Secular Association
and was soon working energetically for Freethought and
Republicanism. Both as a speaker and as a writer he early showed a
power of thought and expression which, combined with utter
fearlessness, was to make him later so great an asset to the
Freethought cause. "Free Lance," writing on "Secular Progress in
1871," in the National Secular Society's Almanack, 1872 (P. 24),
said: "We have also two young lecturers of great promise, Mr. G.
Bishop and Mr. G.W. Foote." During the decade 1870-1880 Foote
contributed to the Secular Chronicle and the National Reformer,
founded, in conjunction with G.J. Holyoake, the Secularist, edited
the Liberal, and wrote a number of pamphlets, among which may be 

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mentioned: Heroes and Martyrs of Freethought, and God, the Soul and
A Future State: a Reply to Thomas Cooper. In 1881 he established
the Freethinker, a journal that was destined to become a powerful
factor in spreading Freetholight throughout England. From 1883 to
1887 be edited Progress, which contained many articles of high
literary merit.

     Though the prosecutions of Foote for "blasphemous libels"
published in the Freethinker, constitute an important chapter in
the story of his life, it is impossible here to enter into details 
concerning them. He was served with his first summons in July,
1882, and at the Court of Queen's Bench was compelled to find
securities for 600. (English pounds) The next trial arose out of
the illustrations in the Christmas number of the same year and had
more serious consequences. For this offence he was, in March, 1883,
sentenced by Judge North, a Roman Catholic, to twelve months'
imprisonment. Nearly two months later Foote was tried again on the
first indictment, before Lord Chief Justice Coleridge, and defended
himself in a speech which is now one of the classics in the
literature of its kind. For a detailed account of these
prosecutions the reader is referred to Foote's Prisoiner for
Blasphemy, and the Defence of Free Speech. The latter has just been
republished by the Pioneer Press, and contains an interesting
Introduction by Mr. H. Cutner.

     Apart from his thirty-five years' work on the Freethinker,
during the whole of this period Foote was in various other ways --
writing books and pamphlets, lecturing and debating -- serving the
cause to which he had early decided to devote his life. In 1882
appeared 'The God the Christians Swear by,' during Charles
Bradlaugh's parliamentary struggle, 'Blasphemy no crime,' and
'Death's Test,' afterwards enlarged into 'Infidel Deathbeds.' The
last, like 'A Lie in Five Chapters?' (1892), in which he ran to
earth the story of a "converted Atheist," which the Rev. Hugh Price
Hughes had started, was more than an exposure of "lying for the
glory of God." Foote discerned as clearly as any man ever did the
influence of superstitious beliefs on personality, and the fatal
ease with which they are made to serve the purposes of the
professional soul-saver. 'The Bible Handbook,' in which W.P. Ball
collaborated, appeared in 1885, and 'Crimes of Christianity in
1887. In producing the latter, which is a veritable store-house of
historical facts for the Freethought propagandist, he had the
assistance of his life-long friend, J.M. Wheeler. 'Rome or Atheism'
(1892) shows that power of going straight to the point which
characterized all Foote's work. It also shows exactly where he
himself stood. The Newman brothers are made the text for a keen
analysis of the Roman Catholic's "certitude" and the Protestant's
"right to private judgment"; the disintegration of Protestantism is
seen to be inevitable; and the field will be left to the two great
protagonists who already "march steadily forward to their
Armageddon." His views on death and a future life are concisely
expressed in "The Gospel of Secularism," contributed to Religious
Systems of the World. The Secularist, he says, will give no assent
to any proposition of whose truth he is not assured, and "declines
to traffic in supernatural hopes and fears."

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     Foote appreciated every great piece of literature, and his
knowledge of ancient and modern writers, and of ecclesiastical
history, was almost encyclopedic. Some of his finest literary
criticism may be found in 'Shakespeare and Other Literary Essays.'
(Pioneer Press, 1929.)

     Ever since Foote entered upon his campaign in London a large
proportion of his time was spent in lectures and debates in
different parts of Great Britain. He was a powerful speaker, clear
and logical, at times very witty, and in his perorations rising to
heights of real oratory.

     In 1890 he succeeded Bradlaugh as President of the National
Secular Society -- a position which he held for twenty-five years.
Through his instrumentality The Secular Society, Limited, was
formed in 1898: it affords legal security to the acquisition, by
bequest or otherwise, of funds for Secular purposes. The decision
of the House of Lords in the Bowman case makes this security 

     Foote died on October 17, 1915. The details of his last
illness and death are related in the Freethinker of October 31,
1915, by Mr. Chapman Cohen, who speaks with full knowledge of the
facts --

          To me it will always be some consolation that he died as
     he would have wished -- in harness . . . When I saw him on the
     Friday (two days) before his death he said, "I have had
     another setback, but I am a curious fellow and may get all
     right again." But he looked the fact of death in the face with
     the same courage and determination that he faced Judge North
     many years ago. A few hours before he died he said calmly to
     those around him, "I am dying." And when the end came his head
     dropped back on the pillow, and with a quiet sigh, as of one
     falling to sleep, he passed away.

                      FREDERICK THE GREAT.

     FREDERICK THE GREAT, the finest soldier of his age, the maker
of Prussia, and therefore the founder of modern Germany, was born
in 1712. His life forms the theme of Carlyle's masterpiece.
Notoriously a disbeliever in Christianity, as his writings and
correspondence attest, he loved to surround himself with
Freethinkers, the most conspicuous of whoin was Voltaire. When the
great French heretic died, Frederick pronounced his eulogium before
the Berlin Academy, denouncing "the imbecile priests," and
declaring that "the best destiny they can look for is that they and
their vile artifices will remain forever buried in the darkness of
oblivion, while the fame of Voltaire will increase from age to age,
and transmit his name to immortality."

     When the old king was on his death-bed, one of his subjects,
solicitous about his immortal soul, sent him a letter full of pious
advice. "Let this, he said, "be answered civilly; the intention of
the writer is good." Shortly after, on August 17, 1786, Frederick
died in his own fashion. Carlyle says: --

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          For the most part he was unconscious, never more than
     half conscious. As the wall clock above his head struck
     eleven, he asked: What o'clock?" "Eleven," answered they. "At
     four," murmured he, "I will arise." One of his dogs sat on its
     stool near him; about midnight he noticed it shivering for
     cold: "Throw a quilt over it," said or beckoned he; that, I
     think, was his last completely conscious utterance.
     Afterwards, in a severe choking fit, getting at last rid of
     the phlegm, he said, "La montagne est passle nous irons mieux
     -- We are on the hill, we shall go better now." [Frederick the
     Great, Vol. VI, p. 694, edition, 1869]

     Better it was. The pain was over, and the brave old king, who
had wrestled with all Furope and thrown it, succumbed quietly to
the inevitable defeat which awaits us all.

                         LEON GAMBETTA.

     GAMBETTA was the greatest French orator and statesman of his
age. He was one of those splendid and potent figures who redeem 
nations from commonplace. To him, more than to any other man, the
present Republic owes its existence. He played deeply for it in the
great game of life and death after Sedan, and by his titantic
organization of the national defence he made it impossible for
Louis Napoleon to reseat himself on the throne with the aid of
German bayonets. Again, in 1877, he saved the Republic he loved so
well from the monarchial conspirators. He defeated their base
attempt to subvert a nation's liberties, but the struggle sapped
his enormous vitality, which had already been impaired by the
terrible labours of his Dictatorship. He died at the early age of
forty-four, having exhausted his strength in fighting for freedom.

     Like almost every eminent Republican, Cambetta was a
Freethinker. As Mr. Frederic Harrison says, "he systematically and
formally repudiated any kind of acceptance of theology." During his
lifetime he never entered a Church, even when attending a marriage
or a funeral, but stopped short at the door, and let who would go
inside and listen to the mummery of the priest. In his own
expressive words, he declined to be "rocked asleep by the myths of
childish religions." He professed himself an admirer and a disciple
of Voltaire -- l'admirateur et le disciple de Voltaire. Every
member of his ministry was a Freethinker, and one of them, the
eminent scientist Paul Bert, a militant Atheist. Speaking at a
public meeting not long before his death, Cambetta called Comte the
greatest thinker of this century; that Comte who proposed to
"reorganize society, without God and without king, by the
systematic cultus of humanity."

     When John Stuart Mill died, a Christian journal, which died
itself a few weeks after, declared he had gone to hell, and wished
all his friends, and disciples would follow him. Several pions
prints expressed similar sentiments with regard to Ganibetta.
Passing by the English papers, let us look at a few French ones.
The Due de Broglie's organ, naturally anxious to insult the
statesman who had so signally beaten him, said that "he died  

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suddenly after hurling defiance at God." The 'Pays,' edited by that
pious bully, Paul de Cassagnac, said -- "He dies, paisoned by his
own blood. He set himself up against God. He has fallen. It is
fearful. But it is just."

     These tasteful exhibitions of Christian charity show that
Gambetta lived and died a Freethinker. Yet the sillier sort of
Christians have not scrupled to insinuate and even argue, that he
was secretly a believer. One asinine priest, M. Feuillet des
Conches, formerly Vicar of Notre Dame des Victoires, and then
honorary Chamberlain to the Pope, stated in the London Tiines that,
about two years before his death, Gambetta came to his church with
a brace of big wax tapers which he offered in memory of his mother.
He also added that the great orator knelt before the Virgin, dipped
his finger in holy water, and made the sign of the cross. Was there
ever a more absurd story? Gambetta was a remarkable Looking man,
and extremely well known. He could not have entered a church
unobserved, and had he done so, the story would have gone round 
Paris the next day. Yet nobody heard of it till after his death.
Either the priest mistook some portly dark man for Gambetta, or he
was guilty of a pious fraud.

     According to another story, Gambetta said "I am lost," when
the doctors told him he could not recover. But the phrase Je suis
perdu has no theological significance. Nothing is more misleading
than a literal translation. Gambetta simply meant "It is all over
then." This monstrous perversion of a simple phrase could only have
arisen from sheer malice or gross ignorance of French.

     While lying on his death-bed Gambetta listened to Rabelais,
Moligre, and other favourite but not very pious authors, read aloud
by a young student who adored him. Almost his last words, as
recorded in the 'Times,' were these -- "Well, I have suffered so
much, it will be a deliverance." The words are calm, collected, and
truthful. There is no rant and no quailing. It is the natural
language of a strong man confronting Death after long agony.
Shortly after he breathed his last. No priest administered "the
consolations of religion," and he expressly ordered that he should
be buried without religious rites.


     GIUSEPPE GARIBALDI's name is a household word in every
civilized country. His romantic life and superb achievements are
too well known to need any recital in these pages. The Lion of
Caprera found the priests the greatest enemies of his beloved
Italy, and he hated them accordingly. "The priest," he says in the
preface to his Memoirs, "the priest is the personification of
falsehood, the liar is a thief, and the thief an assassin."
[Garibaldi, Memorie Autobiografiche, p. 2] His English biographer,
Theodore Bent, admits that in his old age he grew more and more
sceptical. "One of his laconic letters of 1880," he says,
"illustrates this. It was as follows: 'Dear friends, -- Man has
created God, not God man. Yours ever, Garibaldi.'"

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     We have no account of Garibaldi's last moments, but he died
daily in his crippled and helpless old age, and his cheerful 
fortitude was known to all. He desired his body to be cremated, and
gave strict orders that no priest should officiate at his funeral.
He also had his sarcophagus built at Caprera, but the family
yielded to the wish of the Government, and he was buried at Rome.

                          ISAAC GENDRE.

     THE controversy over the death of this Swiss Freethinker was
summarized in the London 'Echo' of July 29, 1881: --

          A second case of death-bed conversion of an eminent
     Liberal to Roman Catbolicism, suggested probably by that of
     the great French philologist Littre, has passed the round of
     the Swiss papers. A few days ago the veteran leader of the
     Freiburg Liberals, M. Isaac Gendre, died. The 'Ami du Peuple,'
     the organ of the Freiburg Ultramontanes, immediately set
     afloat the sensational news that when M. Gendre found that his
     last hour was approaching, he sent his brother to fetch a
     priest, in order that the last sacraments might be
     administered to him, and the evil which he had done during his
     life by his persistent Liberalism might be atoned by his
     repentance at the eleventh hour, This brother, M. Alexandre
     Gendre, now writes to the paper stating that there is not one
     word of truth in this story. What possible benefit can any
     Church derive from the invention of such tales? Doubtless
     there is a credulous residuum which believes that there must
     be "some truth" in anything which has once appeared in print.

     It might be added that many people readily believe what
pleases them, and that a lie which has a good start is very hard to
run down.

                         EDWARD GIBBON.

     EDWARD GIBBON, greatest of modem historians, was born at
Putney, near London, on April 27, 1737. His monumental work, the
'Decline and Fall of the Roinan Empire,' which Carlyle called "the
splendid bridge from the old world to the new," is universally
known and admired. To have your name mentioned by Gibbon, said
Thackeray, is like having it written on the dome of St. Peter's,
which is seen by pilgrims from all parts of the earth. Twenty years
of his life were devoted to his colossal History, which
incidentally conveys his opinion of many problems. His views on
Christianity are indicated in his famous fifteenth chapter, which
is a masterpiece of grave and temperate irony. When Gibbon wrote
that "it was not in this world that the primitive Christians were
desirous of making themselves either agreeable or useful," every
sensible reader understood his meaning.

     Gibbon did not long survive the completion of his great woirk.
The last volumes of the Decline and Fall were published on May 8,
1788, and he died on January 14, 1794, His malady was dropsy. After
being twice tapped in November, he removed to the house of his
devoted friend, Lord Sheffield. A week before he expired he was
obliged for the sake of the highest medical attendance, to return
to his lodgings in St. James's Street, London. The following
account of his last moments was written by Lord Sheffield: --

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          During the evening he complained much of his stomach, and
     of a feeling of nausea. Soon after nine he took his opium
     draught and went to bed. About ten he complained of much pain,
     and desired that warm napkins might be applied to his stomach.
     He almost incessantly expressed a sense of pain till about
     four o'clock in the morning, when he said he found his stomach
     much easier. About seven the servant asked whether he should
     send for Mr. Farquhar (the doctor). He answered, No; that he
     was as well as the day before. At about half-past eight be got
     out of bed, and said he was "plus adroit" than he had been for
     three mouths past, and got into bed again without assistance,
     better than usual. About nine he said he would rise. The
     servant, however, persuaded him to remain in bed till Mr.
     Parquhar, who was expected at eleven, should come. Till about
     that hour be spoke with great facility. Mr. Farquhar came at
     the time appointed, and he was then visibly dying. When the
     valet-de-chambre returned, after attending Mr. Farquhar out of
     the room, Mr. Gibbon said, " Pour-quoi est ec que vous me
     quittez?" (Why do you leave me?) This was about half-past
     eleven. At twelve o'clock he drank some brandy and water from
     a teapot, and desired his favourite servant to stay with him.
     These were the last words he pronounced articulately. To the
     last he preserved his senses; and when he could no longer
     speak, his servant having asked a question, he made a sign to
     show that he understood him. He was quite tranquil, and did
     not stir, his eyes half shut. About a quarter before one he
     ceased to breathe. [The valet-de-chambre observed that he did
     not, at any time, evince the least sign of alarm or
     apprehension of death.] -- (Last Days of Gibbon, in Milman's
     edition of Gibbon, Vol. I., Introduction.)

     James Cotter Morison, in his admirable monograph on Gibbon,
which forms a volume of Macmillan's "English Men of Letters"
series, quotes the whole of this passage with the exception of the
last sentence. In our opinion the words we show in brackets are the
most important in the extract, and should not have been withheld.

                         WILLIAM GODWIN.

     WILLIAM GODWIN, the author of 'Political Justice' and the
father-in-law of Shelley, was born on March 3, 1756, and died on
April 7, 1836. Only a few days before his death he wrote to his
daughter, Mrs. Shelley, as follows: --

          I leave behind me a manuscript, in a considerable state
     of forwardness for the press, entitled, 'The Genius of
     Christianity Unveiled: in a Series of Essays.' I am most
     unwilling that this, the concluding work of a long life, and
     written, as I believe, in the full maturity of my
     understanding, should be consigned to oblivion. It has been
     the main object of my life, since I attained to years of
     discretion, to do my part to free the human mind from slavery.
     I adjure you therefore, or whomsoever else into whose hands
     these papers may fall, not to allow them to be consigned to

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     Mrs Shelley seems to have disregarded this solemn adjuration,
for the work was not published till 1873, when it was issued by
Kegan Paul, to whose Life of William Godwin we are indebted.


     JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE was born in Frankfort-on-the-Main,
on August 28, 1749, and died on March 22, 1832. Throughout the
civilized world there are few places where the centenary of his
death was not commemorated last year. Goethe's hostility to
everything fundamental in Christian theology was unyielding, and
continued from about his seventeenth year to the end of his long
life. Heine, in his De l'Allemagne, notices Goethe's "vigorous
heathen nature" and his "militant antipathy to Christianity," and
on the Continent hardly anyone would impugn the accuracy of this
statement. As a young man his antagonism to the historic faith
caused a marked estrangement between him and some of his friends.
In 1788, after his return from his prolonged stay in Italy, he
openly declared himself a Pagan whose ideals and world-view
accorded largely with those of Lucretius. Some of his letters to
Lavater, Jacobi, Schiller and Zelter, contain unsparing criticism
of Christianity and the claims made for it.

     Goethe's "truly Julian hatred of Christianity" became less
intense with advancing years; but throughout life he rejected its
cardinal doctrines on intellectual grounds and regarded some of
them as serious hindrances to the growth of personality.
Christianity's attitude to Nature, the doctrine of total depravity,
the cult of sorrow and its extremely unfavourable influence on art,
and the orthodox scheme of salvation generally -- all these
elements of the faith strongly repelled Goethe.

     In his later years he avowed to Eckermann, a kind of German
Boswell who has left us in his 'Conversations with Goethe' many
interesting notes on the poet and his Weimar circle of friends,
that the name which he would prefer to all others was 'Befreier'
("liberator"). Only eleven days before his death, writing to
Eckermann, he said that Biblical questions can be viewed from two
standpoints, either as a study in religious origins or from the
standpoint of the Church, which, feeble and transitory as it is,
will continue as long as there are weak human beings in existence
to need her good offices. In his letters to Zelter, the musician,
one of the dearest of all his friends -- Goethe's last letters,
written after he had entered his eighties -- are numerous passages
showing his repugnance to Christianity's low estimate of human
nature. His last letter to Zelter, a long one dated March 11, 1832,
does not contain a word directly bearing on religion, but near the
end there is a remark so Goethean to the core that it deserves
quotation: "It is strange that the English, the French, and now the
Germans, too, like to express themselves incomprehensibly, just as
others like to listen to what is incomprehensible." Again and again
in reading Goethe we note this detestation of obscurantisin, of
that verbiage which expressed nothing real, and which he was never
weary of arraigning as one of the banefill infiliences of his time.

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     Goethe as a thinker and investigator in the domain of natural
science has been the subject of interesting dissertations by 
Helmholtz and Virchow. The notion of evolution, in its broadest
aspect, had taken complete possession of him.

     It, would be interesting to consider at length the poet's
views on Theism. Occasionally he speaks like a thorough-going
Agnostic, sometimes like a Pantheist, and frequently when he refers
to God he qualifies the word with a possessive pronoun -- "my,"
"your," "his," or "their" God occurs fairly often. "If an ultimate
phenomenon," he said to Eckermann, "has astonished us, we ought to
rest content, nothing higher can be granted to us, and we ought not
to seek anything behind it."

     All attempts to prove that Goethe believed in immortality, in
the Christian sense, are futile. Here is his opinion on this
subject, as expressed when he was seventy-five years old: --

          This occupation with ideas of immortality is for people
     of rank, and especially for ladies who have nothing to do. But
     a man of real worth who has something to do here, and must
     toil and struggle to produce day by day, leaves the future
     world to itself, and is active and useful in this.

     This does not reflect the mood of the moment, it represents
Goethe's typical attitude to the question of man's survival of
physical death.

     On March 22, 1832, Germany's greatest son, the poet and
thinker whom Strauss declared to be "a world in himself," died an
almost ideal death. His suffering was slight and he had no
consciousness of the approaching end. Eckerrnann saw his body
prepared for burial, and noted the peace and firmness of the
features -- " a perfect man lay in great beauty before me." "More
light!" This was the poet's last utterance. His meaning was of
course purely physical, but it was symbolic of his life and his
life's work.

     Authorities: The reader may consult the Freethinker of January
31 and February 7, 1932.

                          GEORGE GROTE.

     GEORGE GROTIE, the author of our classic History of Greece,
was born on November 17, 1794. He was a disciple of Bentham and a
confirmed Atheist. His death, which occurred on June 18, 1871, was
full of serenity. "Early in the month of June," writes Mrs. Grote,
"a marked change supervened, and at the end of three weeks his
honourable, virtuous, and laborious course was closed by a tranquil
and painless death."

     The Rev. Peter Anton, in his 'Masters of History,' obviously
takes his account of Grote's death from this source, but it is
worth noticing that he enhances, instead of weakening, the
panegyric. "The great historian," he says, "passed away tranquilly
and without pain; and thus was brought to a close a career
singularly devoted, conscientious, and laborious, a life rich in 

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virtue and honour and the esteem of the wise and the good." Three
centuries ago Grote might have been burnt to death; but the
custodians of Westminster Abbey are now anxious to enrich their
precincts with celebrities, and the Atheist historian is interred
there with Freethinkers like Ephraim Chambers, Sir Charles Lyell,
and Charles Darwin.


     HELVETIUS, the French philosopher, was born in 17I5. His death
took place on December 26, 1771. By, accident or negligence, his
famoxis treatise, 'L'Esprit,' passed the censorship; but, on its
true character being recognized, the censor was cashiered, and the
author dismissed from an honorary post in the Queen's household.
The indictment, says Mr. Morley, described the work as a
"collection into one cover of everything that impiety could
imagine, calculated to engender hatred against Christianity and
Catholicism." "The book was publicly burnt, and the same fire
consumed Voltaire's poem on Natural Religion. Here is a passage
which may help to explain its fate: --

          It is fanaticism that puts arms into the hands of
     Christian princes; it orders Catholics to massacre heretics;
     it brings out upon the earth again those tortures that were
     invented by such monsters as Phalaris, as Busiris, as Nero; in
     Spain it piles and lights up the fires of the Inquisition,
     while the pious Spaniards leave their ports and sail across
     distant seas, to plant the Cross and spread desolation in
     America. Turn your eyes to north or south, to east or west; on
     every side you see the consecrated knife of Religion raised
     against the breasts of women, of children, of old men, and the
     earth all smoking with the blood of victims immolated to false
     gods or the Supreme Being, and prescilting one vast, sickening
     horrible chariiel-house of intolerance.

     Marmotitel described Helvetius as "liberal, generous,
unostentatious, and benevolent." His death was mourned by a wide
circle of friends and dependants. "Day by day," says Condorcet, "he
felt his strength failing, An attack of gout, which flew to the
head and chest, deprived him at first of consciousness, and soon of
life." [Essay by Condorcet, prefixed to the AEuvres of Helvetius

                       HENRY HETHERINGTON.

     HENRY HFTHERINGTON, one of the heroes of "the free press," was
born at Compton Street, Soho, London, in 1792. He very early became
an ardent reformer. In 1830 the Government obtained three
convictions against him for publishing the 'Poor Man's Guardian,'
and he was lodged for six mounths in Clerkenwell gaol. At the end
of 1832 he was again imprisoned there for six months, his treatment
being most cruel. An opening, called a window, but without a pane
of glass, let in the rain and snow by day and night. In 1841 he was
a third time incarcerated in the Queen's Bench prison for four
months. This time his crime was "blasphemy," in other words,
publishing Haslam's 'Letters to the Clergy.' He died on August 24,
1849, in his fifty-seventh year, leaving behind him his Last Will 
and Testament, from which we take the following extracts: --

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          As life is uncertain, it behoves every one to make
     preparations for death; I deem it therefore a duty incumbent
     on me, ere I quit this life, to express in writing, for the
     satisfaction and guidance of esteemed friends, my feelings and
     opinions in reference to our common principles. I adopt this
     course that no mistake or misapprehension may arise through
     the false reports of those who officiously and obtrusively
     obtain access to the death-beds of avowed infidels to
     priesteraft and superstition; and who, by their annoying
     importunities, labour to extort from an opponent, whose
     intellect is already worn out and subdued by protracted
     physical suffering, some trifling admission, that they may
     blazon it forth to the world as a Death-bed Confession, and a
     triumph of Christianity over infidelity.

          In the first place, then, I calmly and deliberately
     declare that I do not believe in the popular notion of the
     existence of an Almighty, All-Wise and Benevolent God --
     possessing intelligence, and conscious of his own operations;
     because these attributes involve such a mass of absurdities
     and contradictions, so much cruelty and injustice on his part
     to the poor and destitute portion of his creatures -- that, in
     my opinion, no rational reflecting mind can, after
     disinterested investigation, give credence to the existence of
     such a Being. 2nd. I believe death to be an eternal sleep --
     that I shall never live again in this world, or another, with
     a consciousness that I am the same identical person that once
     lived, performed the duties, and exercised the functions of a
     human being. 3rd. I consider priesteraft and superstition the
     greatest obstacle to human improvement and happiness. During
     my life I have, to the best of my ability, sincerely and
     strenuously exposed and opposed them, and die with a firm
     conviction that Truth, Justice, and Liberty will never be
     permanently established on earth till every vestige of
     priesteraft and superstition shall be utterly destroyed. 4th.
     I have ever considered that the only religion useful to man
     consists exclusively of the practice of morality, and in the
     mutual interchange of kind actions. In such a religion there
     is no room for priests -- and when I see them interfering at
     our births, marriages and deaths, pretending to conduct us
     safely through this state of being to another and happier
     world, any disinterested person of the least shrewdness and
     discernment must perceive that their sole aim is to stultify
     the minds of the people by their incomprehensible doctrines,
     that they may the more effectually fleece the poor deluded
     sheep who listen to their empty babblings and mystifications.
     5th. As I have lived so I die, a determined opponent to their
     nefarious and plundering system. I wish my friends, therefore,
     to deposit my remains in unconsecrated ground, and trust they
     will allow no priest, or clergyman of any denomination, to
     interfere in any way whatever at my funeral. My earnest desire
     is, that no relation or friend shall wear black or any kind of
     mourning, as I consider it contrary to our rational principles
     to indicate respect for a departed friend by complying with a
     hypocritical custom. 6th. I wish those who respect me, and who
     have laboured in our common cause, to attend my relnains to
     their last resting place, not so much in consideration of the 

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     individual, as to do honour to our just, benevolent and
     rational principles. I hope all true Rationalists will leave
     pompous displays to the tools of priesteraft and superstition.

     Hetherington wrote this Testament nearly two years before his
death, but he signed it with a firm hand three days before he
breathed his last, in the presence of Thomas Cooper, who left it at
the Reasoner office for "the inspection of the curicus or
sceptical." Thomas Cooper became a Christian, but he could not
repudiate what he printed at the time, or destroy his "personal
testimony," as he called it, to the consistency with which
Hetherington died in the principles of Freethought.

                         THOMAS HOBBES.

     THE Philosopher of Malmesbury, as he is often called, was one
of the clearest and boldest thinkers that ever lived. His
theological proclivities are well expressed in his witty aphorism
that superstition is religion out of fashion, and religion 
superstition in fashion. Although a courageous thinker, Hobbes was
physically timid. This fact is explained by the circumstances of
his birth. In the spring Of 1588 all England was alarmed at the
news that the mighty Spanish Armada had set sail for the purpose of
deposing Queen Elizabeth, bringing the country under a foreign
yoke, and re-establishing the power of the papacy. In sheer fright,
the wife of the vicar of Westport, now part of Malmesbury, gave
premature birth to her second son on Good Friday, the 5th of April.
This seven months' child used to say, in later life, that his
mother brought forth himself and a twin brother Fear. He was
delicate and nervous all his days. Yet through strict temperance he
reached the great age of ninety-one, dying on the 4th of December,

     This parson's son was destined to be hated by the clergy for
his heresy. The Great Fire of 1666, following the Great Plague of
the previous year, excited popular superstition, and to appease the
wrath of God, a new Bill was introduced in Parliament against
Atheism and profaneness. The Committee to which the Bill was
entrusted were empowered to "receive information touching"
heretical books, and Hobbes's 'Leviathan' was mentioned "in
particular." The old philosopher, then verging on eighty, was
naturally alarmed. Bold as he was in thought, his inherited
physical timidity shrank from the prospect of the prison, the
scaffold, or the stake. He made a show of conformity, and according
to Bishop Kennet, who is not an irreproachable witness, he partook
of the sacrament. It was said by some, however, that he acted thus
in compliancc with the wishes of the Devonshire family, who were
his protectors, and whose private chapel he attended. A noticeable
fact was that he always went out before the sermon, and when asked
his reason, he answered that "they could teach him nothing but what
he knew." He spoke of the chaplain, Dr. Jasper Mayne, as "a very
silly fellow."

     Hated by the clergy, and especially by the bishops; owing his
liberty and perhaps his life to powerful patrons; fearing that some
fanatic might take the parsons' hints and play the part of an
assassin; Hobbes is said to have kept a lighted candle in his 

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bedroom. The fact, if it be such, is not mentioned in Professor
Croom Robertson's exhaustive biography." [Hobbs. By George Croom
Robertson (1886) It is perhaps a bit of pious gossip. But were the
story authentic, it would not show that Hobbes had any supernatural
fears. He was more apprebensive of assassins than of ghosts and
devils. Being vety old, too, and his life precarious, he might well
desire a light in his bedroom in case of accident or sudden

     Hobbes does not appear to have troubled himself about death.
Bishop Kennet relates that only "the winter before he died he made
a warm greatcoat, which he said must last him three years, and then
he would have such another." Even so late as August, 1676, four
months before his decease, he was "writing somewhat" for his
publisher to "print in English." About the middle of October he had
an attack of stranguary, and "Wood and Kennet both have it that, on
hearing the trouble was past cure, he exclaimed, 'I shall be glad
then to find a hole to creep out of the world at.'" [Robertson, p.
203] "This story was picked up thirty years after Hobbes's death,
and is probably apocryphal. If the philosopher said anything of the
kind, he doubtless meant that, being very old, and without wife,
child, or relative to care for him, he would be glad to find a
shelter for his last moments, and to expire in comfort and peace.
At the end of November his right side was paralysed, and he lost
his speech. He "lingered in a somnolent state" for several days,
says Professor Robertson, and "then his life quietly went out."

     Bishop Kennet was absurd enough to hint that Hobbes's "lying
some days in a silent stupefaction, did seem owing to his mind,
more than his body." [Memoirs of the Cavendish Family, p. 108] "An
old man of ninety-one suffers a paralytic stroke, Ioses his speech,
sinks into unconsciousness, and quietly expires. What could be more
natural? Yet the Bishop, belonging to an order which always scents
a brimstone flavour round the heretic's death-bed, must explain
this stupor and inanition by supposing that the moribund
philosopher was in a fit of despair. We have only to add that
Bishop Kennet was not present at Hobbes's death. His theory is,
therefore, only a professional surmise; and we may be sure that the
wish was father to the thought.

                        AUSTIN HOLYOAKE.

     THIS steadfast Freethinker was a younger brother of George
Jacob Holyoake. He was of a singularly modest and amiable nature,
and although he left many friends he left not a single enemy. He
was entirely devoted to the Freethought cause, and satisfied to
work hard behind the scenes while more popular figures took the
credit and profit. His assiduity in the publishing business at
Fleet Street, which was ostensibly managed by his better-known and
more fortunate brother, induced a witty friend to call him "Jacob's
ladder." Afterwards he threw in his lot with Charles Bradlaugh,
then the redoubtable "Iconoclast," and became the printer and in
part sub-editor of the National Reformer, to whose columns he was
a frequent and welcome contributor. He died on April 10, 1874, and
was interred' at Highgate Cemetery, his funeral being largely
attended by the London Freethinkers, including C. Bradlaugh, C.
Watts, G.W. Foote, James Thomson and G.J. Holyoake. The malady that

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carried him off was consumption; he was conscious almost to the
last; and his only regret in dying, at the comparatively early age
of forty-seven, was that he could no longer fight the battle of
freedcm, nor protect the youth of his little son and daughter.

     Two days before his death, Austin Holyoake dictated his last
thoughts on religion, which were written down by his devoted wife,
and printed in the 'National Reformer' of April 19, 1874. Part of
this document is filled with his mental history. In the remainder
he reiterates his disbelief in the cardinal doctrines of
Christianity. The following extracts are interesting and pertinent:

          Christians constantly tell Freethinkers that their
     principles of "negation," as they term them, may do very well
     for health; but when the hour of sickness and approaching
     death arrives they utterly break down, and the hope of a
     "blessed immortality" can alone give consolation. In my own
     case I have been anxious to test the truth of this assertion,
     and have therefore deferred till the latest moment I think it
     prudent to dictate these few lines.

          To desire eternal bliss is no proof that we shall ever
     attain it; and it has long seemed to me absurd to believe in
     that which we wish for, however ardently. I regard all forms
     of Christianity as founded in selsliness. It is the
     expectation held out of bliss through all eternity, in return
     for the profession of faith in Christ and him crucified, that
     induces the erection of temples of worship in all Christian
     lands. Remove the extravagant promise, and you will hear very
     little of the Christian religion.

          As I have stated before, my mind being free from any
     doubts on these bewildering matters of speculation, I have
     experienced for twenty years the most perfect mental repose;
     and now I find that the near approach of death, the "grim King
     of Terrors," gives me not the slightest alarm. I have
     suffered, and am suffering, most intensely both by night and
     day; but this has not produced the least symptom of change of
     opinion. No amount of bodily torture can alter a mental
     conviction. Those who, under pain, say they see the error of
     their previous belief, had never thought out the subject for

     These are words of transparent sincerity; not a phrase is
strained, not a line aims at effect. Reading them, we feel in the
presence of an earnest man bravely confronting death, consciously
sustained by his convictions, and serenely bidding the world

     Austin Holyoake's Secular Burial Service is still in general
use among Freethinkers.

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                     GEORGE JACOB HOLYOAKE.

     HOLYOAKE was born in Birmihghain, in 1817. In 'The Last Trial
for Atheism, he says: "In early youth I was religious, and "as I 
grew up I attended missionary meetings, and my few pence were given
to that cause." In 1836 he became a Sunday Schcol teacher, but in
June of the following year he met Robert Owen and this led to
serious inquiry into the grounds of his religious beliefs and to
their complete abandonment before his twenty-fourth year. In 1841
Holyoiake, Southwell, Ryall and Chilton founded the Oracle of
Reason, an atheistic publication. On November 27 an article
appeared under the title, "The Jew Book," which resulted in the
prosecution and imprisonment of Southwell for blasphemy. Holyoake
himself was destined soon to undergo a similar experience. In a
speech at Cheltenham in 1842 he said that in view of the prevailing
poverty he would put the Church "on half pay" -- a crime for which
Mr. Justice Erskine sentenced him to six months' imprisonment. In
June, 1846, appeared the first issue of his weekly paper, The
Reasoner, which continued until June, 1861. New series with the
same title appeared subsequently, the last in 1871. Holyoake was
the first to use the term "Secularism" -- in 1850 -- and shortly
after this date he defined it as expressing a philosophy of life:

          Secularism relates to the present existence of man,
     having for its object the development of the physical,
     intellectual and moral nature of man, to the highest point, as
     the immediate duty of society, inculcating the practical
     sufficiency of natural morality apart from Atheism, Theism or

     Holyoake wrote numerous pamphlets on various aspects of
Secularism; but his more important works deal with the cooperative
movement in England.

     He died peacefully, in the presence of his wife and daughter,
at Brighton in January, 1906. 'Bygones Worth Remembering' was
published in his eighty-ninth year, and during the last few weeks
of his life he took a keen interest in the general election then

     Authorities: C.W.F. Goiss, 'A Descriptive Bibliography of the
Writings of G.J. Holyojake'; Joseph McCabe, Life and Letters of
G.J. Holyoake, 1908.

                          VICTOR HUGO.

     THE greatest French poet of this century, perhaps the greatest
French poet of all time, was a fervent Theist, reverencing the
prophet of Nazareth as a man, and holding that the "divine tear" of
Jesus and "the human smile" of Voltaire "compose the sweetness of
the present civilization." But he was perfectly free from the
trammels of creeds, and he hated priesteraft, like despotism, with
a perfect hatred.

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     In one of his striking later poems, "Religion et les
Religions," he derides and dencunces the tenets and pretensions of 
Christianity. The Devil, he says to the clergy, is only the monkey
of superstition; your Hell is an outrage on Humanity and a
blasphemy against God; and when you tell me that your deity made
you in his own image, I reply that he must be very ugly.

     As a man, as well as a writer, there was something
magnificently grandiose about him. Substract him from the
nineteenth century, and you rob it of much of its glory. For
nineteen years on a lonely channel island, an exile from the land
of his birth and his love, he nursed the conscience of humanity
within his mighty heart, brandishing the lightnings and thunders of
chastisement over the heads of the political brigands who were
stifling a nation, and prophesying their certain doom. When it
came, after Sedan, he returned to Paris, and for fifteen years he
was idolized by its people. There was great mourning at his death,
and "all Paris" attended his funeral. But true to the simplicity of
his life he ordered that his body should lie in a common coffin,
which contrasted vividly with the splendid procession. France
buried him, as she did Gambetta; he was laid to rest in the Church
of St. Genevidvq, resecularised as the Pantheon for the occasion;
and the interment took place without any religious rites.

     Hugo's great oration on Voltaire, in 1878, roused the ire of
the Bishop of Orleans, who reprimanded him in a public letter. The 
Freethinking poet sent a crushing reply: --

          France had to pass an ordeal. France was free. A man
     traitorously seized her in the night, threw her down and
     garrotted her. If a people could be killed, that man had slain
     France. He made her dead enough for him to reign over her. He
     began his reign, since it was a reign, with perjury, lying in
     wait, and massacre. He continued it by oppression, by tyranny,
     by despotism, by an unspeakable parody of religion and
     justice. He was monstrous and little. The Te Deum,
     Magitificat, Salvum fac, Gloria tibi, were sung for him. Who
     sang them? Ask yourself. The law delivered the people up to
     him. The Church delivered God up to him. Under that man sank
     down right, honour, country; he had beneath his feet oath,
     equity, probity, the glory of the flag, the dignity of men,
     the liberty of citizens. That man's prosperity disconcerted
     the human conscience. It lasted nineteen years. During that
     time you were in a palace. I was in exile. I pity you, sir.

     Despite this terrible rebuff to Bishop Dupanlocup, another
priest, Cardinal Guibert, Archbishop of Paris, had the temerity and
bad taste to obtrude himself when Victor Hugo lay dying in 1885.
Being born on February 26, 1802, the poet was in his eighty-fourth
year, and expiring naturally of old age. Had the rites of the
Church been performed on him in such circumstances, it would have
been an insufferable farce. Yet the Archbishop wrote to Madame
Lockroy, offering to bring personally "the succoiur and consolation
so much needed in these cruel ordeals." Monsieur Lockroy at once
replied as follows

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     Madame Lockroy, who cannot leave the bedside of her father-in-
law, begs me to thank you for the sentiments which you have
expressed with so much eloquence and kindness. As regards M. Victor
Hugo, he has again said within the last few days, that he had no
wish during his illness to be attended by a priest of any
persuasion. We should be wanting in our duty if we did not respect
his resolution. [London Times, May 23, 1885: Paris Correspondent's

     Hugo's death-chamber was thus unprofaned by the presence of a
priest. He expired in peace, surrounded by the beings he loved.
According to the Times correspondent in Paris, "Alluost his last
words, addressed to his grand-daughter, were, 'Adieu, Jeanne,
adieu!' And his last movement of consciousness was to clasp his
grandson's hand."

                           DAVID HUME.

     PROFESSOR Huxley ventures to call David Hume "the most acute
thinker of the eighteenth century, even though it produced Kant." 
[Lay Sermons, p. 141] Hume's greatness is no less clearly
acknowledged by Joseph De Maistre, the foremost champion of the
Papacy in our own country. "I believe," he says, "that taking all
into account, the eighteenth century, so fertile in this respect,
has not produced a single enemy of religion who can be compared
with him. His cold venom is far more dangerous than the foaming
rage of Voltaire. If ever, among men who have heard the gospel
preached, there has existed a veritable Atheist (which I will not
undertake to decide) it is he." [Letters sur l'Inquisition, p. 147,
148] Allowing for the perscnal animosity in his estimate of Hume,
De Maistre is as accurate as Huxley. The immortal Essays attest
both his penetration and his scepticism; the one on Miracles being
a perpetual stumbling-block to Christian apologists. With superb
irony, Hume closes that portentous discourse with a reprimand of
"those dangerous friends or disguised enemies to the Christian
Religion, who have undertaken to defend it by the principles of
human reason." He reminds them that "our most holy religion is
founded on faith, not on reason." He remarks that Christianity was
"not only attended by miracles, but even at this day cannot be
believed by any reasonable person withoint one." For "whoever is
moved by faith to assent to it, is conscious of a continued miracle
in his own person, which subverts all the principles of his
understanding, and gives him a determination to believe what is
most contrary to custom and experience."

     Hume was born at Edinburgh on April 26, 1711. His life was the
uneventful one of a literary man. Besides his Essays, he published
a History of England, which was the first serious effort in that
direction. Judged by the standard of our day it is inadequate; but
it abounds in philoscphical reflections of the highest order, and
its style is nearly perfect. Gibbon, who was a good judge of style,
had an unbounded admiration for Hume's "careless inimitable

     Fortune, however, was not so kind to him as fame. At the age
of forty, his frugal habits had enabled him to save no more than
1,000 pounds. He reckoned his income at 50 pounds a year, but his 
wants were few, his spirit was cheerful, and there were few prizes 

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in the lottery of life for which he would have made an exchange. In
1775 his health began to fail. Knowing that his disorder
(hemorrhage of the bowels) would prove fatal, he made his will, and
wrote 'My Own Life,' the conclusion of which, says Huxley, "is one
of the most cheerful, simple and dignified leave-takings of life
and all its concerns, extant." He died on August 25, 1776, and was
buried a few days later on the eastern slope of Calton Hill,
Edinburgh, his body being "attended by a great concourse of people,
who seem to have anticipated for it the fate appropriate to wizards
and necromancers." [Hume, by Professor Huxley, p. 43]

     Adam Smith, the great author of the 'Wealth of Nations,' was
one of Hume's most intimate friends. He tells us that Hume went to
London in April, 1776, and soon after his return he "gave up all
hope of recovery, but submitted with the utmost cheerfulness, and
the most perfect complacency and resignation." His cheerfulness was
so great that many people could not believe he was dying. "Mr.
Hume's magnanimity and firmness were such," said Adam Smith, that
his most affectionate friends knew that they hazarded nothing in
talking and writing to him as a dying man, and that, so far from
being hurt by this frankness, he was rather pleased and flattered
by it." His chief thought in relation to the possible prolongation
of his life, which his friends hoped although he told them their
hopes were groundless, was that he would have "the satisfaction of
seeing the downfall of some of the prevailing systems of
superstition." On August 8, Adam Smith went to Kircaldy, leaving
Hume in a very weak state but still very cheerful. On August 28, he
received the following letter from Dr. Black, the physician, 
announcing the philosopher's death: --

                                        Monday, August 26, 1776.

          Dear Sir, -- Yesterday about four o'clock, afternoon, Mr.
     Hume expired. The near approach of his death became evident in
     the night between Thursday and Friday, when his disease became
     excessive, and soon weakened him so much, that be could no
     longer rise out of his bed. He continued to the last perfectly
     sensible and free from much pain and feelings of distress. He
     never dropped the smallest expression of impatience; but when
     he had occasion to speak to the people about him, always did
     it with affection and tenderness. I thought it improper to
     write to bring you over, especially as I heard that he had
     dictated a letter to you, desiring you not to come. When he
     became weak it cost him an effort to speak, and he died in
     such a happy composure of mind that nothing could exceed it.

     Thus," says Adam Smith, "died our most excellent and never to
be forgottt:n friend . . . Upon the whole, I have always considered
him, both in his lifetime and since his death as approaching as
nearly to the idea of a perfectly wise and virtuous man as perhaps
the nature of human frailty will permit." [Letter to William
Strahan, dated November 9, 1776, and usually prefixed to Hume's
'History of England.'

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                     ROBERT GREEN INGERSOLL.

     INGERSOLL was born in the small town of Dresden, State of New
York, on August 11, 1833. His father was a Minister of the
Congregational Chureh, and the boy was brought up in an evangelical
atmosphere, though he never accepted some of the dogmas which he
was taught. At an early age he expressed his abhorrence of the idea
of an eternal hell. In 1854 he was admitted to the Bar and soon
gained a large practice.

     The Civil War broke out in 1861, and he raised for the anti-
slavery cause a regiment of Illinois cavalry, of which he was
appointed colonel. During the war he was taken prisoner by the
Confederate troops. In 1866 he was appointed Attorney-General of
Illinois, and would most certainly have been Governor of the State
but for the religious prejudice against him.

     Ingersoll's eloquence, wit, and keen logic in controversy made
him a great asset to the popular Freethought Movement, and to an
almost equal degree it caused him to be bitterly attacked and
slandered by the clergy, especially by the ultra-evangelical
Talmage. What above all else excited orthodox opposition was
Ingersoll's habit of laughing at the absurdities of Christianity.
This play of wit and satire is noticeable in The Mistakes of Moses,
probably the best known of his Freethought writings. Among his
pamphlets and reported speeches, which have had a wide circulation
throughout the English-speaking world, but are far too numerous for
detailed reference here, may be mentioned 'Ghosts,' 'What must I do
to be saved?' and 'Real Blasphemy.' Perhaps he is seen at his
literary best in the Reply to Gladstone, which appeared originally
in the North American Review for June, 1888. The replies to his
assaults on the faith would alone form a small library.

     His attitude to the whole question of a future life is
perfectly Agnostic. In 'Faith and Fact,' 1887 (P. 12) he declares:
"I know no more (of the immortality of the soul) than the lowest
savage, no more than a doctor of divinity -- that is to say,
nothing." In God and Man, 1888 (p. 11) he is emphatic concerning
the worthlessness of what is called the Christian hope: "It offers
no consolation to any good and loving man." He pours all that
refined scorn of which he was a master on the promise of a future
life to the oppressed as compensation for their sufferings here
(Repairing the Idols, 1888, pp. 6-8). At the grave of the child,
Harry Miller, speaking of the questign, "Whither?" he said: "The
poor barbarian weeping over his dead can answer the question as
intelligently and satisfactorily as the robed priests of the most
authentic creed." (Appendix to Mistakes of Moses.)

     Ingersoll died of angina pectoris on July 21, 1899. He passed
away very peacefully and his last words were, "I am better now."
But it was not to be expected that so great an "infidel" would be
spared the familiar story of a death-bed recantation, despite the
fact that all the details of his last moments are well known. His
friend, W.J. Armstrong, summed them up concisely in the Los Angeles
Times Magazine: "He died unexpectedly and suddenly, after
conversing cheerfully a few minutes before with the members of his
family." (The Freethinker, October 4, 1908).

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                       RICHARD JEFFERIES.

     RICHARD JEFFERIES, the nature-lover, who wrote of hedge-rows
and woodlands and wild life, was born in 1848. Religion never had
a strong hold upon him. In The Story of My Heart, published in
1883, four years before he died, he says --

          In the march of time there fell away from my mind, as the
     leaves from the trees in autumn, the last traces and relies of
     superstitions and traditions acquired compulsorily in
     childhood. Always feebly adhering, they finally disappeared.

     He died on August 14, 1887, after several years of painful
suffering. Sir Walter Besant, in his Eulogy of Richard Jefferies,
makes it appear that Jefferies, at the end, returned to the
Christian faith. Sir Walter related the story as he had heard it;
but he himself a few years later wrote to Mr. H.S. Salt: --

          I stated in my Eulogy that he died a Christian. This was
     true in the sense of outward conformity. His wife read to him
     the Gospel of St. Luke, and he acquiesced. But, I have since
     been informed, he was weak, too weak not to acquiesce, and his
     views never changed from the time that he wrote The Story of
     My Heart. You are, I am convinced, quite right. When a man
     gets as far as Jefferies did -- when he has shed and scattered
     to the winds all sacerdotalism and authority -- he does not go
     back. (H.S. Salt Company I have Kept, 1930, pp. 106-7.)

                      JULIAN THE APOSTATE.

     THE life of Julian, Roman Emperor from 361 to 363 A.D., is of
considerable interest to Freethinkers. At an early age his 
education was entrusted to Christian monks; but he soon began to
contrast the Greek view of life and its intellectual activities
with the gloomy piety and the theological hair-spliting of his
teachers. His'Refutation of the Christian Religion' was destroyed
by the efforts of Theodosius II., but we know that it contained
some acute criticism of the absurd stories in the Old Testament and
also of the life of Christ. "No wild beasts," he once declared,
"are as hostile to men as Christian sects in general are to one

     Fortunately, we happen to know the details of Julian's last
days. He died in the campaign against the Persians, in which he
showed supreme valor and the utmost calm. The story of his
exclaiming, "Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!" is pure fiction.
"Christian legend soon began to busy itself in weaving strange
tales around the Emperor's death-bed, for which we have no
foundation in any trustworthy authorities. They need no disproof
(Alice Gardner, Julian, Philosopher and Emperor). These "strange
tales" belong to the early samples of the wares, now familiar
enough, which Christians have manufactured "for the greater glory
of God."

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                    GOTTHOLD EPHRAIM LESSING.

     LESSING was born in 1729 at Kamenz, Saxony, where his father
was a pastor in the Lutheran Church. At the University, Leipzig, he
studied theology, medicine and philosophy, but soon devoted himself
mainly to literary criticism. At an early age he showed his
independent nature, and this independence was especially noticeable
in his views on religion. In his essay, 'How the Ancients
Represented death, he contrasts the attitude of classical antiquity
to death as the natural end of life with that of the Christian
faith, which considers death a penalty for sin. Some of the
posthumous essays of Herruann Samuel Reimarus, 'The Principal
Truths of Natural Religion' and the Doctrines of Reason, in which
he subjects the important claims of Christianity to a profound
examination and rejects them as untenable, were edited by Lessing,
who took them with him to Wolfenbuettel. Lessing himself was
greatly impressed by Reimarus' work, though he dissented from many
of its conclusions. His part in circulatitig these heterodox views
and his own ideas of the need of free discussion in religion, as
expressed in 'The Education of the human Race,' were distasteful to
the orthodox of the time, and Pastor Coeze pursned him as vicionsly
as Talmage pursued Ingersoll a century later.

     In a conversation with Jacoby in 1780 Lessing expressed high
appreciation of Goethe's Prometheus. He added: "If I am a follower
of anyone, it can only be Spinoza. There is no other philosophy but

     Towards the end of his life Lessing suffered severely from
asthma, and in February 1781, the malady became acute. He felt that
the hand of death was upon him, but conversed with his friends 
"with much of his old liveliness." To one of them who spoke of the
annoyance which the clerics caused Voltaire on his death-bed,
Lessing exclaimed: "When you see me about to die, call the notary;
I will declare before him that I die in none of the prevailing
religiorns." On February 15 he rallied "and joked with some of
those who came to visit him"; but in the evening of the same day "a
stroke of apoplexy followed, and after life's fitful fever he slept
well" (James Sime, Lessing, ii. 345-6).

                           M. LITTRE.

     This great French Positivist died in 1882 at the ripe age of
eighty-one. M. Littre was one of the foremost writers in France.
His monumental Dictionary of the French Language is the greatest
work of its kind in the world. As a scholar and a philosopher his
eminence was universally recognized.

     M. Littre's wife was an ardent Catholic, yet she was allowed
to follow her own religious inclinations without the least
interference. She, however, was less scrupulous than her husband.
After enjoying for so inany years the benefit of his steadfast
toleration, she took advantage of her position to exclude his
friends from his death-bed, to hive him baptized in his last
moments, and to secure his burial in consecrated ground with pious
rites. Not satisfied with this, she even allowed it to be  

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understood that her husband had recanted his heresy and died in the
bosom of the Church. The Abbe Huvelin, her confessor, who
frequently visited M. Littre during his last illness, assisted her
in the fraud.

     There was naturally a disturbance at M. Littre's funeral. As
the Standard correspondent wrote, his friends and disciples were
"very angry at this recantation in extremis, and claimed that
dishonest priestcraft took advantage of the darkness cast over that
clear intellect by the mist of approaching death to perform the
rites of the Church over his semi-inanimate body."

     At the grave M. Wyrouboff, editor of the Comtist review, 'La
Philosophie Positive,' founded by M. Littre, delivered a brief
address to the Freethinkers who remained, which concluded thus: --

          Littre proved by his example that it is possible for a
     man to possess a noble and generous heart, and at the same
     time espouse a doctrine which admits nothing beyond what is
     positively real and which prevents any recantation. And,
     gentlemen, in spite of deceptive appearances, Littre died as
     be had lived, without contradictions or weakness. All those
     who knew that calm and serene mind -- and I was of the number
     of those who did -- are well aware that it was irrevocably
     closed to the "unknowable," and that it was thoroughly
     prepared to meet courageously the irresistible laws of nature.
     And now sleep in peace, proud and noble thinker! You will not
     have the eternity of a world to come, which you never
     expected; but you leave behind you your country that you
     strove honestly to serve, the Republic which you always loved,
     a generation of disciples who will remain faithful to you; and
     last, but not least, you leave your thoughts and your virtues
     to the whole world. Social immortality, the only beneficent
     and fecund immortality, commences for you to-day.

     M. Wyrouboff has since amply proved his statements.

     The English press creditably rejected the story of M. Littrs's
recantation. The 'Daily News' sneered at it, the 'Times' described
it as absurd, the Standard said it looked untrue. But the 'Morning
-Advertiser' was still more outspoken. It said: -

          There can hardly be a doubt that M. Littre died a
     steadfast adherent to the principles be so powerfully
     advocated during his laborious and distinguished life. The
     Church may claim, as our Paris correspondent, in his
     interesting note on the subject, tells us she is already
     claiming, the death-bed conversion of the great unbeliever,
     who for the last thirty-five years was one of her most active
     and formidable enemies. She has attempted to take the same
     posthumous revenge on Voltaire, an Paine, and on many others,
     who were described by Roman Catholic writers as calling in the
     last dreadful hour for the spiritual support they held up to
     ridicule in the confidence of health and the presumption of
     their intellect.

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     Unfortunately for the clericals, there exists a document which
may be considered M. Littre's last confession. It is an article 
written for the Coatist review a year before his death, entitled,
"Pour la Derniere Fois" -- For the Last Time. While writing it he
knew that his end was not far off. "For many months," he says, "my
sufferings have prostrated me with dreadful persistence . . . Every
evening when I have to be put to bed, my pains are exasperated, and
often I have not the strength to stifle cries which are grievous to
me and grievous to those who tend me." After the article was
completed his malady increased. Fearing the worst he wrote to his
friend, M. Caubet, as follows: --

          Last Saturday I swooned away for a long time. It is for
     that reason I send you, a little prematurely, my article for
     the Review. If I live, I will correct the proofs as usual. If
     I die, let it be printed and published in the Review as a
     posthumous article. It will be a last trouble which I venture
     to give you. The reader must do his best to follow the
     manuseript faithfully.

     Let us see what M. Littre's last confession is. I translate
two passages from the article. Referring to Charles Greville, he
says: --

          I feel nothing of what he experienced. Like him, I find
     it impossible to accept the theory of the world, which
     Catholicism prescribes to all true believers; but I do not
     regret being without such doctrines, and I cannot discover in
     myself any wish to return to them.

     And he concludes the article with these words: -- Positive
Philosophy, which has so supported me since my thirtieth year, and
which, in givin, me an ideal, a craving for progress, the vision of
history and care for humanity, has preserved me from being a simple
negationist, accompanies me faithfully in these last trials. The
questions it solves in its own way, the rules it prescribes by
virtue of its principle, the beliefs it discountenances in the name
of our ignorance of everything absolute; of these I have in the
preceding pages made an examination, which I conclude with the
supreme word of the commencement -- for the last tune.

     So much for the lying story of M. Littre's recantation.

                         JOHN T. LLOYD.

     JOHN T. LLOYD was born at Felin-y-wig, Denbighshire, in 1850.
He was brought up in the Calvinistic faith, the form of
Christianity handed down to him as a sacred legacy through a long
line of ancestors," and even as a boy he was "resolutely ambitious
to enter the ministry of the gospel." This ambition met with an
early realization. Lloyd was enrolled as a candidate for the
ministry, entered the University, and afterwards studied theology
for three years at Bala College. He occupied the pulpit of the
Presbyterian Church in South Africa for twenty years, and
throughout that period was regarded as "a popular preacher." During
the greater part of this time the churches in which he officiated
were too small to accommodate the crowds that flocked to, hear him.

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     In a series of articles contributed to the Freethinker in
1903, and republished under the title, From 'Christian Pulpit to
Secular Platform,' Lloyd has left a detailed account of the many
phases of religious thought through which he passed before he
finally "discarded God, Christ, and Immortality, with all the
absurd dogmas concerning them." These sixty pages are much more
than a criticism of his early creed, they are a "human document"
which often reminds us of the mental experience, as recorded by
themselves, of Jospell Symes and Moucure D. Conway, who also left
the Christian pulpit for the Secular platform.

     From 1903, when he decided to devote the remainder of his life
to the Freethought cause, until his death Lloyd was a regular
contributor to the Freethinker, and during nearly the whole of this
pericd he was also a prominent lecturer for the National Secular
Society. He died on February 1, 1928, and showed a keen interest in
the progress of Freethought until within a few weeks of his death.
An attack of cerebral hoemorrhage at the beginning of December,
1927, prevented further active work for the cause, and before the
end came he lost consciousness,

     Lloyd's pamphlet, God-eating: 'A Study in Christianity and
Cannibalism' (1921), is a popularly written but scholarly 
exposition of the principal sacrament of the Christian Church, its
origin, and the superstitious history associated with it. His
vigorous protest against the imprisonment of J.W. Gott for
blasphemy in 1922, and his remark at the time -- "these
prosecutions are a sign of weakness, not of strength" -- will long
be remembered by English Secularists.

                          EMMA MARTIN.

     EMMA MARTIN was born in Bristol in 1812. She was brought up in
the Baptist denomination, but the trial of Southwell for blasphemy
led her to inqnire into the grounds of her faith and to reject it
ccmpletely. She became an enthusiastic speaker and writer for the 
Freethought cause, and was imprisoned for blasphemy. In 1844 she
wrote 'Baptism a Pagan Rite,' and this was follcwed by 'The Bible
no Revelation' and 'Reasons for Renouncing Christianity.' in 1848
a leaflet was circulated in Scotland, giving a circumstantial
account of her death-bed recantation. At the time she was actually
lecturing in London and continued to do so for about three years.

     She died at Finchley Common on October 8, 1851, after severe
suffering which she endured with great fortitude. Eight days before
her death G.J. Holeyoake visited her and found her reading
Strauss's Life of Jesus. She made several requests to him, one
being that he should speak at her graveside. His address was
published as a pamphlet under the title, 'The Last Days of Mrs.
Emma Martin.' The Rev. Brewin Grant, however, true to the best
traditions of his evangelical Christianity, described her death as
a "dreadful tragedy" and agony as "the eloquent and fitting
requiem" for it.

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                       HARRIET MARTINEAU.

     THIS gifted woman died on May 27, 1876, after a long and
useful life, filled with literary labour in the cause of progress. 
On April 19, less than six weeks before her death, she wrote her
last letter to Mr. H.G. Atkinson, from which the following is
taken: --

          I cannot think of any future as at all probable, except
     the "annihilation" from which some people recoil with so much
     horror. I find myself here in the universe -- I know not how,
     whence or why. I See everything in the universe go out and
     disappear, and I see no reason for supposing that it is not an
     actual and entire death. And for my part, I have no objection
     to such an extinction. I well remember the passion with which
     W.E. Forster said to me "I had rather be damned than
     annihilated." If he once felt five minutes' damnation, he
     would be thankful for extinction in preference. The truth is,
     I care little about it any way. Now that the event draws near,
     and that I see how fully my housebold expect my death pretty
     soon, the universe opens so widely before my view, and I see
     the old notions of death, and scenes to follow so merely human
     -- so impossible to be true, when once glanced through the
     range of science -- that I see nothing to be done but to wait,
     without fear or hope for future experience, nor have I any
     fear of it. Under the weariness of illness I long to be
     asleep. [Autobiography of Harriet Martineau, Vol. III., P.
     454; Edition 1877.]

     These are the words of a brave woman, who met Death with the
same fortitude as she exhibited in the presence of the defenders of
slavery in the United States.

                        GEORGE MEREDITH.

     MEREDITH was born in Hampshire in 1828 and died in 1909. He
ranks as one of the greatest of English novelists, and very high as
a poet. Even "in his late boyhood" he "detested conventional
religion," but not Christianity as he interpretqd it for himself.
(R.E. Sencourt, 'The Life of George Meredith,' 1929, p. 6.) Nearly
every chapter in this biography shows Meredith's rejection of the
fundamentals Of Christianity -- the friendships which he
cultivated, his references to Darwin, Swinburne and Renan, and his
constant emphasis on "the creative activity of nature" as the sole
source of ife and energy. And Meredith was in full sympathy with
the popular Freethought Movement. He was one of the earliest
members of the General Council of the Secular Education League
('Nineteenth Century,' April, 1911, p. 743). He corresponded with
G.W. Foote, valued his friendship, and "gave his name as well as
his cheque" to the support of the Freethinker. He protested against
the imprisonment of Foote for blasphemy in 1883, and in one of his
letters to him, spoke of the fight against the priests as the best
of causes."

     Meredith died on May 18, 1909. On April 13 he wrote a letter
to Theodore Watts-Dunton on the death of Swinburne, which took
place three days previously. "He was the greatest of our lyric 
poets -- of the world, I could say, considering what a language he 

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had to wield." On April 23 he wrote to Foote, enclosing a
contribution to the Freethinker fund, and this was almost certainly
the last letter he ever wrote. On May 4, he said: "Nature is my God
and I trust in her." His remains were cremated at Woking, and there
was no religious service; but when the ashes were buried at Darking
cemetery " a clergyman muttered some Anglican prayers," and the
same day, in Westminster Abbqy, "the Dean conducted with great
ceremony a requiem service."

     Meredith's sympathy with Freethought and Freethinkers is
noticeable in his correspondence, and his poetry vibrates
throughout with love of life and Nature, with the spirit summed up
in the lines: --

          Into the Earth that gives the rose
          Shall I with shuddering fall?

     Authorities: Sencourt; Photiades, George Meredith;
Freethinker, October 20, 1912; "George Meredith: Freethinker," in
'Shakespeare and Other Literary Essays,' by G.W. Foote.

                          JEAN MESLIER.

     JEAN MESLIER, or more correctly, Mellier, was born on June 15,
1664. His death occurred in 1733. He was cure, or parish priest, of
Entrepigny. He left his small property to his parishionqrs, and
asked to be buried in his own garden. Among his effects were found
three copies of a manuscript of 370 folior, signed by his own hand
and entitled 'My Testament.' The writing was found to be a
merciless exposure of Christianity. What he could not say while
alive, he said in this legacy to his flock. As he himself wrote on
the wrapper of the copy for his parishioners, "I have not dared to
say it during my life, but I will say it at least in dying or after
my death." On November 17, 1794, the National Convention sent to
the Committee of Public Instruction a proposal to erect a statue to
Meglier as "the first priest who had the courage and honesty to
abjure his religious errors." A work called 'Bon Sens,' translated
into English as 'Good Sense,' is not by Meslier, but by D'Holbach.

     Authorities: Larousse, Dictionaire Universelle. Bouilliot,
Biographie Ardenaise. Voltaire's Works and Letters.

                           JAMES MILL

     JAMES MILL, the author of the 'History of British India,' the
'Analysis of the Phenomena of the Huinan Mind, and other works, was
a robust thinker and a powerful writer himself; though his name
became more illustrious when borne by his great son, John Stuart
Mill. James Mill was born in 1773. He would have entered the pulpit
as a Presbyterian preacher, had he not "by his own studies and
reflections been led to reject not only the belief in Revelation,
but the foundations of what is commonly called Natural Religion."
[J.S. Mill, 'Autobiography,' p. 38] "He came to the conviction that
"concerning the origin of things nothing whatever can be known." He
looked upon religion as "the greatest enemy of morality," and he
regarded the God of Christianity as an embodiment of the "ne plus 

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ultra of wickedness." From these views he never departed. His death
occurred on June 23, 1836. Mrs. Grote says, "he died without any 
pain or struggle, of long standing pulmonary phthisis." Francis
Place wrote as follows to Mrs Grote on June 15: --

          Stayed too long with poor Mill, who showed much more
     sympathy and affection than ever before in all our long
     friendship. But he was all the time as much of a bright
     reasoning man as ever he was -- reconciled to his fate, brave,
     and calm to an extent which I never before witnessed, except
     in another old friend, Thomas Holeroft, the day before the day
     of his death. [Prof. A. Bain, 'James Mill,' p. 409]

                        JOHN STUART MILL.

     MILL was born in Rodney Street, Pentonville, London, on May
20, 1806, and he died at Avignoll on May 8, 1873. Notwithstanding
the unguarded admissions in the one of his 'Three Essays on
Religion,' which he never prepared for the press, it is certain
that he lived and died a Freethinker. His father educated him
without theology, and he never really imbibed any afterwards.
Professor Bain, his intimate friend and his biographer, tells us
that "he absented himself during his whole life from religious
services," and that "in everything characteristic of the creed of
Christendom he was a thorough-going negationist. He admitted
neither its truth nor its utility." ['John Stuart Mill,' by
Alexander Bain, p. 139, 140] John Morley also, in his admirably-
written account of the last day he spent with Mill,
['Miscellanies,' Vol. III] says that he looked forward to a general
growth of the religion of Humanity.

     Mill was one of the pall-bearers at Grote's funeral in 1871.
He accepted the office under great pressure, and on walking out of
Westrainster Abbey with Professor Bain he remarked -- "In no very
long time, I shall be laid in the ground with a very different
ceremonial from that." [Bain, p. 133] Professor Bain observes: --

          it so happened, however, that a prayer was delivered at
     his own interment by the Protestant pastor at Avignon, who
     thereby got himself into trouble, from Mill's known
     scepticism, and had to write an exculpation in the local
     newspaper. [Ibid, 133]

     This pastor had become friendly with Mill at Avignon.
According to Professor Bain, he was "a very intelligent and
liberal-minded man." When the Democratie du Midi announced that
Mill had received 'les derniers secours de la religion' (the last
consolations of religion) on his death-bed, M. Rey honourably
denied the statement, and said, Il n'y avait point de pasteur pres
du lit de M. Mill. -- "There was no clergyman at Mr. Mill's
bedside." [M. Rey's letter is given in 'La Critique Philosophique,'
June 5, 1873, p. 283.]

     Mill died of erysipelas consequent on a fall. Three days
before his death he walked fifteen miles. Dr. Gurney thus describes
his last hours: --

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          Mr. Mill suffered but little, except in swallowing, and
     from the heat and weight of the enormous swelling, which, by
     the time I arrived from Nice, had already spread over his face
     and neck; and yet he learned from me on my arrival the fatal
     nature of the attack with calmness and resignation. His
     express desire that he might not lose his mental faculties was
     gratified, for his great intellect remained clear to the last
     moment. His wish that his funeral might be quiet and simple,
     as indeed, his every wish, was attended to by his loving step-
     daughter with devoted solicitude." [Daily News, May 12, 1873.]

     Mill's death was not misrepresented in England. On the
contrary, one religious journal, which died it-self soon
afterwards, declared its opinion that his soul was burning in hell,
and expressed a hearty wish that his disciples would soon follow


     GABRIEL HONORE RIQUETTI, son and heir of the Marquis de
Mirabeau, was born on March 9, 1747. He came of a wild strong
stock, and was a magnificent "enormous" fellow at his birth, the
head being especially great. The turbulent life of the man has been
graphically told by Carlyle in his 'Essays' and in the 'French
Revolutiott.' Faults he had many, but not that of insincerity; with
all his failings, he was a gigantic mass of veracious humanity.
"Moralities not a few," says Carlyle, "must shriek condemnatory
over this Mirabeau; the Morality by which he could be judged has
not yet got uttered in the speech of men."

     Mirabeau's work in the National Assembly belongs to history.
It was mighty and splendid, but it cannot be recited here. In
January, 1791, he sat as President of the Assembly, with his neck
bandaged after the application of leeches. At parting he said to
Dumont, "I am dying, my friend; dying as by slow fire." On the 27th
of March he stood in the tribune for the last time. Four days later
he was on his death-bed. Crowds beset the street, anxious but
silent, and stopping all traffic so that their hero might not be
disturbed. A bulletin was issued every three hours. "On Saturday,
the second day of April," says Carlyle, " Mirabean feels that the
last of the Days has risen for him; that on this day he has to
depart and be no more. His death is Titanic, as his life has been.
Lit up, for the last time, in the glare of the coming dissolution,
the mind of the man is all glowing and burning; utters itself in
sayings, such as men long remember. He longs to live, yet
acquiesces in death, argues not with the inexorable." ['French
Revolution, Vol. II., p. 120.]

     Gazing out on the Spring sun, Mirabeau said, Si ce n'est pas
la' Dieu, c'est du moins son cousin germain -- If that is not God,
it is at least his cousin german. It was the great utterance of an
eighteenth century Pagan, looking across the mists of Christian
superstition to the saner nature-worship of antiquity.

     Power of speech gone, Mirabeau made signs for paper and pen,
and wrote the word dorniir, "to sleep." Cabanis, the great
physician, who stood beside him, pretended not to understand this 
passionate request for opium. Thereupon, writes the doctor, he made

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a sign for the pen and paper to be brought to him again, and wrote,
'Do you think that Death is dangerous?' -- Seeing that I did not
comply with his deniand, he wrote again, '... How can you leave
your friend on the wheel, perhaps for days?' "Cabanis and Dr. Petit
decided to give him a sedative. While it was sent for "the pains
became atrocious." Recovering speech a little under the torture, he
turned to M. de la Marek, saying, "You deceive me." "No," replied
his friend, "we are not deceiving you, the remedy is coming, we all
saw it ordered." "Ah, the doctors, the doctors!" he muttered. Then,
turning to Cabanis, with a look of mingled anger and tenderness, he
said, "Were you not my doctor and my friend? Did you not promise to
spare me the agonies of such a death? Do you wish me to expire with
a regret that I trusted you?"

     "Those words," says Cabinis, "the last that he uttered, ring
incessantly in my ears. He turned over on the right side with a
convulsive movement, and at half-past eight in the morning he
expired in our arms." "Dr. Petit, standing at the foot of the bed,
said, "His sufferings are ended." "So dies," writes Carlyle, "a
gigantic Heathen and Titan; stumbling blindly, undismayed, down to
his rest."

     Mirabeau was an Atheist, and he was buried as became his
philosophy and his greatness. The Assembly decreed a Public
Funeral, there was a procession a league in length, and the very
roofs, trees, and lamp-posts, were covered with people. The Church
of Sainte-Genevieve was turned into a Pantheon for the Great Men of
the Fatherland, Aux Grands Hommes la Pairie Reconnaissante. It was
midnight ere the ceremonies ended, and the mightiest man in France
was left in the darkness and silence to his long repose. Of him,
more than most men, it might well have been said, "After life's
fitful fever be sleeps well." Dormir, "to sleep," he wrote in his
dying agony. Death had no terror for him; it was only the ringing
down of the curtain at the end of the drama.

                        WILHELM OSTWALD.

     OSTWALD was born at Riga in 1853. For a time he was a
professor in the University of Leipzig and earned international
fame as a chemist. He was for some years President of the German
Monists' Union, of which he was a member at the time of his death.
In 'Individuality and Immortality' (1906) he said that death is not
an evil but a necessary factor in the existence of the race. Beyond
the hope that his work had contributed something to the mental
equipment of humanity he had no desire whatever for a future life.

     He died on April 4, 1932. At the funeral the appearance of a
pastor in clerical gown, who delivered an address, in which he
declared that "as a scientist Ostwald had not trodden the pathway
of theology," excited amazement among the friends of the deceased.
After several others had spoken a representative of the Monists'
Union was allowed to speak for a few minutes on promising the
relatives not to say anything against the Church or religion. (Die
Geistesfrcheit, Leipzig, May 1, 1932).

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                          ROBERT OWEN.

     ROBERT OWEN, whose name was once a terror to the clergy and 
the privileged classes, was born at Newtown, Montgomeryshire, on
May 14, 1771. In his youth he noticed the inconsistency of
professing Christians, and on studying the various religions of the
world, as he tells us in his Autobiography, he found that "one and
all had emanated from the same source, and their varieties from the
same false imaginations of our early ancestors." We have no space
to narrate his long life, his remarkable prosperity in cotton
spinning, his experiments in the education of children, his
disputes with the clergy, and his efforts at social reform, to
which he devoted his time and wealth, with singular
disinterestedness and simplicity. At one time his influence even
with the upper class was remarkable, but he seriously impaired it
in 1817, by honestly stating, at a great meeting at the City of
London Tavern, that it was useless to hope for real reform while
people were besotted by "the gross errors that have been combined
with the fundamental notions of every religion." After many more
years of labor for the cause he loved, Owen quietly passed away on
November 17, 1858, at the great age of eighty-eight. His last hours
are described in the following letter by his son, Robert Dale Owen,
which appeared in the newspapers of the time, and is preserved in
Mr. G.J. Holyoake's Last Days of Robert Owen: --

          "Newtown, November 17, 1858. -- My dear father passed
     away this morning, at a quarter before seven, and passed away
     as gently and quietly as if he had fallen asleep. There was
     not the least struggle, not a contraction of a limb, of a
     muscle, not an expression of pain on his face. His breathing
     gradually became slower and slower, until at last it ceased so
     unperceptibly, that, even as I held his hand, I could scarcely
     tell the moment when he no longer breathed. His last words
     distinctly pronounced about twenty minutes before his death,
     were 'Relief has come.' About half an hour before he said
     'Very easy and comfortable.'"

     Owen's remains were interred in the churchyard of St. Mary's,
Newtown, and as the law then stood, the minister had a right, which
he exercised, of reading the Church of England burial service over
the heretic's coffin, and the Freethinkers who stood round the
grave had to bear the mockery as quietly as possible. In Owen's
case, as in Carlile's, the Church appropriated the heretic's
corpse. Even Darwin's body rests in Westminster Abbey, and that is
all of him the Church can boast.

                          THOMAS PAINE.

     GEORGE WASHINGTON has been called the hero of American
Independence, but Thomas Paine shares with him the honor. The sword
of the one, and the pen of the other, were both necessary in the
conflict which prepared the ground for building the Republic of the
United States. While the farmer-general fought with unabated hope
in the darkest hours of misfortune, the soldier-author wrote the
stirring appeals which kindled and sustained enthusiasm in the
sacred cause of liberty. Common Sense was the precursor of the
Declaration of Independence. The Rights of Man, subsequently 

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written and published in England, advocated the same principles
where they were equally required. Replied to by Government in a
prosecution for treason, it brought the author so near to the
gallows that he was only saved by flight. Learning afterwards that
'The Rights of Man' can never be realized while the people are
deluded and degraded by priestcraft and superstition, Paine
attacked Christianity in 'The Age of Reason.' That vigorous,
logical, and witty volume has converted thousands of Christians to
Freethought. It was answered by bishops, denounced by the clergy,
and prosecuted for blasphemy. But it was eagerly read in fields and
workshops, brave men fought round it as a standard of freedom; and
before the battle ended the face of society was changed.

     Thomas Paine was born at Thetford, in Norfolk, on January 29,
1736. His skepticism began at the early age of eight, when he was
shocked by a sermon on the Atonement, which represented God as
killing his own son when he could not revenge himself in any other
way. Becoming acquainted with Dr. Franklin in London, Paine took
his advice and emigrated to America in the autumn of 1774. A few
months later his 'Common Sense' announced the advent of a masterly
writer. More than a hundred thousand copies were sold, yet Paine
lost money by the pamphlet, for he issued it, like all his other
writings, at the lowest price that promised to cover expenses.
Congress, in 1777, appointed him Secretary to the Committee for
Foreign Affairs. Eight years later it granted him three thousand
dollars on account of his early, unsolicited, and continued labors
in explaining the principles of the late Revolution." In the same
year the State of Pennsylvania presented him with 500 pounds and
the State of New York gave him three hundred acres of valuable

     Returning to England in 1787, Paine devoted his abilities to
engineering. He invented the arched iron bridge, and the first
structure of that kind in the world, the cast-iron bridge over the
Wear at Sunderland, was made from his model. Yet he appears to have
derived no more profit from this than from his writings.

     Burke's 'Reflections' appeared in 1790. Paine lost no time in
replying, and his 'Rights of Man' was sold by the hundred thousand.
The Government tried to suppress the work by bribery; and that
failing, a prosecution was begun. Paine's defence was conducted by
Erskine, but the jury returned a verdict of Guilty "without the
trouble of deliberation." The intended victim of despotism was,
however, beyond its reach. He had been elected by the departments
of Calais and Versailles to sit in the National Assembly. A
splendid reception awaited him at Calais, and his journey to Paris
was marked by popular demonstrations. At the trial of Louis XVI.,
he spoke and voted for banishment instead of execution. He was one
of the Committee appointed to frame the Constitution of 1703, but
in the close of that year, having become obnoxious to the
Terrorists, be was deprived of his seat as "a foreigner," and
imprisoned in the Luxembourg for no better reason. At the time of
his arrest be had written the first part of 'The Age of Reason.'
While in prison he composed the second part, and as he expected
every day to be guillotined, it was penned in the very presence of

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     Liberated on the fall of Robespiere, Paine returned to
America; not, however, without great difficulty, for the British
cruisers were ordered to intercept him. From 1802 till his death he
wrote and published many pamphlets on religious and other topics,
including the third part of 'The Age of Reason.' His last years
were full of pain, caused by an abscess in the side, which was
brought on by his imprisonment in Paris. He expired, after intense
suffering, on June 8, 1809, placidly and without a struggle. [Life
of Thomas Paine. By Clio Hickman. 1819. p. 187]

     Paine's last hours were disturbed by pious visitors who wished
to save his immortal soul from the wrath of God: --

          One afternoon a very old lady, dressed in a large
     scarlet-hooded cloak, knocked at the door and inquired for
     Thomas Paine. Mr. Jarvis, with whom Mr, Paine resided, told
     her he was asleep. "I am very sorry," she said, "for that, for
     I want to see him particularly." Thinking it a pity to make an
     old woman call twice, Mr. Jarvis took her into Mr. Paine's
     bedroom and awoke him. He rose upon one elbow; then, with an
     expression of eye that made the old woman stagger back a step
     or two, he asked, "What do you want?" "Is your name Paine?"
     "Yes." "Well, then, I come from Almighty God to tell you, that
     if you do not repent of your sins, and believe in our blessed
     Savior Jesus Christ, you will be damned and --" "Poh, poh, it
     is not true; you were not sent with any such impertinent
     message: Jarvis make her go away -- pshaw! he would not send
     such a foolish old woman about his messages; go away, go back,
     shut the door." -- [Hickman, pp. 182-183.]

     Two weeks before his death, his conversion was attempted by
two Christian ministers, the Rev. Mr. Milledollar and the Rev. Mr.
Cunningham: --

          The latter gentleman said, "Mr. Paine, we visit you as
     friends and neighbors; you have now a full view of death, you
     cannot live long, and whoever does not believe in Jesus Christ
     will assuredly be damned." "Let me," said Mr. Paine, "have
     none of your popish stuff; get away with you, good morning,
     good morning." The Rev. Mr. Milledollar attempted to address
     him, but he was interrupted in the same language. When they
     were gone he said to Mrs. Heddon, his housekeeper, "do not let
     them come here again; they intrude upon me." They soon renewed
     their visit, but Mrs. Hedden told them they could not be
     admitted, and that she thought the attempt useless, for if God
     did not change his mind, she was sure no human power could.
     [Rickman, p. 184]

     Another of these busybodies was the Rev. Mr. Hargrove, a
Swedenborgian or New Jerusalemite minister. This gentleman told
Paine that his sect had found the key for interpreting the
Scriptures, which had been lost for four thousand years. "Then,"
said Paine, "it must have been very rusty."

     Even his medical attendant did not scruple to assist in this
pious enterprise. Dr. Manley's letter to Cheetham, one of Paine's
biographers, says that he visited the dying skeptic at midnight, 

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June 5-6, two days before he expired. After tormenting him with
many questions, to which he made no answer, Dr. Manley proceeded as
follows: --

          Mr. raine, you have not answered my questions; will you
     answer them? Allow me to ask again, do you believe, or -- let
     me qualify the question -- do you wish to believe that Jesus
     Christ is the Son of God? After a pause of some minutes he
     answered, "I have no wish to believe on that subject." I then
     left him, and know not whether he afterwards spoke to any
     person on the subject.

     Sherwin confirms this statement. He prints a letter from Mr.
Clark, who spoke to Dr. Manley on the subject. "I asked him
plainly," said Mr. Clark, "Did Mr. Paine recant his religious
sentiments? I would thank you for an explicit answer, sir. He said,
"No, he did not." [Sherwin's Life of Paine, p. 225.]

     Mr. Willet Hicks, a Quaker gentleman who frequently called on
Paine in his last illness, as a friend and not as a soul-snatcher,
bears similar testimony. "In some serious conversation I had with
him a short time before his death," declared Mr. Hicks, "he said
his sentiments respecting the Christian religion were precisely the
same as they were when he wrote 'The Age of Reason.'" [Cheetham's
Life of Paine, p. 152.]

     Lastly, we have the testimony of Cheetham himself, who was
compelled to apologize for libelling Paine during his life, and
whose biography of the great skeptic is a continuous libel. Even
Cheetham is bound to admit that Paine "died as he had lived, an
enemy to the Christian religion."

     Notwithstanding this striking harmony of evidence as to
Paine's dying in the principles of Freethought, the story of his
"recantation " gradually developed, until at last it was told to
the children in Sunday-schools, and even published by the Religious
Tract Society. Nay, it is being circulated to this very day, as no
less true than the Gospel itself, although it was triumphantly
exposed by William Cobbett over a century ago. "This is not a
question of religion," said Cobbett, "it is a question of moral
truth. Whether Mr. Paine's opinions were correct or erroneous, has
nothing to do with this matter."

     Cobbett investigated the libel on Paine on the very spot where
it originated. Getting to the bottom of the matter, he found that
the source of the mischief was Mary Hinsdale, who had formerly been
a servant to Mr. Willet Hicks. This gentleman sent Paine many
little delicacies in his last illness, and Mary Hinsdale conveyed
them. According to her story, Paine made a recantation in her
presence, and assured her that if ever the Devil had an agent on
earth, he who wrote 'The Age of Reason' was undoubtedly that
person. When she was hunted out by Cobbett, however, "she shuffled,
she evaded, she affected not to understand," and finally said she
had " no recollection of any person or thing she saw at Thomas
Paine's house." Cobbett's summary of the whole matter commends
itself to every sensible reader: --

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          This is, I think, a pretty good instance of the lengths
     to which hypocrisy will go. The whole story, as far as it
     related to recantation . . . is a lie from beginning to end.
     Mr. Paine declares in his last Will that he retains all his
     publicly expressed opinions as to religion. His executors, and
     many other gentlemen of undoubted veracity, had the same
     declaration from his dying lips. Mr. Willett Hicks visited him
     to nearly the last. This gentleman says that there was no
     change of opinion intimated to him; and will any man believe
     that Paine would have withheld from Mr. Hicks that which he
     was so forward to communicate to Mr. Hicks's servant girl?
     ['Republican,' February 13, 1824, Vol. IX., p. 221.]

     We have to remember that the first part of 'The Age of Reason'
was entrusted to Joel Barlow, when Paine was imprisoned at Paris,
and the second part was written in gaol in the very presence of
Death. Dr. Bond, an English surgeon, who was by no means friendly
to Paine's opinions, visited him in the Luxembourg, and gave the
following testimony: --

          Mr. Paine, while hourly expecting to die, read to me
     parts of his 'Age of Reason;' and every night when I left him
     to be separately locked up, and expected not to see him alive
     in the morning, he always expressed his firm belief in the
     principles of that book, and begged I would tell the world
     such were his dying opinions. [Rickman, p. 192]

     Surely when a work was written in such circumstances it is
absurd to charge the author with recanting his opinions through
fear of death. Citing once more the words of his enemy Cheetham, it
is incontestible that Thomas Paine "died as he had lived, an enemy
to the Christian religion."

     One of Paine's intimate friends, Colonel Fellows, was met by
Walt Whitman, the American poet, soon after 1840 in New York.
Whitman became well-acquainted with the Colonel, who was then about
seventy-eight years of age, and described him as "a remarkably fine
old man." From conversations with him, Whitman became convinced
that Paine had been greatly calumniated. Thirty-five years later,
addressing a meeting at Lincoln Hall, Philadelphia, on Sunday,
January 28, 1887, the democratic poet said: "Thomas Paine had a
noble personality, as exhibited in presence, face, voice, dress,
manner, and what may be called his atmosphere and magnetism,
especially the later years of his life. I am sure of it. Of the
foul and foolish fictions yet told about the circumstances of his
decease, the absolute fact is that as he lived a good life, after
its kind, he died calmly and philosophically, as became him." [Walt
Whitman, specimen Days in America (English edition), p. 150;
Conway, 'The Life of Thomas Paine,' ii, 432]

                       COURTLANDT PALMER.

     COURTLANDT PALMIER was born on March 25, 1843. He was of good
family and independent fortune, which he taxed for the support of
advanced causes. He was President of the Nineteenth Century Club in
New York, established for the free discussion of "burning"
questions in religion and philosophy. Among its members was Colonel
Ingersoll, whom Palmer desired to speak at his grave if the malady
from which he suffered should prove fatal.

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     Mrs. Palmer did not share her husband's Agnosticism. She felt
that it would be a relief to her if some liberal Christian Minister
said a few words over her husband's corpse. Out of tenderness to
her feelings he consented to the proposal.

     Palmer died in July, 1888. After bidding the members of his
family an affectionate farewell, be said: "The general impression
is that Freethinkers are afraid of death. I want you one and all to
tell the whole world that you have seen a Freethinker die without
the least fear of what the hereafter may be."

     At the funeral, after Ingersoll had delivered the address
desired by Palmer, the Rev. R.H. Newton performed a religious
service on behalf of the wife and family; but he creditably
refrained from any pious allusions to the dead Agnostic, and
confined his brief address to a eulogy of Palmer's character.


     FRANCOIS RABELAIS, "the grand jester of France," as Bacon
calls him, was born at Chinon, in Touraine, in 1483, the same year
in which Luther and Raphael saw the light. He joined the Church and
became a monk. His heretical humor brought him into trouble, and he
was once rescued by a military friend from the 'in Pace,' a form of
burying alive. But this did not damp his spirits, though it made
him cautious; for he dreaded the idea of being burnt alive "like a
herring," seeing that he was "dry enough already by nature." He
veiled his profound wisdom with the jolliest buffoonery. On one
occasion he printed 'ane' (soul) as 'dne' (jackass) several times,
and said it was a printer's blunder Rabelais," says Coleridge, "had
no mode of speaking the truth in those days but in such a form as
this"; his buffoonery was "an amulet against the monks and bigots,"
Despite the plain language of Pantagruel, Coleridge maintained that
"the morality of the work is of the most refined and exalted kind."
[Table Talk (Bohn) p. 97] Elsewhere the same great poet and critic
said, "I could write a treatise in proof and praise of the morality
and moral elevation of Rabelais' work, which would make the church
stare and the conventicle groan." ['Miscellanies, AEsthetic and
Literary' (Bohn), p. 127]  Coleridge, indeed, classed Rabelais
"with the great creative minds of the world," with Shakespeare,
Dante and Cervantes.

     "Attempts have been made," says Mr. Walter Besant, "to prove
that Rabelais was a Christian. To suppose this is, in my mind, not
only seriously to misunderstand the spirit of his book, but that of
his time." ['Rabelais,' by Walter Besant, p. 186]  The cure of
Meudon sapped the Church with satire from within. But on February
19, 1552, he resigned his living at Meudon and Le Malis. Mr. Besant
concludes that "the old man, now that life was drawing to its
close, now that his friends were dead, dispersed, and in exile,
discerned at last the wickedness of continuing to say masses, which
were to him empty forms, in the cause of a Church which was full of
absurdities and corruptions." [p. 46.]

     Many of his friends had perished in prison or at the stake,
but Rabelais died a natural death in his bed. His end came, it is
said, on April 9, 1553, at a house in the Rue des Jardins, Paris. 

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Many stories were told of his death-bed, and may be found in the
bibliophile Jacob's (Paul Lacroix) introduction to the Charpentier
edition of Rabelais' works. When he had received the extreme
unction, he said aloud that they had greased his boots for the
great journey. When the priest in attendance asked if he believed
in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the holy wafer, he replied
meekly I believe in it, and I rejoice there-in; for I think I see
my God as he was when he entered Jerusalem triumphant and seated on
an ass." Towards the end they put on his Benedictine robe;
whereupon he punned upon a Psalm -- Beati qui moriuntur in Domino
Blessed are they who die in the Lord"). A messenger from Cardinal
du Bellay being brought to the bedside, he said in a feeble voice,
"Tell monseigneur I am going to seek the great Perhaps." Gathering
his strength for a last effort, he cried out in a burst of
laughter, "Draw the curtain, the farce is over."
     These stories may be partly apocryphal, yet, as Jacob remarks,
they are "in keeping with the character of Rabelais and the spirit
of his writings."

                         WINWOOD READE.

     WILLIAM WINWOOD READE, the African traveller and naturalist,
was a nephew of Charles Reade, the novelist. His researches are
drawn upon in Darwin's 'Descent of Man,' in the index of which his
name may be distinguished. Turning his attention to literature, he
wrote the 'Martyrdom of Man,' a remarkable book, showing a perfect
grasp of human evolution and an absolute freedom from theology.
This was followed by a Freethought novel, The Outcast. He died on
April 24, 1875. An obituary notice appeared in the London Daily
Telegraph, on April 27, bearing unmistakable evidence of having
been written by Charles Reade. It says: "He wrote his last work,
'The Outcast,' with the hand of death upon him. Two zealous friends
carried him out to Wimbledon, and there, for a day or two, the air
seemed to revive him; but on Friday night he began to sink, and on
Saturday afternoon died in the arms of his beloved uncle, Mr.
Charles Reade." Winwood Reade not only rejected belief in
immortality, but he regarded it as making many men and women, and
even nations, "spiritual prisoners of the Shadow of Death, even
while living." "From beside the grave opening to receive him," said
his friend Moncure D. Conway, "he warned these life-long victims
that the only victory over death is to concentrate themselves on
life." (Addresses and Reprints, p. 273)

                    JOHN MACKINNON ROBERTSON.

     J.M. ROBERTSON was born in the Isle of Arran on November 14,
1856. An address to the Tyneside Sunday Lecture Society, in 1904,
on "What to read," contains an interesting reference to the meager
education available to him as a boy: --

          You will not suppose me . . . to be satisfied with the
     education given in our ordinary popular schools, or with the
     social state of things in which young people have to begin (as
     I began) to work for a living at thirteen, or with the amount
     of leisure that is thus far possible to the mass of the
     workers at any age.

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     In the early 'eighties we find him both lecturing and writing
for the Freethought cause in Edinburgh and Glasgow. In 1884 he went
to London and became closely associated with Charles Bradlaugh. He
worked on the 'National Reformer,' which he edited after
Bradlaugh's death in 1891 till the paper ceased publication in
189.- He was an omnivorous reader, and his studies embraced a very
wide field. Among active workers for Freethought he was the most
prolific writer that has yet appeared, The list of his published
books and pamphlets in the British Museum fills twelve and a half
columns of the catalogue, and this does not include all his
pamphlets, to say nothing of his articles in the periodical Press.
His 'Short History of Freethought' is well known, and in the
opinion of many Freethinkers holds the most important place in any
estimate of his work. But perhaps his name will be longest
remembered by the series of writings in which he discusses the
problem of the historicity of Christ. This series includes
'Christianity and Mythology' (1900), 'The History of Christianity'
(1902), 'Pagan Christs' (1903), 'The Historical Jesus' (1916), 'The
Jesus Problem' (1917), and 'Jesus and Judas' (1927). Robertson's
intimate acquaintance with the literature of the subject, for and
against, his wealth of illustration from Comparative Religion, and
his close logical argument, make this series of writings a body of
constrictive criticism that stands by itself in the literature of
Christology. His style was sometimes heavy but never obscure, and
his scholarship was exceptionally accurate for a self-taught man.

     Robertson was a determinist and, it need hardly be said,
rejected the idea of the survival of personality after death. In
1900 he wrote a pamphlet, 'Thomas Paine: An Investigation,' which
is a scathing exposure of Christian calumnies regarding Paine's
private life, and in particular of the story of his death-bed

     For a few years Robertson was a member of the National Secular
Society, and at the time of his death was an honorary associate of
the Rationalist Press Association.

     In 1895 he stood as an independent Radical candidate for
Northampton, Bradlaugh's old constituency, but was defeated. From
1906 to 1918, however, he represented in the House of Commons the
Tyneside Division, Northumberland, as a Liberal, and during four
years of this period he was Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of

     For some months previously to his death Robertson's health had
been failing. He attended a meeting of the Bradlaugh Centenary
Committee in December. On Thursday January 5, 1933, he was at work
on two books which he was writing, and in the evening was
listening-in to a wireless talk on Saving, a subject in which he
had long been keenly interested. Shortly afterward he had a
"stroke," and with it the end had come. His remains were cremated
on January 7, and in accordance with his own oft-expressed wish
there was no ceremony of any kind at the funeral.

     Authorities: Robertson's works and 'The Literary
Guide,' February, 1933.

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                         MADAME ROLAND.

     AMONG the Giroudists who perished in 1793 was Madame Roland.
She was nourished on skepticism, complains Carlyle; but he allows
her " as brave a heart as ever beat in woman's bosom." "Like a
white Grecian statue," he says, "serenely complete, she shines in
that black wreck of things." While in prison she bore herself with
fortitude, writing her Memoirs, and addressing cheerful letters to
her daughter, her husband, and her friends. Feeling that she was
doomed, she determined to go before the Revolutionary Tribunal
alone. M. Chaveau-Lagarde, a lawyer, wished to defend her, but she
declined his services. "You should lose your life," she said,
"without saving mine. I know my doom. Tomorrow I shall cease to
exist." On October 9 she was driven in the tumbril to the
guillotine, clad in white, with her long black hair hanging down to
her girdle. With her was a prisoner named Lamarche, whom she
endeavored to cheer. She renounced her right to be executed first,
so that her dejected companion might be spared the pain of seeing
her blood. Samson would not consent to this. "Will you," she gaily
asked, "refuse a lady her last request?" and he yielded. "O
Liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name!" she exclaimed, but
she bowed before the statue nevertheless, knowing that Liberty was
holy though worshipped mistakenly with cruel rites.

     She said her husband would not survive her, and he did not. On
learning her fate, he left the kind friends who were harboring him 
at Rouen, and the next day he was found dead at the foot of a tree
an the road to Paris. He had thrust a cane-sword into his own
heart. Beside him was a letter, in which he said that he died, as
he lived, virtuous and honest," refusing to "remain longer on an
earth polluted with crimes." The most touching feature in the
suicide of this stern Republican and Freethinker was the fact that
by taking his own life, and anticipating the Tribunal, he secured
his property to his daughter.

     Authorities: Carlyle, 'French Revolution,' Bk. V., chap, ii,
Barribre, 'Mgmoires Particuliers de Mme. Roland.'

                          GEORGE SAND.

     GEORGE SAND was the pen-name of Aniantine Lucile Aurore
Dudnevant. Her maiden name was Dupin. She was born at Paris on July
5, 1804, and she died at Nohant on June 8, 1876, after establishing
her fame as one of the finest of French prose writers. She believed
in God, says Plauchat, but "certainly not in the vengeful and
merciless God of the orthodox." Her last work was a critical notice
of Renan's 'Dialongues et Fragments Philosophiques' in 'Le Teynps,'
only a month before her decease. Towards the end of May she took to
her bed, from which she never rose again. She was suffering from
internal paralysis, and medical skill was of no avail. On the 8th
of June, at nine in the morning, she "expired in calmness and
serenity." [Plauchat, 'Galdrie Contemporaine,' Pt. II] Before the
end she said: "It is death; I do not ask for it, but neither do I
regret it." ['George Sand,' by Bertha Thomas, p. 245] George Sand's
biographer in English, Bertha Thomas, writes: --

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          Up to the last hour she preserved consciousness and
     lucidity. The words, "Ne touchez pas a la verdure," among the
     last that fell from her lips, were understood by her children,
     who knew her wish that the tree should be undisturbed under
     which in the village cemetery she was soon to find a resting
     place. [Ibid]

     Such was the peaceful death of the great writer, whom Mrs.
Browning hailed in two glorious sonnets as "large-brained woman and
large-hearted man," and whom Flaubert himself addressed as "chere
maitre. "


     SCHILLER, after Goetlie the greatest of the German poets, was
born in 1759. Though he was brought up in a religious atmosphere,
Christianity never exercised any serious influence on him and he
had little respect for it as a factor in cultural progress. His
'History of the Thirty Years' War' shows that he regarded that
struggle as something more than a local contest; it was a revolt
against the spirit of authority inherent in all dogmatic religion.
His hold even on theism was slight. In a letter to Goethe he wrote:

          A healthy poetic nature wants, as you yourself say, no
     moral law, no rights of man, no political metaphysics. You
     might have added as well, it wants no deity, immortality, to
     stay and support itself withal.

     His 'Gods of Greece,' to which Mrs. E.B. Browning replied in
'Pan is Dead,' gave offence to many of the orthodox, and he
afterwards erased part of it. The Greek gods, he felt, had vanished
from the world and taken with them all that was fairest in color
and sound, leaving us the husk of the word. In his poem
'Resignation,' he makes the unbeliever say that the illusions of
superstition are holy only because they are covered up by the giant
shadow of our own fears.

     Schiller's best works were written during the last fifteen
years of his life, every day of which brought its load of pain. He
died on May 9, 1805. Carlyle gives a detailed account of the poet's
last illness: --

          Feeling that his end was come, be addressed himself to
     meet it as became him; not with affected carelessness or
     superstitious fear, but with the quiet unpretending manliness
     which had marked the tenor of his life. Of his friends and
     family be took a touching, but a tranquil farewell; he ordered
     that his funeral should be private, without pomp or parade.
     Someone inquiring how be felt, he said, "Calmer and calmer";
     simple but memorable words, expressive of the mild heroism of
     the man. About six he sank into a deep sleep; once for a
     moment he looked up with a lively air, and said, "Many things
     were growing plain and clear to him!" Again be closed his
     eyes; and his sleep deepened and deepened, till it changed
     into the sleep from which there is no awakening; and all that
     remained of Schiller was a lifeless form, soon to be mingled
     with the clods of the valley. (Life of Schiller, p. 166.)

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                      PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY.

     THIS glorious poet of Atheism and Republicanism was born at
Field Place, near Horsham, Sussex, on August 4, 1792. His whole
life was a daring defiance of the tyranny of Custom. In 1811, when
less than nineteen, he was expelled from Oxford University for
writing 'The Necessity of Atheism.' After writing 'Queen Mab' and
several political pamphlets, besides visiting Ireland to assist the
cause of reform in that unhappy island, he was deprived of the
guardianship of his two children by Lord Chancellor Eldon on
account of his heresy. Leaving England, he went to Italy, where his
principal poems were composed with remarkable rapidity during the
few years of life left him. His death occurred on July 8, 1822. He
was barely thirty, yet he had made for himself a deathless fame as
the greatest lyrical poet in English literature.

     Shelley was drowned in a small yacht off Leghorn. The only
other occupants of the boat were his friend Williams and a sailor
lad, both of whom Shared his fate. The squall which submerged them
was too swift to allow of their taking proper measures for their
safety. Shelley's body was recovered. In one pocket was a volume of
AEschylus, in the other a copy of Keats's poems, doubled back as if
hastily thrust away. He had evidently been reading "Isabella," and
"Lamia," and the waves cut short his reading for ever. It was an
ideal end, although so premature; for Shelley was fascinated by the
sea, and always expressed a preference for death by drowning. His
remains were cremated on the sea-coast, in presence of Leigh Hunt,
Trelawny, and Byron. Trelawny snatched the heart from the flames,
and it is still preserved by Sir Percy Shelley. The ashes were
coffered, and soon after buried in the Protestant cemetery at Rome,
close by the old cemetery, where Keats was interred -- a beautiful
open space, covered in summer with violets and daisies, of which
Shelley himself had written "It might make one in love with death
to think that one should be buried in so sweet a place." Trelawny
planted six young cypresses and four laurels. On the tomb-stone was
inscribed a Latin epitaph by Leigh Hunt, to which Trelawny added
three lines from Shakespeare's 'Tempest,' one of Shelley's favorite

                      PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY,
                          COR CORDIUM.
                    Natus iv. Aug. MDCCXCII.
                   Obiit. vii. Jul. MDCCCXXII.
                 "Nothing of him that doth fade
                  But doth suffer a sea-change
                into something rich and strange."

     And there at Rome, shadowed by cypress and laurel, covered
with sweet flowers, and surrounded by the crumbling ruins of a dead
empire, rests the heart of hearts.

     Shelley's Atheism cannot be seriously disputed, and Trelawny
makes a memorable protest against the foolish and futile attempts
to explain it away: --

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          The principal fault I have to find is that the Shelleyan
     writers being Christians themselves, seem to think that a man
     of genius cannot be an Atheist, and so they strain their own
     faculties to disprove what Shelley asserted from the very
     earliest stage of his career to the last day of his life. He
     ignored all religions as superstitions . . . A clergyman wrote
     in the visitors' book at the Mer de Glace, Chamouni, something
     to the following effect: "No one can view this sublime scene,
     and deny the existence of Cod." Under which Shelley, using a
     Greek phrase, wrote "P.B. Shelley, Atheist," thereby
     proclaiming his opinion to all the world. And he never
     regretted having done So. ['Records of Byron and Shelley,'
     Vol. I., p. 243-245]

     Trelawny's words should be printed on the fore-front of
Shelley's works, so that it might never be forgotten that "the poet
of poets and purest of men" was an Atheist.

                        HERBERT SPENCER.

     SPENCER was born at Derby in 1820. His parents were originally
Methodists, but at an early age he showed an inclination to think
for himself in theological matters. He will always be remembered as
the first who used the word "evolution" to express a philosophic
view of the universe as a whole, consistently maintaining that
evolutionary principles apply alike to the organic and the
inorganic world. ('First Principles,' 6th ed. pp. 218-224; 'On the
Study of Sociology,' pp. 6, 46). Another important part of his
teaching is his insistence on the need of the complete
secularization of morals. He is the best known of the expounders of
Agnosticism, the view that man is incapable of assured knowledge
concerning " ultimate reality."

     In 'Facts and Comments' (p. 201), written the year before his
death, he denies emphatically the common Christian assertion that
Freethinkers " occupy themselves exclusively with material
interests." But he finds no ground whatever for belief in a future
life, which is a superstition handed down from the savage. As there
is no evidence of the existence of consciousness apart from brain,
"we seem obliged to relinquish the thought that consciousness
continued after physical organization has become inactive."

     Spencer "passed peacefully away" on December 8, 1903, and his
remains were cremated at Golder's Green. On September 16 he wrote
to John Morley stating that he contemplated the end "as not far off
-- an end to which I look forward with satisfaction" -- and that he
had "interdicted any such ceremony as is performed over the bodies
or ashes of those who adhere to the current creed."

     Authority: D. Duncan, 'The Life and Letters of Herbert
Spencer,' 1908.

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                        BENEDICT SPINOZA.

     BENEDICT SPINOZA (Baruch Despinosa) was born in Amsterdam on
November 24, 1632. His father was one of the Jewish fugitives from
Spain who settled in the Netherlands to escape the dreaded
Inquisition. With a delicate constitution, and a mind more prone to
study than amusement, the boy Spinoza gave himself to learning and
meditation. He was soon compelled to break away from the belief of
his family and his teachers; and after many vain admonitions, he
was at length excommunicated. His anathema was pronounced in the
Synagogue on July 27, 1656. It was a frightful formula, cursing him
by day and night, waking and sleeping, sitting and standing, and
prohibiting every Jew from holding any communication with him, or
approaching him within a distance of four cubits. Of course it
involved his exile from home, and soon afterwards he narrowly
escaped a fanatic's dagger.

     The rest of Spinoza's life was almost entirely that of a
scholar. He earned a scanty livelihood by polishing lenses, but his
physical wants were few, and he subsisted on a few pence per day.
His writings are such as the world will not willingly let die, and
his 'Ethics' places him on the loftiest heights of philosophy,
where his equals and companions may be counted on the fingers of a
single hand. Through Goethe and Heine, be exercised a potent
influence on Germany and therefore on European thought. His subtle
Pantheism identifies God with Nature, and denies to deity all the
attributes of personality.

     His personal appearance is described by Colerns, the Dutch
pastor, who some years after his death gathered all the information
about him that could be procured. He was of middle height and
slenderly built; with regular features, a broad and high forehead,
large dark, lustrous eyes, full dark eyebrows, and long curling
hair of the same hue. His character was worthy of his intellect. He
made no enemies except by his opinions. "Even bitter opponents," as
Dr. Martineau says, "could not but own that he was singularly
blameless and exacting, kindly and disinterested. Children, young
men, servants, all who stood to him in any relation of dependence,
seem to have felt the charm of his affability and sweetness of
temper." ['A Study of Spinoza.' By Dr. James Martineau, p. 104]

     Spinoza was lodging, at the time of his death, with a poor
Dutch family at the Hague. They appear to have regarded him with
veneration, and to have given him every attention. But the climate
was too rigorous for his Southern temperament.

          The strict and sober regimen which was recommended by
     frugality was not unsuited to his delicate constitution; but,
     in spite of it, his emaciation increased, and, though he made
     no change in his habits, he became so far aware of his decline
     as on Sunday, February 20, 1677, to send for his medical
     friend Meyer from Amsterdam. That afternoon Van der Spijck and
     his wife had been to church, in preparation for the Shrovetide
     communion next day, and on their return at 4 P.m., Spinoza had
     come downstairs and, whilst smoking his pipe, talked with them
     long about the sermon. He went early to bed; but was up again
     next morning (apparently before the arrival of Meyer), in time

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     to come down and converse with his host and hostess before
     they went to church. The timely appearance of the physician
     enabled her to leave over the fire a fowl to be boiled for a
     basin of broth. This, as well as some of the bird itself,
     Spinoza took with a relish, on their return from church about
     mid-day. There was nothing to prevent the Van der Spijcks from
     going to the afternoon service. But on coming out of the
     church they were met by the startling news that at 3 P.m.
     Spinoza had died; no one being with him but his physician.
     [Ibid, pp. 101, 102]

     Dr. Martineau hints that perhaps "the philosopher and the
physician had arranged together and carried out a method of
euthanasia," but as he admits that "there is no tittle of evidence"
for such a thing, it is difficult to understand why he makes such
a gratuitous suggestion.

     Pious people, who judged every philosopher to be an Atheist,
reported that Spinoza had cried out several times in dying, "Oh
God, have mercy on me, a miserable sinner!" Colerus investigated
this story and found it an invention. Dr. Meyer was the only person
with Spinoza when he died, so that it was impossible for the
scandal-mongers to have heard his last words. Besides, his hostess
denied the truth of all such statements, adding that "what
persuaded her of the contrary was that, since he began to fail, he
had always shown in his sufferings a stoical fortitude."

                    DAVID FREDERICK STRAUSS.

     STRAUSS'S life of Jesus once excited universal controversy in
the Christian world, and the author's name was opprobrious in
orthodox circles. So important was the work, that it was translated
into French by Littre, and into English by George Ellot.
Subsequently, Strauss published a still more heterodox book, The
'Old Faith and the New,' in which he asserts that "if we would
speak as honest, upright men, we must acknowledge we are no longer
Christians," and strenuously repudiates all the dogmas of theology
as founded on ignorance and superstition.

     This eminent German Freethinker died in the Spring of 1874, of
cancer in the stomach, one of the most excruciating disorders.

          But in these very stifferings the mental greatness and
     moral strength of the sufferer proclaimed their most glorious
     victory. He was fully aware of his condition. With unshaken
     firmness he adhered to the convictions which be had openly
     acknowledged in his last work (The 'Old Faith and the New'),
     and he never for a moment repented having written them. But
     with these convictions he met death with such repose and with
     such unclouded serenity of mind, that it was impossible to
     leave his sick room without the impression of a moral sanctity
     which we all the more surely receive from greatness of soul
     and mastery of mind over matter, the stronger are the
     hindrances in the surmounting of which it is manifested.
     [Edward Zeller, David Frederick Strauss in his Life and
     Writings,' p. 148]

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     Strauss Left directions for his funeral. He expressly forbade
all participation of the Church in the ceremony, but on the day of
his interment a sum of money was to be given to the poor. "On
February 10 (1874) therefore," says his biographer, "he was buried
without ringing of bells or the presence of a clergyman, but in the
most suitable manner, and amid the lively sympathy of all, far and


     SWINBURNE: was born in London in 1837. He was brought up
piously, but before his twenty-first year had abandoned all belief
in Christianity. The choruses in 'Atalanta in Calydon' (1865), and
'Erechtheus' (1876), dramas cast in the mould of ancient Greek
tragedy; 'Poems and Ballads' (1866); and 'Songs Before Sunrise'
(1871) stamp him as one of the world's greatest lyric poets. These
poems and his odes and sonnets show both his marvelous sense of the
music of words and his intense antipathy to all forms of religious
or political tyranny. For Swinburne lyric poetry was the medium
through which he expressed himself as the missionary of Freethought
and Republicanism to a continent that boasted of its spiritual
heritage, but was really fettered by a superstition which the best
minds of classical antiquity would have rejected with scorn. This
note is resonant in "The Hymn of Man," and "Mater Triumphalis." The
second of the sonnets entitled "Two Leaders" -- Newman and Carlyle
are meant -- may be quoted as affording an insight into Swinburne's
Atheism as an expression of his revolt against the God-and-King 
idea --

     With all our hearts we praise you whom ye hate,
     High souls that hate us; for our hopes are higher,
     And higher than yours the goal of our desire,
     Though high your ends be as your hearts are great.
     Your world of Gods and Kings, of shrine and state,
     Was of the night when hope and fear stood nigher,
     Wherein man walked by light of stars and fire
     Till man by day stood equal to his fate.
     Honor not hate we give you, love not fear,
     Last prophets of past kind, who fill the dome
     Of great dead gods with wrath and wail, nor bear
     Time's word and man's: "Go honored hence, go home,
     Night's childless children; here your hour is done;
     Pass with the stars, and leave us with the sun."

     He rejected utterly the idea of a future life. This
is seen again and again in his poetry, but unmistakably in the
'Garden of Proserpine.'

     Swinburne died very peacefully on April 10, 1909. Up to the
last he chatted cheerfully with his friends, and his illness was
brief and almost painless. He was buried in the cemetery of
Bonchurch, "in the midst of the graves of his family." This is the
story as related by Edmund Cosse in 'The Life of Algernon Charles
Swinburne' (1917). But Mr. Gosse has suppressed an important part
of the story. Swinburne left instructions in his will that there
should be no religious ceremony at his funeral. Yet his sole
executor, Theodore Watts-Dunton, allowed the rector of Bonchurch to

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read part of the Church of England burial service, and to offer
some pious reflections of his own. Several of those present cried
"Shame!" It was "shame" awarded to the dead body of the man who had
protested so vehemently against the betrayal of his friend Burton
(Freethinker, April 25, 1909).

                          JOSEPH SYMES.

     SYMES was born at Portland on January 29, 1841. Brought up a
Methodist, in 1864 he offered himself as candidate for the Ministry
and was sent to the Wesleyan College, Richmond. In 1867 he went on
circuit as a preacher, but within five years found the fundamental
doctrines of Christianity incredible and resigned. He delivered his
first Freethought lecture at Newcastle, on December 17, 1876, and
later contributed to the 'National Reformer' and the 'Freethinker.'
He offered to conduct the latter in 1883 during Foote's
imprisonment. At the end of this year he went to Melbourne, where
he established the 'Liberator.'

     During the twenty-three years that Symes spent in Australia
his life was one continuous battle for Freethought. Not only was he
constantly in the courts for a considerable part of this period,
but he was also lecturing, debating, editing his paper, and writing
pamphlets. For details of this work the reader must refer to his
series of articles in the Freethinker (1906), "My Twenty Years'
Fight for Freethought in Australia." Among his numerous pamphlets
may be mentioned: 'Christianity at the Bar of Science;'
'Christianity Essentially a Persecuting Religion': and 'The Life
and Death of my Religion.' One of his favorite lecture-subjects 
was, "The Christ of the New Testament not Historic but Dramatic."

     Symes returned to England in 1906, and died on December 29 of
the same year. The conclusion of a series of articles, "They are
coming round," appeared in the 'Freethinker' of December 30. He was
in harness till within a few days of his death. Shortly before his
last illness, which came very suddenly, he spoke to Foote, with
some feeling of pride, of the way in which he was standing the
English winter. "A few days afterwards he was very ill, but he
refused to have a doctor until Christmas night." (The Freethinker,
January 6, 1907).

                          JOHN TOLAND.

     TOLAND was one of the first to call himself a Freethinker. He
was born at Redcastle, near Londonderry, in Ireland, on November
30, 1670; and he died at Putney on March 11, 1722. His famous work,
'Christianity not Mysterious' was brought before Parliament,
condemned as heretical, and ordered to be burnt by the common
hangman. One member proposed that the author himself should be
burnt; and as Thomas Aikenhead had been hanged at Edinburgh for
blasphemy in the previous year, it is obvious that Toland incurred
great danger in publishing, his views.

     Among other writings, Toland's 'Letters to Serena' achieved
distinction. They mere translated into French by the famous Baron
D'Holbach, and Lange, in his great 'History of Materialism,' says
that "the second letter handles the kernel of the whole question of

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Materialism." Lange also says that "Toland is one of those
benevolent beings who exhibit to us a good character in the
complete harmony of all the sides of human existence."

     For some years before his death, Toland lived in obscure
lodgings with a carpenter at Putney. His health was broken, and his
circumstances were poor. His last illness was painful, but he bore
it with great fortitude. According to one of his most intimate
friends, he looked earnestly at those in the room a few minutes
before breathing his last, and on being asked if he wanted
anything, he answered, "I want nothing but death." His biographer,
Des Maizeaux, says that "he looked upon death without the least
perturbation of mind, bidding farewell to those that were about
him, and telling them he was going to sleep."

                         LUCILIO VANINI.

     LUCILIO VANINI was born at Taurisano, near Naples, in 1584 or
1585. He studied theology, philosophy, physics, astronomy,
medicine, and civil and ecclesiastical law. At Padua he became a
doctor of canon and civil law, and was ordained a priest. Resolving
to visit the academies of Europe, he travelled through France,
England, Holland and Germany. According to Fathers Mersenne and
Garasse, he formed a project of promulgating Atheism over the whole
of Europe. The same priests allege that he had fifty thousand
Atheistic followers at Paris! One of his brooks was condemned to
the flames by the Sorbonne. Vanini himself met eventually with the
same fate. Tried at Toulouse for heresy, he was condemned as an
Atheist, and sentenced to the stake. At the trial he protested his
belief in God, and defended the existence of Deity with the
flimsiest arguments; so flimsy, indeed, that one can scarcely read
them, without suspecting that he was pouring irony on his judges.
They ordered him to have his tongue cut out before being burnt
alive. It is said that he afterwards confessed, took the communion,
and declared himself ready to subscribe the tenets of the Church.

     But if he did so, he certainly recovered his natural dignity
when be had to face the worst. 'Le Mercure Francais,' which cannot
be suspected of partiality towards him, reports that "he died with
as much constancy, patience, and fortitude as any other man ever
seen; for setting forth from the Conciergerie joyful and elate, he
pronounced in Italian these words: Come, let us die cheerfully like
a philosopher!"

     There is a report that, on seeing the pile, he cried out, "Ah,
my God!" On which a bystander said, You believe in God, then."
"No," he retorted, it's a mere phrase." Father Carasse says that he
uttered many other notable blasphemies, refused to ask forgiveness 
of God, or of the King, and died furious and defiant. So obstinate
was he, that pincers had to be employed to pluck out his tongue.
President Gramond, author of the 'History of France Under Louis
XIII.,' writes: "I saw him in the tumbril as they led him to
execution, mocking the Cordelier who had been sent to exhort him to
repentance, and insulting our Savior by these impious words, 'He
sweated with fear and weakness, and I, I die undaunted.'"

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     Vanini's martyrdom took place at Toulouse on February 19,
1619. He was only thirty-four, an age, Camile Desmoulins said,
"fatal to revolutionists."

     (The reader may consult M.X. Rousselot's 'AEuvres
Philosophiques de Vanini,' avec une Notice sur sa Vie et ses
Ouvrages. Paris, 1842).


     CONSTANTINE FRANCOIS DE CHASSFBOEUF, known in literature by
the name of Volney, and the author of the famous 'Ruins of
Empires,' was born in 1757. He was a great traveller, and his
visits to Oriental countries were described so graphically and
philosophically, that Gibbon wished be might go over the whole
world and record his experiences for the delight and edification of
mankind. His Atheism was always unconcealed, and in his famous
Ruitis he always exhibits theology and priestcraft as the constant
enemies of civilization. His skeptical 'History of Samuel,' which
is sometimes wrongly ascribed to Voltaire, was written within a
year of his death.

     A very foolish story about Volney's "cowardice" in a storm is
still circulated in pious tracts. It is said that he threw himself
on the deck of the vessel, crying in agony, "Oh, my God, my God!"
"There is a God, then, Monsieur Volney?" said one of the
passengers. "Oh, yes," he exclaimed. "There is, there is, Lord save
me!" When the vessel arrived safely in port, goes the story, he
"returned to his atheistical sentiments."

     This nonsense probably originated in the 'Tract Magazine,' for
July, 1832, where it appears very much amplified, and in many 
respects different. It appears in a still different form in the
eighth volume of the 'Evangelical Magazine.' Beyond that it is lost
in the obscurity which always surrounds the birth of these edifying

     Volney died at Paris on April 25, 1820, leaving a large part
of his fortune to be spent on prize essays on the subject of
language. Adolpbe Bossange, in a notice of the life and writings of
Volney, prefixed to the 1838 (Paris) edition of his works, gives
the following account of his last hours: --

          His health, which had always been delicate, became
     languid, and soon be felt his end was approaching. It was
     worthy of his life.

          "I know the custom of your profession," he said to the
     doctor three days before he died; "but I wish you not to play
     on my imagination like that of other patients. I do not fear
     death. Tell me frankly what you think of my condition, for I
     have arrangements to make." The doctor seemed to hesitate. "I
     know enough," said Volney, "let them bring a notary."

          He dictated his will with the utmost calmness; and not
     abandoning at the last moment the idea which had never ceased
     to occupy his mind during twenty-five years, and doubtless 

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     fearing that his labors would be brought to a cessation by his
     death, he devoted the sum of 24,000 francs to founding an
     annual prize for the best essay on the philosophical study of

     Volney's death in the principles which guided his laborious
and useful life was so notorious that the Abbe Migne, in his great
Catholic Dictionary, says, "It appears that in his last moments he
refused the consolations of religion." [Dictionnaire de Biographic
Chretienne et Anti-Chretienne.]


     FRANCOIS MARIE AROUET, generally known by the name of
Voltaire, was born at Chatenay, on February 20, 1694. He died in
Paris, on May 30, 1778. To write his life during those eighty-three
years would be to give out intellectual history of Europe.

     While Voltaire was living at Ferney in 1768, he gave a curious
exhibition of that profane sportiveness which was a strong element
in his character. On Easter Sunday he took his Secretary Wagniere
with him to commune at the village church, and also "to lecture a
little those scoundrels who steal continually." Apprised of
Voltaire's sermon on theft, the Bishop of Anneci rebuked him, and
finally "forbade every curate, priest, and monk of his diocese to
confess, absolve or give the communion to the seigneur of Ferney,
without his express orders, under pain of interdiction." With a
wicked light in his eyes, Voltaire said he would commune in spite
of the Bishop; nay, that the ceremony should be gone through in his
chamber. Then ensued an exquisite comedy, which shakes one's sides
even as described by the stolid Wagniere. Feigning a deadly
sickness, Voltaire took to his bed. The surgeon, who found his
pulse was excellent, was bamboozled into certifying that he was in
danger of death. Then the priest was summoned to administer the
last consolation. The poor devil at first objected, but Voltaire
threatened him with legal proceedings for refusing to bring the
sacrament to a dying man, who had never been excommunicated. This
was accompanied with a grave declaration that M. de Voltaire "had
never ceased to respect and to practice the Catholic religion."
Eventually the priest came "half dead with fear." Voltaire demanded
absolution at once, but the Capuchin pulled out of his pocket a
profession of faith, drawn up by the Bishop, Which Voltaire was
required to sign. Then the comedy deepened. Voltaire kept demanding
absolution, and the distracted priest kept presenting the document
for his signature. At last the Lord of Ferney had his way. The
priest gave him the wafer, and Voltaire declared, "Having God in my
mouth," that he forgave his enemies. Directly he left the room,
Voltaire leapt briskly out of bed, where a minute before he seemed
unable to move. "I have had a little trouble," he said to Wagniere,
"with this comical genius of a Capuchin; but that was only for
amusement, and to accomplish a good purpose. Let us take a turn in
the garden. I told you I would be confessed and commune in my bed,
in spite of M. Biord." ['Parton's Life of Voltaire,' Vol. II., p.

     Voltaire treated Christianity so lightly that he confessed and
took the sacrament for a joke. Is it wonderful if he did the same
thing on his death-bed to secure the decent burial of his corpse? 

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He remembered his own bitter sorrow and indignation, which he
expressed in burning verse,, when the remains of poor Adrienne
Lecouvreur were refused sepulture because she died outside the pale
of the Church. Fearing similar treatment himself, he arranged to
cheat the Church again. By the agency of his nephew, the Abbe
Mignot, the Abbe Gautier was brought to his bedside, and according
to Condorcet he "confessed Voltaire, receiving from him a
profession of faith, by which he declared that he died in the
Catholic religion, wherein he was born." Condorcet's 'Vie de
Voltaire,' p. 144.] This story is generally credited, but its truth
is by no means indisputable; for in the Abbe Gautier's declaration
to the Prior of the Abbey of Scellieres, where Voltaire's remains
were interred, he says that when he visited M. de Voltaire, he
found him "unfit to be confessed."

     The curate of St. Sulpice was annoyed at being forestalled by
the Abbe Gautier, and as Voltaire was his parishioner, he demanded
"a detailed profession of faith and a disavowal of all heretical
doctrines." He paid the dying Freethinker many unwelcome visits, in
the vain hope of obtaining a full recantation, which would be a
fine feather in his hat. The last of these visits is thus described
by Wagniere, who was an eyewitness to the scene. We take Carlyle's
translation: --

          Two days before that mournful death, M. l'Abbe Mignot,
     his nephew, went to seek the Cure of St. Sulpice and the Abbe
     Gautier, and brought them into his uncle's sick room; who, on
     being informed that the Abbe Gautier was there, "Ah, well!"
     said be, "give him my compliments and my thanks." The Abbe
     spoke some words to him, exhorting him to patience. The Cure
     of St. Sulpice then came forward, having announced himself,
     and asked of M. de Voltaire, elevating his voice, if he
     acknowledged the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ? The sick
     man pushed one of his hands against the Cure's calotte (coif),
     shoving him back, and cried, turning abruptly to the other
     side, "let me die in peace (Laissez-moi mourir en paix)." The
     Curd seemingly considered his person soiled, and his coif
     dishonored, by the touch of the philosopher. He made the sick-
     nurse give him a little brushing, and then went out with the
     Abbe Gautier. ['Carlyle's Essays,' Vol. II. (People's
     Edition), p. 161.]

     A further proof that Voltaire made no real recantation lies in
the fact that the Bishop of Troyes sent a peremptory dispatch to
the Prior of Scellieres, which lay in his diocese, forbidding him
to inter the heretic's remains. The dispatch, however, arrived too
late, and Voltaire's ashes remained there until 1791, when they
were removed to Paris and placed in the Pantheon, by order of the 
National Assembly.

     Voltaire's last moments are described by Wagniere. We again
take Carlyle's translation: --

          He expired about a quarter past eleven at night, with the
     most perfect tranquillity, after having suffered the cruelest
     pains in consequence of those fatal drugs, which his own
     imprudence, and especially that of the persons who should have

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     looked to it, made him swallow. Ten minutes before his last
     breath he took the hand of Morand, his valet-de-chambre, who
     was, watching him; pressed it, and said, "Adieu, mon cher
     Morand, je me meurs -- Adieu, my dear Morand, I am gone."
     These are the last words uttered by M. de Voltaire. [Carlyle,
     Vol. II., p. 160.]

     Such are the facts of Voltaire's decease. He made no
recantation, he refused to utter or sign a confession of faith, but
with the connivance of his nephew, the Abbe Mignot, he tricked the
Church into granting him a decent burial, not choosing to be flung
into, a ditch or buried like a dog. His heresy was never seriously
questioned at the time, and the clergy actually clamored for the
expulsion of the Prior, who had allowed his body to be interred in
a church vault." [Parton, Vol. II., p. 165.]

     Many years afterwards the priests pretended that Voltaire died
raving. They declared that Marshal Richelieu was horrified by the
scene and obliged to leave the chamber. From France the pious
concoction spread to England, until it was exposed by Sir Charles
Morgan, who published the following extracts from a letter by Dr.
Burard, who, as assistant physician, was constantly about Voltaire
in his last moments: --

          I feel happy in being able, while paying homage to truth,
     to destroy the effects of the lying stories which have been
     told respecting the last moments of Mons. de Voltaire. I was,
     by office, one of those who were appointed to watch the whole
     progress of his illness, with M.M. Tronchin, Lorry, and Try,
     his medical attendants. I never left him for an instant during
     his last moments, and I can certify that we invariably
     observed in him the same strength of character, though his
     disease was necessarily attended with horrible pain. (Here
     follow the details of his case.) We positively forbade him to
     speak in order to prevent the increase of a spitting of blood,
     with which he was attacked; still he continued to communicate
     with us by means of little cards, on which he wrote his
     questions; we replied to him verbally, and if he was not
     satisfied, he always made his observations to us in writing.
     He therefore retained his faculties up to the last moment, and
     the fooleries which have been attributed to him are deserving
     of the greatest contempt, It could not even be said that such
     or such person had related any circumstance of his death as
     being witness to it; for at the last, admission to his chamber
     was forbidden to any person. Those who came to obtain
     intelligence respecting the patient, waited in the saloon, and
     other apartments at hand. The proposition, therefore, which
     has been put in the mouth of Marshal Richelieu is as unfounded
     as the rest.

     Paris, April 3, 1819.                   (Signed) BURARD.82

     Another slander appears to emanate from the Abbe Barruel, who
was so well informed about Voltaire that he calls him "the dying
Atheist," when, as all the world knows, he was a Deist.

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          In his last illness he sent for Dr. Tronchin. When the
     Doctor came, he found Voltaire in the greatest agony,
     exclaiming with the utmost horror -- "I am abandoned by God
     and man." He then said, "Doctor, I will give you half of what
     I am worth, if you will give me six months' life." The doctor
     answered, "Sir, you cannot live six weeks." Voltaire replied,
     "Then I shall go to hell, and you will go with me!" and soon
     after expired.

     When the clergy are reduced to manufacture such contemptible
rubbish as this, they must indeed be in great straits. It is flatly
contradicted by the evidence of every contemporary of Voltaire.

     Our readers will, we think, be fully satisfied that Voltaire
neither recanted nor died raving, but remained a skeptic to the
last; passing away quietly, at a ripe old age, to the "undiscovered
country from whose bourne no traveller returns," and leaving behind
him a name that brightens the tracks of time.

                          JAMES WATSON.

     JAMES WATSON was one of the bravest heroes in the struggle for
a free press. He was one of Richard Carlile's shopmen, and took his
share of imprisonment when the Government tried to suppress Thomas
Paine's 'Age of Reason' and several other Freethought publications.
in fighting for the unstamped press, he was again imprisoned in
1833. As a publisher he was notorious for his editions of Paine,
Mirabaud, Volney, Shelley, and Owen. He died on November 29, 1874,
aged seventy-five, "passing away in his sleep, without a struggle,
without a sigh. ['James Watson' by W.J. Linton, p. 86.]

                           JOHN WATTS.

     JOHN WATTS was at one time sub-editor of the 'Reasoner,' and
afterwards, for an interval, editor of the 'National Reformer.' He
was the author of several publications, including 'Half Hours with
Freethinkers' in collaboration with Charles Bradlaugh. His death
took place on October 31, 1866, and the following account of it was
written by Dr. George Sexton and published in the 'National
Reformer' of the following week: --

          At about half past seven in the evening he breathed his
     last, so gently that although I had one of his hands in mine,
     and his brother the other in his, the moment of his death
     passed almost unobserved by either of us. No groan, no sigh,
     no pang indicated his departure. He died as a candle goes out
     when burned to the socket.

     George Sexton afterwards turned Christian, at least by
profession; but, after what he had written of the last moments of
*John Watts, he could scarcely pretend that unbelievers have any
fear of death.

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                        THOMAS WOOLSTON.

     THOMAS WOOLSTON was born at Northampton in 1669, and he died 
in London in 1733. He was educated at Sidney College, Cambridge,
taking his M.A. degree, and being elected a fellow. Afterwards he
was deprived of his fellowship for heresy. Entering into holy
orders, he closely studied divinity, and gained a reputation for
scholarship, as well as for sobriety and benevolence. His profound
knowledge of ecclesiastical history gave him a contempt for the
Fathers, in attacking whom he reflected on the modern clergy. He
maintained that miracles were incredible, and that all the
supernatural stories of the New Testament must be regarded as
figurative. For this he was prosecuted on a charge of blasphemy and
profaneness, but the action dropped through the honorable
intervention of Whiston. Subsequently he published Six 'Discourses
on Miracles,' which were dedicated to six bishops. In these the
Church was assailed in homely language, and her doctrines were
mercilessly ridiculed. Thirty thousand copies are said to have been
sold. A fresh prosecution for blasphemy was commenced, the
Attorney-General declaring the 'Discourses' to be the most
blasphemous book that ever was published in any age whatever."
Woolston ably defended himself, but he was found guilty, and
sentenced to one year's imprisonment and a fine of 100 pounds.
Being too poor to pay the fine Christian charity detained him
permanently in the King's Bench Prison. With a noble courage he
refused to purchase his release by promising to refrain from
promulgating his views, and prison fever at length released him
from his misery. The following account of his last moments is taken
from the 'Daily Courant' of Monday, January 29, 1733: --

          On Saturday night, about nine o'clock, died Mr. Woolston,
     author of the 'Discourses on our Savior's Miracles,' in the
     sixty-sixth year of his age. About five minutes before he died
     he uttered these words: "This is a struggle which all men must
     go through, and which I bear not only with patience but
     willingness." Upon which be closed his eyes, and shut his
     lips, with a seeming design to compose his face with decency,
     without the help of a friend's hand, and then he expired.

     'Without the help of a friend's hand!' Helpless and
friendless, pent in a prison cell, the brave old man faced Death in
solitary grandeur.

                          ****     ****

                           CHAPTER I.


     THE remarks which follow have reference 'Only to historical
religions antedating Christianity, and are intended to emphasize
the contrast between Pagan and Christian ideas of death. In
studying the conceptions of the future life held by the ancients we
must bear in mind that the same views did not persist throughout
the history of any given people. Sometimes outside influences
caused a change in the prevailing notions of death and the future
state, sometimes doctrines seemed to gain a new lease of life after

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having been long on the wane, and, above all, there is nearly
always traceable, as soon as a certain stage of culture is reached,
a marked difference between the conceptions of the cultivated
classes and those of the common people.

     Egypt is probably, though not certainly, the original home of
agriculture and of the most ancient civilization. The materials for
the study of its religion, and especially of its funeral ritual,
are not only the oldest extant, but are abundant and of varied
character. The collection of spells or charms known to us as the
Book of the Dead, But called by the Egyptians themselves the book
of the "coming forth in the day-time," goes back to a remote
antiquity, and the Pyramid Texts and the records brought to light
by many excavations are much older. What impresses the student of
these sources is the central importance of the doctrine of a future
life in the Egyptian religion of historic times. We do not know of
any other ancient people that made the same elaborate efforts to
attend to their dead and to secure their welfare in the next world.
The preparation of his tomb and the recording therein of the chief
incidents of his life in this world began with the Egyptian's first
sense of responsibility to himself and his family. It was the duty
of his successors to depict on the walls of the tomb his
employments in the other world. Here, as everywhere else, ideas
concerning the abode of the dead underwent an evolution. At first
this abode seems to have been a kind of shadow-world that could
hardly be described as attractive. When a paradise for the worthy
"souls" first appeared it was supposed to be situated in one of the
most fertile spots of the Nile delta, but later it was transferred
to the Milky Way, and this follows the usual lines of development
to astral immortality in other religious systems.

     Originally there were many local divinities and cults, and
they never became completely fused into a consistent system. In the
course of time, however, Osiris, the local deity of Abydos and
Busiris, acquired a solar character. He gave the Egyptians laws,
introduced agriculture, and later travelled over the earth as an
apostle of civilization, "making little use of armed force, but
winning the hearts of men for the most part by persuasion and
teaching." He was essentially a savior-god and the Greeks
identified him with their Dionysos. His death and resuscitation,
whereby he becomes the judge of the dead, with power to award
eternal life or condemn to the lake of fire, is the pivot, on which
revolves nearly everything that really matters in the ancient
Egyptian mythology.

     Three elements entered into the nature of man, according to
the Egyptian system -- the corruptible body, the ba, usually
interpreted to mean the "living soul," and the ka, the spiritual
double or divine counter-part of the deceased. The New Testament
ideas of body, soul and spirit correspond fairly closely with this
division. In the age of the pyramids the preservation of the body
by embalming was considered the first duty of the survivors,
probably because the idea of a physical resurrection had now become
definitely established, and the complete body was considered
necessary for deceased's happiness in the next world.


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     On various grounds the Egyptian religion has been described by
some Christian writers as "the least spiritual" in the world. The
criticism is one-sided. The idea of the efficacy of magic is
prominent in the Egyptian system; the future life is represented as
a replica of the present; and the features of a primitive animal
worship persisted down to a late period. Nevertheless, under
Amenhotep IV. (about 1375 B.C.) We find developed an "inspiring
universalism " in religion, with lofty conceptions of one deity,
God no longer of the Nile Valley only, but of all men everywhere.
In the judgment of souls before Osiris the emphasis is on the
candidate's moral conduct, not on the observance of ritual acts or
the faithful acceptance of doctrine. In the Book of the Dead, of
the forty-two crimes enumerated to which the deceased had to plead
"not guilty," there is nothing directly or indirectly associated
with the idea of intellectual doubt. Even for those finally
condemned at the last judgment "the torments were not eternal.

     In their conception of the destiny of mankind after death the
Babylonians and Assyrians stood in marked contrast with the
Egyptians. The future life did not occupy a prominent place in the
beliefs of the people. Despite the exceptional influence of
astrology in the Babylonian system, there is no evidence that the
spirits of departed men ever had a celestial home, or that the
doctrine of future rewards and punishments was ever evolved by the
hierarchy, the favor of the gods being usually manifested by
prosperity in this world. The main interest of the Babylonian
mythology to us is its close affinity to the early Hebrew views
concerning the creation of the world, the "soul," the nether world
and the lot of the dead. Nearly all the popular legends and
superstitions of the Hebrews on these subjects may be traced to the
idea:, current among the Babylonians.

     The early religion of Yahweh was concerned primarily with the
continued existence of the nation, and assigned no definite future
life to the individual, whose idea of "soul" followed the same
lines of ancestor-worship as can be traced more clearly in the
religion of early Rome. The Hebrew Sheol, like Homer's Hades, was
the abode of both the righteous and the wicked, and there they led
a shadowy life, which, however, reflected the realities of the
upper world much more faintly than Hades did. No amount of
ingenuity can read into such texts as Ecclesiastes iii and ix.
anything but the idea of complete extinction for the individual. No
idea of retribution was associated with Sheol. But daring the
century and a half immediately preceding the Christian era the Jews
elaborated, mainly from Persian sources, a theology of the future
world, with all the recognized machinery of heaven and hell, angels
and spirits, to which the Christian system has accustomed us, and
particularly of hell with its fire, demons and varied torments.
Despite all disclaimers on the part of liberal Christians of the
twentieth century, some of the details of this grotesque mythology
have found their way into our Synoptic Gospels. In the Book of
Revelation they appear in a more crude form, giving prominence to
the last judgment, the millennium, and the personal activities of

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     It is not correct to say that the Greek religious world
"germinated out of itself," but it preserved certain peculiar 
features till the decay of Paganism. Sacrifices and libations to
the dead must have existed in very early times since excavations at
Mycenae and other places show them to have prevailed long before
the Homeric age. In Homer, however, only slight indications are
found of offerings to the dead. His underworld is a land of shades
presided over by Hades, and under this again is Tartarus, the
prison of the rebellious Titans, and in later classical mythology
a place for the wicked in general, corresponding to the "abyss" of
apocalyptic literature. In Homer death was by no means welcomed,
for the Greeks were accustomed to quite a joyous life on earth and
the underworld had nothing similar to offer them. The frequent
references in the great Athenian writers, especially in the
dramatists, to the dead and the offering of sacrifice, show that
these ideas had acquired a great vogue at some period and contrast
noticeably with the paucity of such references in Homer. The
difference may be due to migration or to the adoption of a
different method of disposing of the dead.

     In Greek literature it is always necessary to consider how far
the poet or philosopher is simply utilizing mythological material
for art purposes or as a text for pure speculation. Plato was
seriously interested in the question of the soul and its survival
of death, but as a philosopher, not as a theologian. In his day
there was little real belief in immortality among the educated
Athenians, and many of the inscriptions on tombs show that doubters
among the "common people" were far from few. To meet with a
widespread and dominant desire for "eternal life," we have to wait
till the Orphic and other mysteries, with rites of initiation and
baptism, of purification from guilt, and the religious sects
associated with them, became influential shortly before the Roman
period. The rites and worship of Dionysos were important features
of Orphism, and Hades became divided into two apartments, the
Elysian Fields for the initiated and Tartartis for the wicked. The
beliefs of the mysteries and the very phrases used in them are
reflected noticeably in some of Paul's Epistles.

     The Romans had no mythology except what, towards the end of
the Republic, they borrowed from the Greeks and naturalized,
sometimes under protest from Cato and other typical Romans of the
old school. Their early religion shows the essential features of
ancestor worship, the "piety" that centered round hearth and home,
and the importance of the family as the unit of the communal life.
Of "gods" in the proper sense of the word, those that were
indigenous supervised agricultural processes, Jupiter dominating
all the rest. At an early date new elements became incorporated
into the ancient system, but it was not till the extension of Roman
sway over the Mediterranean and the East that foreign influences,
especially Creek, Egyptian and Syrian, made serious inroads on the
old national religion. These inroads continued for a long period
and their effects form part of the early history of Roman
Christianity. Towards the end of the Republic the educated Roman
had little real religion and his hold on belief in a future life
was slight; but the passionate protests of the poet Lueretius
against the fear of death, and of gods that were concerned with the
life or lot of men, indicate that the old superstitions still had 

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some influence on the mass of the people. But the popular and the
philosophic ideas of the other world, long current among the Greeks
and the Romans, find full expression in Virgil's poetry. At one
time the Roman Tartarus must have been a very real place for the
populace, but the fear of it never dominated life as the Christian
hell has done. Future punishment was inflicted for offenses against
the moral law, not for unbelief, and there was no vindictiveness in
the idea of a Tartars reserved for the wicked. Neglect of the
traditional religious rites was a species of disloyalty to the
State. But in the poets and statesmen of the Augustan age and the
early years of the Empire we find, in regard to belief in a future
life, either outspoken denial or a firmly agnostic attitude.
Catullus, in oft quoted lines, perhaps expresses the real view of
the majority of cultivated Romans of his time: --

          Suns may set and suns may rise,
          But we, when once our brief light dies,
          In one long night must close our eyes.

          In his beautiful little treatise 'On Old Age,' Cicero
says that at the most the survival of the soul after death is only
a probability. He adds, and the same idea is found elsewhere in his
writings, that whether extinction or survival awaits him, he views
either alternative without fear. He speaks of death as "the
cessation of toil and release from distress," and this represents
the attitude of a large proportion of Stoics and all Epicureans. In
a letter to Servius Sulpicius, however, he denied the survival of
consciousness after death and says we ought not to desire it.
Lucretius and Pliny not only reject the idea of continued
existence, but welcome death as the end of all things for the
individual. Tacitus, writing of Agricola, his father-in-law, hoped
that his character would live in men's memory. Those Romans who
still needed a religion that assured them an immortal life had to
import one, and on the establishment of the Empire the State did
not discourage such importations unless they clashed with Emperor-
worship. There was a wide choice of religions available, all
offering "the crown of life" as the reward of initiation and the
acceptance of certain doctrines. "The Orontes has flowed into the
Tiber," wrote Juvenal, the satiric poet. It is as significant as it
is true, for at Antioch the Orontes was then used as a great sewer.

                          ****     ****

                           CHAPTER II.

                  THE CHRISTIAN VIEW OF DEATH.

     WHEN we pass from the Greek and Roman attitude to death in the
most cultured period of classical antiquity, and study Christian
conceptions of the "last things," and the hopes and fears
associated with them, from the early expectation of the approaching
advent of "a new heaven and a new earth," down to the stories of
infidel death-beds in our own time, we enter a different world of
ideas and ideals. No one perhaps has expressed this contrast more
vigorously than Lecky: --

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          Death in itself was made incomparably more terrible by
     the notion that it was not a law but a punishment; that
     sufferings inconceivably greater than those of Earth awaited
     the great masses of the human race beyond the grave; that an
     event which was believed to have taken place ages before we
     were born, or small frailties such as the best of us cannot
     escape, were sufficient to bring men under this condemnation;
     that the only paths to safety were to be found in
     ecclesiastical ceremonies; in the assistance of priests; in an
     accurate choice between competing theological doctrines. At
     the same time the largest and most powerful of the Churches of
     Christendom has, during many centuries, done its utmost to
     intensify the natural fear of death by associating it with
     loathsome and appalling surroundings.
                                   ('The Map of Life,' p. 321-2.)

     Though Christianity has been the most exclusive and intolerant
of all the great religious systems, every item of its theology has
been borrowed. "With regard to the belief in heaven, in the
unmorality of the soul in the reunion of the dead, and in a future
retribution, the Pagan world differed from the Christian in nothing
save in the grounds for such beliefs." (J.A. Farrer, 'Paganism and
Christianity,' p. 108). The Christian heaven, as far as the New
Testament affords any idea of it, combines the two inconsistent
views, that God was to establish his Kingdom over men on earth, and
that the place of future bliss existed in the skies. The latter,
with all the fantastic embellishments of apocalyptic literature --
a great white throne, gold, jewels, harps -- was destined to become
the traditional notion; but it is far from attractive to educated
Protestants of the twentieth century, who have discovered that
heaven is not a place at all but a state of mind. This traditional
notion was essentially Oriental, carrying us back to the geocentric
theory of astronomy, with a solid sky above and dark depths below
it. For the modern man astronomy and geology have completely
discredited the New Testament idea of a definitely located heaven
and hell.

     The conception of a celestial immortality is not primitive. It
was at first closely associated with the rising and setting of suns
and stars, imagined as quite near to the earth, and afterwards with
the idea of a physical resurrection. This crude and repellent idea
is prominent in the religion of Zoroaster, from which the Jews took
it over, and the Pareses still believe in it. It gives scope for
vivid representation of the punishment to follow death, It is
hardly necessary to say here that the New Testament stories of the
resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ are hopelessly
contradictory and are probably late additions to the original
versions. Their main features follow the mythical accounts of the
resurrection and ascension of the other Savior-gods.

     Christian theology has also been influenced by Platonic
speculation in regard to the immortality of the soul; but the
conception of the survival of a purely spiritual entity, the
"soul," is radically different from that of a bodily resurrection,
and may have been influenced by different methods of disposing of
the dead. Christianity has adopted the more gross and repugnant of
the two views, and that is why Roman Catholics and many Protestants
vehemently oppose cremation.

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     Roman Catholics and Protestants alike affect to contrast
Christian hope with the dismal prospect of the Secularist; but the
corner-stone of their theology, in regard to death and the next
world, has always been, except for the early martyrs and
enthusiasts, the fear of future punishment rather than the
expectation of future bliss. In all religions we find fanatical
adherents willing to face death and even to seek the occasion for
it, and Church historians assign special honors to some of the
early Christians as martyrs for the faith. We may doubt whether
these Christians represent the highest type of martyrdom. "However
much we may admire the Christian martyrs," says Sir John Seeley,
"yet how can we compare their self-devotion with that of the
Spartan three hundred or the Roman Decius? Those heroes surrendered
all, and looked forward to nothing but the joyless asphodel meadow
or 'drear Cocytus with its languid stream.' But the Christian
martyr might well die with exultation, for what he lost was poor
compared with that which he hoped instantly to gain." ('Ecce,
Homo,' p. 99.)

     In cultivating the fear of death Christianity stands apart, in
a class by itself among the great religions of the world. The
prominence of an eternal hell in the Christian theology, the hymns
containing graphic details of its victims' agonies, the pictorial
representations of the tortured in works of high art, have been
dealt with so often that they need only be mentioned here. But the
anticipated felicity of contemplating the anguish of the
unredeemed, associated with Christian saints for centuries, throws
a unique light on the spirit of the religion of Christ and Paul.

     Belief in purgatory was formally declared by the Council of
Trent to be a matter of Catholic faith. Whether the ancient
Egyptians believed in an intermediate state of purification or not
has been the subject of considerable dispute; but there seems to be
no doubt that they believed in the efficacy of prayers for the
dead. The idea of temporal punishment, pending purgation from all
taint and guilt, is clearly traceable in Plato and in Virgil. In
the second book of the Republic Plato says that astrologers and
hypocrites travelled about the country, pretending that their
offerings and expiations delivered the souls of the dead enduring
the penalties of their crimes. Plato died in 347 B.C. It is
interesting to turn from his soul-saving fraternity to an
advertisement of the Association of the Crusade of Prayer for the
souls of Purgatory, in 'The Tablet' of November 7, 1931. This
Association was established, with the Pope's blessing, in 1892. The
Roman Catholics, however, rightly maintain that prayers for the
dead were common among Christians at an early period. The Reformers
rejected the doctrine with great determination; but there have been
ever since intermittent discussions as to whether it is Scriptural
or not. In the Anglican Church there is now a strong tendency to
restore it and even in some of the other Protestant bodies to
accept it in a revised form.

     There is little justification for singling out the Roman
Catholic Church for special condemnation for intensifying the fear
of death, except in so far as she made a lucrative traffic of
purgatory. It is true that throughout the Middle Ages Death was a
grim figure persistently dogging the footsteps of men and women. It

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is also true that Roman Catholics still adhere literally to the
view that death is the result of sin and to the belief in a
material eternal hell, views held to-day by few educated
Protestants; but there is no room for doubt as to which of the two
bodies represents the orthodox faith. Hell-fire and Satan are still
very important weapons in the equipment of the Salvation Army. No
doubt a large proportion of the Roman Catholic population of Europe
is dominated by abject fear of death; but here we meet with that
"flock" of men and women on a low level of culture to whom orthodox
Christianity has always appealed, and the ecclesiastical
organization, in possession of the one and only key to salvation,
has been able to quarantine the faithful from the influence of
modern humanism. We have only to read, in the literature of the
period, the story of the Methodist Revival in England, and to note
the grim emphasis on the reality of hell, in order to see what part
the fear of death and the future played in Wesley's success.
Relying on the authority of the Bible, the Protestant sects gave a
special vitality to such doctrines as original sin, predestination,
election and grace, and justification by faith, and heightened the
awfulness of the curse of inherited guilt. James Cotter Morison
said that these doctrines, as enunciated by Paul, had probably
"added more to human misery than any other utterances made by man."
J.A. Froude also expressed his abhorrence of the idea of
predestination. Man was doomed, he says, "unless exempted by
special grace," to live in sin on earth and to be eternally
miserable when he left it. Lecky declared that Jonathan Edwards's
Original Sin is "one of the most detestable books that have ever
issued from the pen of man." Even to-day among a large proportion
of "liberal" Protestants the repudiation of an eternal hell is not
referred to any standard of human ethics but to the interpretation
of some word or passage in the New Testament. For various reasons
which cannot be discussed here, one tendency of the Reformation was
to concentrate more attention and energy on worldly matters; but it
was the Renaissance that first stimulated the criticism of
religious authority, and pointed the way to modern humanism.

     The whole Christian conception of man, his origin and his
destiny, is inseparably connected with the Genesis account of the
Creation and the Fall, which the organized Church, Catholic or
Protestant, long fought to maintain at all costs. But this is by no
means the whole explanation of Christian doctrine concerning a
future life. The New Testament not only endorses in the most
emphatic terms the false dogma that man fell from a primitive state
of innocence, but it is steeped in the superstitious beliefs taken
over from the Persians and from the mysteries or the Orphic rites
which were closely allied to them.

     That the Christian scheme of redemption, the fusion of these
two sets of doctrines should have been transmitted with so little
protest from generation to generation for more than a thousand
years, is one of the arresting facts in the intellectual history of
Europe. If the cultivated Greek could rise "lightly from the
banquet of life to pass into that unknown land with whose destiny
speculation had but dallied," and the Roman could lie down "almost
as lightly to rest after his course of public duty," how did the
new religion effect so complete and enduring a transformation in
man's attitude to death and a future life? The reasons are not so 

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recondite as they seem. The Christians took over the Jewish
scriptures which gave a very definite account of the origin of the
world and man, and ready-made "explanations" of much that had
previously been matter of vague speculation, and the Jewish Messiah
became identified with one of the many Savior-gods of the Eastern
Mediterranean. Various influences, in particular the growth of the
idea of Imperialism as a result of the conquests of Alexander the
Great, and later the extension of Roman sway over the civilized
world, had prepared the way for an age of universalism, and this
applied to the religious as well as to the political life. The old
local cults were in a state bordering on disintegration in the
cities, but might be fused with the new "revelation" into one great
world-religion. For its complete triumph Christianity had to wait
several centuries during which it surmounted strong opposition.
Nevertheless, when it did triumph the organization of the Roman
Empire brought the irresistible factor of its statecraft to aid in
welding the "gospel of salvation" into the most thorough-going
supernaturalism that has ever existed, and Rome's legal system, her
wealth and prestige, were applied to the cultural enslavement of
Europe as no similar forces had ever been applied before. In a few
centuries the "one true faith " succeeded in petrifying the heart
of a Continent, for all the necessary conditions were present,
first in the Christian scheme of salvation itself, and secondly in
the political and social life of the Empire. The fear of death
became a carefully tended "segregated survival." It is as easy to
cultivate the mental as the material soil to produce a given crop.
Until our own day the views that man was a fallen creature, that
hell was a real place and that there was only one road of escape
from it, were as true for the philosopher as for the peasant. The
tomb was man's earliest temple and for centuries remained the
greatest of all his institutions. It is still the greatest
institution in Christendom.

                          ****     ****

                          CHAPTER III.


     IN Protestant quarters the wide-spread change of tone towards
belief in a material hell is part of the humanitarian revolt
against dogmas that once passed without challenge and were amply
supported by biblical texts. But it is not only in regard to hell
that modernism has made serious inroads on the traditional views of
the next world. Canon Streeter tells us that the old conceptions of
heaven and hell, quite definite enough for the early or the
medieval Church, are now "intellectually discredited, even at the
level of education which the Elementary School has made universal."
The other world is sensibly decreasing in popularity, so much so
that it is frequently urged that the Protestant pulpit is losing
its power because the old note of conviction in regard to sin,
judgment and future retribution is absent from the sermon of
to-day. This indifference to the future life, it must not be
forgotten, has asserted itself despite all that has been done to
foster the belief by a powerful hierarchy, by control of the child,
and by the official support of the State. The complaints of the
"fundamentalists" are wide-spread and completely refute the absurd 

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plea of an illiterate desire for immortality. In spite of the vogue
of Spiritualism, this change of tone in regard to the hereafter has
taken place side by side with an entirely changed attitude to the
present world and to merely temporary happiness. It is reflected in
the general literature of the day, and is the most significant of
all comments on the stories once circulated about infidel death-
beds. No stronger confirmation could be required for the statement
of Dr. Woods Hutchinson, that "one of the principal consolations of
religion consists in allaying the fear which it has itself conjured

     Those who have had concrete experience of men and women
shortly before death bear almost unanimous testimony to their calm
and resignation. Sir Henry Halford, one of the leading physicians
of the nineteenth century, says: --

          Of the great number of those to whom it has been my
     painful professional duty to have administered in the last
     hours of their lives, I have sometimes felt surprised that so
     few have appeared reluctant to go "to that undiscovered
     country from whose bourne no traveller returns."

     Similar testimony is given by Sir William Osler, Dr. Robert
Mackenna and other medical practitioners of high eminence. Robert
C. Adams, the son of the Rev. Dr. Nehemiah Adams, thus contrasts
the death-bed of the "infidel" with that of the Christian: --

          An intelligent physician states that he has witnessed
     more fear of death and more distress upon the death-bed among
     Christians than among unbelievers. He says he has never
     witnessed a painful death of all unbeliever.
     ('Travels in Faith from Tradition to Reason,' 1884, p. 186.)

     All this accords perfectly well with what has usually been the
average Freethinker's attitude to death. But to-day he dismisses 
the "consolations" of religion as less reputable than ever. The
study of Comparative Religion has deprived Christianity of every
unique claim once made for it, and "spirit" and "soul" are traced
to their origin in the beliefs of the primitive savage. At the same
time evolution has shown that man is an animal amongst animals,
subject to the same laws of birth and growth, and that there is no
more mystery about his death than there is about the death of a
chimpanzee. Dr. J.Y. Simpson, Professor of Natural Science in New
College, Edinburgh, emphasizes strongly the difficulties of
accepting evolution and maintaining "an inherent immortality for
man " ('Man and the Attainment of Immortality,' p. 232). And apart
from considerations based upon science the Freethinker is apt to
notice that each system or creed spurns nearly every other's
speculations on the subject as mere guesses or degrading
superstitions. He sees that in a large part of Protestant
Christendom heaven and hell are neither openly rejected nor
actively disbelieved, they are just survivals that have no
practical influence on life.

     But with more direct bearing on the present-day attitude of
most cultivated men to life and death, Freethinkers feel that if we
could now receive the same "assurance" of immortality, and on the 
same terms, as obtained only a century ago, it would deprive life 

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of its highest values. Death is an indispensable factor in the
moral world. The sense of personal loss when our relatives and
friends die in the prime of life is natural enough, but there is
nothing in this corresponding to an artificially fostered desire
for survival. Professor Albert Ladenburg, in 1903, at a meeting of
the Association of German Scientists and Physicians, said that he
did "not know of a single scientifically proved fact to which we
can appeal in support of the belief in immortality," and that those
who hold to it do so because they have not examined the grounds of
their belief. He quoted the opinion of Wundt, the eminent
psychologist, that personal immortality is inconsistent with
"psychic investigation," and that it would be well if we regarded
it "as an intolerable fate."

                          ****     ****

                           CHAPTER IV.

                   SOME CHRISTIAN DEATH-BEDS.

     INTRODUCTORY NOTE:. In the fierce duels between Roman
Catholics and Protestants we find in evidence the same mendacities
as both have circulated in regard to Freethinkers. A pamphlet
entitled 'The Dying Pillow,' compiled by the Rev. W. Wileman, which
ran through twelve editions, presents a number of prominent Roman
Catholics in the same category as Voltaire and other "infidels" in
their "terror-stricken" anticipation of death. Roman Catholics
retort by recounting the last Days of Luther and contrasting the
death-bed of Mary Queen of Scots with Elizabeth's. Here the
Christian is essentially true to his nature and his creed. He is
"on the safe side," and craven timidity in the face of death is
considered a necessary consequence of obstinate apostasy.

                      ALEXANDER VI. (POPE).

     RODRIGO BORGIA (Pope Alexander VI.) was born in 1431 and died
in 1503. To break the power of the Italian princes and appropriate
their possessions for the benefit of his own children, he employed
the ordinary weapons of his time -- perjury, poison and the dagger.
The charges against him include also incest and apostasy. In 1492
he was "elevated" to the papal chair, of which he had already
assured himself by flagrant bribery. During his pontificate
Savonarola, who had urged his deposition, was burned, and the
censorship of books was introduced. According to one account he
died by partaking accidentally of poisoned wine, intended for ten
cardinals, his guests. Another story relates that he died of fever.
But the circumstance that his son, Caesar, was simultaneously
attacked with the like symptoms, and "the aspect of the body, which
was hideously disfigured," serve to confirm the suspicion of
poison. (Gregorovius, 'History of the City of Rome in the Middle
Ages,' VII., p. 516-521).

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                     BONIFACE VIII. (Pope).

     BENEDETTO GAETANO was born in 1235, and proclaimed Pope
Boniface VIII. in 1294. He consistently used his office to enrich
his nephew. Dante (Inferno) calls him the "Prince of the New 
Pharisees." L.C. Jane says that he aimed "to free the Church from
all obligations to the State"; that ultimately he fell a victim to
the hostility of a single Roman family, the Colonna; and that "his
death in a frenzy of impotent rage and cursing marks the fall of
the universal dominion of the Papacy." ('The Interpretation of
History,' p. 103). He died in 1303, having for two days refused
food, through fear of poison. His last days are described by
Gregorovius as "beyond measure terrible." Feelings of fear,
suspicion, revenge and loneliness tortured his spirit. It was
reported that he shut himself up in his room, "beat his head in
frenzy against the wall, and was at last found dead in his bed."
('Rome in the Middle, Ages,' V. 595.)

                          JESUS CHRIST.

     EVERY scholar who has critically investigated Gospel story of
the life of Jesus Christ admits now that, whether the narrative
contains a nucleus of history or not, a mass of myth has surrounded
it. Here, however, we are concerned with the record as it stands

     It is not improbable that Jesus at first expected that God
would intervene on his behalf and that he would be acclaimed as the
Messiah. When he saw more and more clearly that a revolt against
the Roman power was hopeless he declared that the Kingdom of God is
not of this world. At this stage of his mission he prepared for the
martyrdom that is so often the lot of the prophet. But till the
last act of the drama he was persuaded that he was under God's
care, and shortly before the end he announced that his second
advent was near at hand.

     He spoke "with authority," a claim which no other teacher
could make in the same sense, he raised the dead, he was Lord of 
the Sabbath, and through him alone could man live forever. Despite
all this "authority," at his death, which was the culmination of
his mission to save mankind, he "began to be sorrowful and very
heavy," prayed that his cup of bitterness "might pass from him,"
and at the very last exclaimed, "My God! my God! why hast thou
forsaken me?"

     Many "liberal" Protestants to-day deny that the strong
language used by Jesus about the future life was meant to be taken
literally. Let them settle that themselves. What matters is the
tragic fact that for more than a thousand years his language
convinced Christians that an eternal hell is a real place, and that
its penalties are incurred as the result of unbelief. No other
"spiritual" authority has done so much to drench the world in

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                         WILLIAM COWPER.

     COWPER the poet was born in 1731. His father was the rector of
Great Berkhamstead. It was in his thirty-second year that Cowper
began to feel "a terrible conviction of sin," and from then until
his death in 1800 he had frequent periods of religious melancholia,
with occasional moments of exaltation, when "he regarded himself as
converted." In one of his more dismal fits of despondency he
upbraided himself fiercely for having written 'John Gilpin.' Not
long before his death, in answer to the inquiry of his doctor as to
how he felt, the poet exclaimed, "Feel! I feel unutterable
despair." W.M. Rossetti says: "The end was gloomy: religions
despair was busy in tormenting his mind, and dropsy his body." In
his poetry Cowper refers more than once to Voltaire, of whom he
says: --

               An Infidel in health, but what when sick?
               Oh, then a text would touch him to the quick."

     The self-tormenting poet's own life and death afford the most
appropriate comment on these lines, and on the tragic influence of
his theology.

                         THOMAS CRAMMER.

     CRAMMER was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury in 1532. It is
impossible to acquit him of complicity in the burning of Frith and
Lambert for denying the doctrine of transubstantiation, and of
Friar Forrest for upholding the papal supremacy. Nor did he protest
against the burning of two Anabaptists, a man and a woman. He
drifted towards Protestantism, but trembled at the near approach of
a painful death, renounced the Reformed faith, and signed seven
recantations. Nevertheless, face to face with the stake in 1556 he
grew braver. Holding in the flames the hand with which he had
signed the recantation, he exclaimed, "All! that unworthy right
hand!" ('Chambers Encyclopedia,' III., 541). Yet the Roman Catholic
writer, Mr. Hilaire Belloc, in his book on Crammer, makes much of
the burning of Frith and Lambert, but has not a word of admiration
for the Protestant martyr."

                       JOHN VIII. (Pope).

     POPE: JOHN VIII. was troubled throughout his pontificate
(872-882) by the Saracens, whom he was obliged to buy off by a
yearly tribute. He tried to unite the Eastern Church with Rome but
was defeated by the craft of Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople,
who, had been excommunicated by Pope Nicholas I. According to the
annalist Fulda, John was murdered by members of his own household.
Poison was administered to him, but as it worked too slowly his
skull was fractured by a blow from a hammer. (Gregorovius, 'Rome in
the Middle Ages,' III., p. 204).

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                        SAMULEL JOHNSON.

     JOHNSON was born in 1709. His whole life was clouded by his
fear of death. (Boswell's 'Life of Johnson,' Hill's edition, ii.
106). Being told of Hume's statement that he "was no more uneasy to
think he should not be after this life than that he had not been
before he began to exist" Johnson replied that Hume was either a
madman or a liar (iii., 295). He remarked once to Boswell and Mrs.
Knowles that death is a terrible thing and that no man can be sure
of his salvation. He died in 1784. His doctor, it is true, said
that before the end actually came Johnson's fears were calmed and
absorbed by his faith and his trust in the merits of Christ; but it
is evident from Boswell's account of his last illness that he
required a lot of "soothing" and "comforting." He was restless and
awkward and terribly concerned about the spiritual condition of
nearly every one with whom he came into, contact ('Boswell's Life,'
Hill, IV., 411-418).

                         LEO X. (POPE).

     GIOVANNI DE' MEDICI became Leo X. in 1513. He was a scholar
and liberally supported poets and artists. He excommunicated Luther
and conferred on our Henry VIII. the title "Defender of the Faith."
He is reported to have exclaimed, "Quantas divitias nobis dedit
haec de Christo, fabula! (What a lot of wealth this fable about
Christ has brought us!). He certainly delighted in the things of
sense, and to his contemporaries appeared one of the most
magnificent of Popes. He died in 1521. According to one report he
was poisoned; according to another he contracted a loathsome
disease, a disease with which every "class, married or unmarried,
clergy or laity," was then said to be infected. (J.W. Draper,
'Historry of the, Intellectual Development of Europe,' ii. 232).
Gregorovius says: "An incurable malady, exile,
imprisonment,enemies, a conspiracy of cardinals, wars, lastly the
loss of all his nearest relations and friends darkened the joyous
days of the Pope."

                         MARTIN LUTHER.

     LUTHER was born in 1483 and died in 1546. The stories of his
last days are interesting as an indication of the spirit of
mendacity that inspires Christians in their charges against each
other. What standard of veracity will they observe in dealing with
the deathbed of a Voltaire? Mgr. Segur says that Luther "died
forlorn of God, blaspheming to the very end." (Plain Talk about the
protestantism of To-day, p. 224-6). Luther's biographer, Hartmann
Grisar, the Jesuit, tells a different story altogether. According
to him, within twenty years of the Reformer's death a report was in
circulation that he committed suicide. "it is barely credible to us
to-day what inventions grew up in the sixteenth century, both on
the Catholic and the Protestant side, about the deaths of well-
known public men who happened to be the object of animosity to one
party or the other." ('Luther,' vi., p. 382--3) This was truly
Nemesis triumphant, for Luther himself did much to pave the way for
such stories, frequently relating fearsome tales of the deaths of
Catholics or unbelievers.

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                        CARDINAL MANNING.

     HENRY EDWARD MANNING was born in 1808 and died in 1892. In
1840 he became Archdeacon of Chichester, but eleven years later
joined the Church of Rome. In 1875 he was created Cardinal. One of
his utterances has become a "familiar quotation" among "No Popery"
alarmists: "The will of an imperial race is to be bent, broken, and
subdued to the Faith" (quoted in the 'Quarterly Review,' Vol. 126,
p. 294). For a considerable part of his life -- and the same is
true of Cardinal Newman -- he was almost obsessed by the idea of
death and the future life. On September 23, 1888, he wrote in his
Diary: "I have but one desire and prayer, that is to make a good
end." Dr. R.F. Horton says that as Manning drew near to this" end 
"he was oppressed with an awful anxiety about the future."
('England's Danger,' 1899, p. 139.)

                          HUGH MILLER.

     HUGH MILLER was born in 1802. He was a pious member of the
Presbyterian Church of Scotland, but throughout his life was
interested in science and literature. From, his seventeenth to his
thirty-fourth year he worked as a stone-mason. 'The Old Red
Sandstone' (1841) and some of his other geological works are not
only remarkable from a scientific point of view, but they are
written in a clear, attractive style. In the middle decades of the
nineteenth century the "conflict between religion and science"
meant for most practical purposes the controversy concerning the
age of the earth as estimated by the geologists. 'The Testimony of
the Rocks,' written in 1856, is an attempt to reconcile Genesis and
geology. Miller saw plainly enough that the theologian had often
made himself "eminently ridiculous" by not restricting himself to
his proper province; but to declare the "introduction to the
Scriptures" to be a "picturesque myth" -- that was the rejection of
the authority of revelation altogether. Under the strain of this
and other work his brain gave way and he shot himself on December
23, 1856. The tragedy of the thing is heightened today when the
Genesis account of the Creation and the Fall is so completely
discredited as the result not only of science but of historical

                         GEORGE TYRRELL.

     GEORGE TYRRELL was born in Dublin in 1861, and brought up in
the Anglican communion. He soon came to the conclusion that in
regard to his religious faith it must be "Rome or nothing," and was
received into the Roman Catholic Church in 1879. In the following
year he became a member of the Society of Jesus. It was the
question of eternal punishment that "constituted the first chapter
in the long history of his rupture with the Society." Finally, the
Jesuits suspended him and Pius X. deprived him of the Sacrament on
the ground that he was a Modernist. During this period of strain
and stress he sometimes yearned to return to the Anglican fold, to
the Church of Westcott and Hort. Many of Tyrrell's writings will
long retain their interest for the Freethinker. In 'Essays on Faith
and Immortality' (1914) he criticizes acutely some of the
"arguments" for man's survival of death.

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     The details of Tyrrell's last moments are related in Chapter
xxii (written by his niece, Miss M.D. Petre) of the 'Autobiography
and Life of George Tyrrell' (Vol. II.). In a codicil to his will,
dated January 1, 1909, six months before his death, Tyrrell
declared that there was no basis for the rumor that he made any
sort of "retractation of those Catholic principles" which he had
defended against the Vatican decrees. During his last illness he
repeated this statement. Official Catholic burial was refused him,
but the Abbe Bremond read a funeral address -- a service for which
the Bishop of Southwark afterwards forbade him to say Mass.

                          ****     ****

                    Printed and Published by
           THE PIONEER PRESS (G.W. Foote & Co., Ltd.)
              61 Farringdon Street. London, E-C-4.


     The names marked with an asterisk were not included in
previous editions.

                            PART  I.

                      Page                               Page
 Amberley, Lord............  6      Frederick the Great......  29
 Baskerville, John.........  6      Gambetta.................  30
 Bayle, Pierre.............  6      Garibaldi................  31
 Benthara, Jeremy..........  7      Gendre, Isaac............  31
 Bert, Paul................  8      Gibbon...................  32
 Bolingbroke, Lord.........  9      Godwin...................  33
*Bradlaugh, Charles........ 10      Helvetius................  35
 Goethe33         Broussais, Frangois.......11 Grote, George............  35
 Bruno, Giordano........... 12      Helvetius................  35
 Buckle, Henry Thomas...... 13      Hetherington, Henry......  36
*Burton, Sir Richard F. ... 13      Hobbes, Thomas...........  38
 Byron, Lord............... 15      Holyoake, Austin.........  39
 Carlile, Richard.......... 16     *Holyoake, George J......   40
 Clifford, William X. ..... 16      Hugo, Victor.............  41
 Clootz, Anacharsis........ 17      Hume, David.............   42
 Collins, Anthony.......... 17     *Ingersoll, Robert G.....   44
 Comte, Augusts............ 18     *Jefferies, Richard .....   45
 Condoreet................. 18     *Julian the Apostate.....   46
*Conway, Moneure D......... 19     *Tessin,.................   go
 Cooper, Robert............ 20      Littre...................  47
 D'Alembert ..,............ 20     *Lloyd, J. T.............   49
 Danton.................... 20     *Martin, Emma............   50
 Darwin, Charles Robert ... 21      Martineau, Harriet.......  50
 Darwin, Erasmus........... 22     *Meredith, George........   51
 Delambre.................. 23      Meslier, Jean............  52
 Diderot, Denis............ 23      Mill, James..............  52
 Dolet, Enenne............. 25      Mill, John Stuart........  52
 Eliot, George............. 26      Mirabeau.................  53
*Ferrer, Francisco......... 26     *Ostwald, Wilhelm........   55
*Fenerbacb, l,tidwig A. ... 27      Owen, Robert.............  55
*Foote, George William .... 27      Paine, Thomas............  56

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 Palmer, Courtlandt........ 60      Strauss..................  69
 Rabelais.................. 60     *Swinburne................  69
 Reade, Winwood............ 61     *Symes, Joseph............  70
*Robertson, J. M........... 62      Toland, John.............  71
 Roland, Madame............ 63      Vanini...................  71
 Sand, George.............. 64      Volney...................  72
 Schiller.................. 64      Voltaire.................  73
 Shelley................... 65      Watson, James............  76
*Spencer, Herbert.......... 66      Watts, John..............  77
 Spinoza................... 67      Woolston, Thomas.........  77

                            PART II.

                           CHAPTER I.

     How the Ancients Viewed Death............... 78

                           CHAPTER II.

     The Christian View of Death.................. 82

                          CHAPTER III.

     The Freethinker's Attitude to Death.......... 86

                           CHAPTER IV.

     Some Christian Death-beds ................... 87

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