Autobiography (5)
Home Up Thoughts at Fourscore Gulf of Time Old Fashioned Stories Self-help Prison Rhymes, etc. Baron's Yule Feast Purgatory of Suicides Paradise of Martyrs Poets of the Poor Reviews, etc. Site Search Main Index


[Previous page]


THE opening of the " Great Exhibition Year," 1851, found me at what had now become my settled employ on Sunday evenings—the lectures at John Street and City Road.  During the year, I delivered ten lectures on the History of Greece, and seventeen lectures on the History of Rome.  But my London lecturing, be it observed, was interrupted for six months of this year.  Living so close to Hyde Park, I saw them dig the fountains and mark the ground for the "Great Exhibition," and I saw the Queen go, in procession, to open it.  Our house, we soon found, had lost all its pleasantness.  On Sundays, especially, we seemed to live in the midst of a fair.  They were crying "Oranges, fine oranges" in our ears, all the daylight hours after ten in the morning; and the grass of the beautiful park disappeared beneath the feet of the thousands that frequented it.  The hurly-burly and noise were insufferable.  So we began to wish to get away.  I had often received invitations to lecture in Scotland, and now came one to lecture in Ireland.  So I let the house for the summer—my dear wife went to her sister's, at Lincoln—and I went down into the Staffordshire Potteries to commence my six months' lecturing tour.

    After a stay of nearly three weeks in the Potteries, I spent a fortnight in Manchester; then took the packet at Fleetwood, and went over to Belfast. I delivered eight lectures (Shakspeare, Milton, Burns, Byron, Shelley, French Revolution, Civilisation, Cromwell) and remained fourteen days in Belfast.  I liked the town, and I liked the neighbourhood; and I experienced the most perfect kindness from the friends who invited me.  But I did not feel "at home" in Ireland.  I felt as I lectured that I never got hold of the Irish mind or heart.  It is true, I went over to the Green Isle at an unfavourable time.  The names of "John Mitchell" and "Smith O'Brien" were in the ascendant then in the affections of Irish working men; and I was no friend of either of those great professors of patriotism.

    The last lecture I gave at Belfast was on the Poet Shelley; and such commendation as I gave his beautiful poetry seemed to excite ten times the applause I received when I had eulogized our glorious Shakspeare, or Milton.  I took the opportunity to tell them that I was glad to awaken their sense of approval, for I had really been disappointed with my reception in Ireland.  It had ever been the lesson taught in England, I assured them, that Irish nature was warm, generous, and easily excited to sympathy; but I had felt my audience cold, critical, and unsympathising, compared with an English audience.  I said I could not account for this.  There seemed to be no natural separation between English and Irish, to my humble perception.  Our features were pretty much alike—their country seemed like ours, for I had found the daisies and buttercups of my childhood in their fields—and I hoped we were very much alike in our love of freedom.

    "We don't want to be like the English," shouted a young Mitchellite, with all his power of lungs.

    "Then, what do you want?" I asked.

    "Nationality!" was the thundering reply, followed by clapping of hands and thundering of feet on the floor, from nearly all the younger members of the audience.

    "Nationality!" I resumed, so soon as silence was restored; "and if you had what you call 'Nationality'—that is, entire separation from England—today, what would you have to-morrow?  I will tell you.  Intestine war and bloodshed—fierce war between Protestant and Catholic—and finally, domination by some foreign power, whether French or American; and while the new conquerors used you to mortify Old England, you would be no happier yourselves, and would soon desire to unite with us again."

    The elder part of my audience cried "Hear, hear," vociferously; but the younger cried "No, no!" and I speedily brought the meeting to an end.  I may briefly say that I have never felt any uncontrollable desire to re-visit Ireland.

    From Belfast I sailed, by steamer, to Ardrossan, and thus first set foot on the shore of Scotland.  I lectured six times in Glasgow, four times at Paisley, twice at Hamilton, once at Kilbarchan, once at Barrhead, four times at Aberdeen, thrice at Dundee, twice at Dunfermline, six times at Edinburgh, twice at Dalkeith, once at Lasswade, twice at Galashiels, and twice at Hawick; and re-entered England, as I always do, gladly—but with a very different feeling from that with which I left Ireland.  I was "at home" from the first moment while addressing a Scottish audience; and I freely declare that I would choose to address some such audiences as I have addressed in Scotland, sooner than any English audience I could name.  I know no people so keenly appreciative of the value of thought as the people of Edinburgh; and I would sooner lecture to an Edinburgh audience than any other audience in the world.

    While I was at Edinburgh, two of its literary people—(Dr. Black, and Mrs. Crowe, the authoress of " Susan Hopley ") attended one of my lectures, and kindly stayed to speak to me at the close.  They learned that I had to lecture at Lasswade, and urged me to go and see Thomas De Quincey, who, they said, lived by the river Esk, about a mile beyond Lasswade.  And I did go to see him, presented him with a copy of my Prison Rhyme, and was very kindly received by him.

    One of the daughters of the man of genius—(there were two of them at the table)—manifested bad behaviour, as I thought.  Her father showed true courtesy in speaking to me on political subjects—although we were on different sides.  This did not suit the elder daughter—a really fine-looking young woman; and so she proudly chid De Quincey for not "maintaining his sentiments with dignity."

    He remonstrated with her, very gently; but the proud girl only denounced my Chartism the more.

    "My dear," said her father, whose small slender frame shook with feeling, "do not talk so, I beseech you—you will insult Mr. Cooper."

    "But I am not insulted," said I.

    The daughter caught my glance, bit her lip, and was silent.  Her father kindly walked along the Esk with me, back to Lasswade, and conversed most delight fully.  I left him with regret, and found my audience had been waiting for me full half an hour, to hear my lecture on Robert Burns.  It was the only time in my life I ever neglected to meet an audience at the right time; and I found my Scottish hearers forgave me when they learned I had been with Thomas De Quincey.

    Before returning to London for the winter, I lectured in Alnwick, North Shields, Newcastle-on-Tyne, Hexham, Carlisle, Blackburn, Padiham, Oldham, St. Helen's, Staleybridge, Wigan, Colne, Wakefield, Huddersfield, Halifax, Bradford, Leeds, York, Hull, Sheffield, Keighley, Batley, Birstal, and some smaller towns in Yorkshire.  I was so disabled, bodily, by the time I got into Yorkshire, that my good and kind friend—my right honourable friend, as I will call him, henceforth—when I reached his house at Rawdon, insisted on putting me under the care of Dr. Macleod, of the Hydropathic Establishment, Ben Rhydding, and paying all the expenses.  I remained at that most delightful place three weeks, and gratefully left it with a degree of health and strength that I had not felt for some years.

    I lectured at Leamington, on my way to London, and went over, with a few friends, to see sweet Stratford-on-Avon, and to worship, intellectually, at Shakspeare's shrine.  Before the close of 1851, I also lectured at Norwich, Leicester, Hastings, Portsmouth, Southampton, Winchester, and Salisbury, and had the indescribable pleasure of seeing mysterious Stonehenge—a sight I had longed to see for many years.

    After giving but four lectures on Sunday evenings, at John Street, at the beginning of 1852, I thought it better to leave that Institution for a time.  So I lectured at the Hall of Science only, on Sunday evenings, for the rest of that year.  I went out of town, however, sometimes, on the other days of the week, to lecture; and thus visited Devonport, Bristol, Cambridge, Peterborough, Coventry, Lincoln, Louth, Keighley, Barnsley, and Todmorden; my subjects being "Shakspeare," "Milton," "Burns," "Byron," "Cromwell," "Civilisation," "Washington," etc., etc.  At the Hall of Science, during the year 1852, I delivered a series of eleven lectures on the French Revolution, five on the British Poets, six on the life of Wellington, besides miscellaneous lectures.

    This was the death-year of the Great Duke—the " Iron Duke," as we so often called him.  Living in Knightsbridge, about a quarter of a mile beyond Apsley House, I had to pass by his dwelling every time that I went into the heart of London; and saw him, sometimes, every day for weeks together.  What a fascination, what an irresistible attraction there was about that grand old man!  How all the memorable doings of our century seemed to gather around him, as you looked at his rigid, stern figure!  I often walked close by his horse, for half a mile out of my way, marking his bearing, and noting the uniform "military tip," of his forefinger towards his forehead, that he gave to all those, great or little, who took off their hats to him; and there were usually scores who did this.

    I remembered how Radicals employed the rough side of their tongue—to quote an old Lincolnshire phrase—when they described "the man who helped Castlereagh to carry up the Green Bag to the House of Lords," for the prosecution of poor Queen Caroline—I remembered the laughter of old Rads when they described the fierce, exultant hurrah that they gave at the door of Westminster Abbey when the body of "carotid-artery-cutting Castlereagh " was taken out of the hearse, and the Duke held up his hand, and said, "Hush!"—I remembered his opposition to Reform, in the later time, and the caricatures of him as a hook-nosed coachman on the box, and King William the Fourth inside, with the inscription beneath: "The Man wot drives the Sovereign "—I could not forget the barricades to his house put up during the Reform struggle, for I saw them every day; they were never taken down till after his death.  But all this had passed away; and Wellington had become not only the great pillar of State and most valued counsellor of his Queen; but, next to her, the most deeply respected and most heartily honoured person in the realm.

    Everybody liked to see "the Duke"; and no one would hear a word against him.  Soldiers—old soldiers—they idolized him.  They regarded him as the very personification of English valour and English sagacity.  Politicians—they all had a glance towards him when they contemplated new measures.  He was an institution in himself.  We all felt as if we lived, now he was dead, in a different England.  The very elements were held to sympathize with the national loss.  It began to rain on the day that the Duke died, and it continued to rain—rain—rain!

    Some may be still in the habit of crossing Hyde Park from the Marble Arch to the Albert Gate, and may remember a tall old man who kept the spring at the head of the Serpentine, and who used to hand a glass of water, as a morning draught before breakfast, to his customers, who remembered him with a sixpence now and then.  I often tarried to talk with him, and learned that he had undergone the Peninsular campaign with Wellington; and that he had at the time been both soldier and servant to General Lygon, who had secured him the little post at the spring in Hyde Park, in addition to his small pension.

    "Still very rainy, my friend," I said to him one morning, about three weeks after the Duke's death.

 "Yes, sir:—there will be no more fair weather till the Duke is buried," said he, very solemnly.

    I stared at the old man—who kept solemn silence.

    "Not till the Duke is buried!" I said. "What makes you think so, my friend?  It will be three more weeks before the Duke is buried."

    "I don't care for that, sir," said the old man ; "I tell you there will be no more fair weather till he is buried."

    And he drew himself up very statelily, and turned to wait on the next comer to the spring.  I walked on—thinking about the word "superstition," which any fool can employ as readily as the wisest man; and thinking also of history's multitudinous records, of the storm all round the English coast on the night of Cromwell's death—of the storm that seemed to threaten to tear St. Helena from its foundations in the Atlantic, on the night of Napoleon's death—on the natural convulsions at the death of Julius Cæsar, and others—and saying to myself, "What do I know about it?  If there be a Future State, what strange discoveries it may unfold to us!  What do we know about the sympathies of nature?  How largely they may exist without our knowing it in our present state!"

    The funeral of the Great Duke was the most impressively grand spectacle I ever beheld.  The morning was fair—the first fair morning for six weeks!  The bright sun seemed something new: the luminary seemed to have come out to grace the splendid show; and to do honour to him in death whom the nation had honoured in life.  I witnessed the passing of the entire funeral procession, and the greater part of it twice.  First, I got a place on the south side of the Green Park, near the Duke of Sutherland's, and saw the procession come up the Mall, from the Horse Guards.  Then I crossed the Park, and got a standing-place opposite the Duke of Cambridge's—the house in which Lord Palmerston afterwards lived—and saw the slow march along Piccadilly.  The pomp of the "Dead March in Saul" was varied by some of the regimental bands playing "Sicilian Mariners," and others Handel's "Old Hundred-and-Fourth."  The varied costume of the English regiments mingled with the kilted Highlanders, and Lancers and Life Guards with the Scotch Greys, rendered the vision picturesque as well as stately.

    But it was upon the huge funeral car, and the led charger in front of it, that all eyes gazed most wistfully:—above all, it was upon the crimson-velvet covered coffin, upon the vast pall—not covered by it, borne aloft, on the car, with the white-plumed cocked hat, and the sword and marshal's baton lying upon the coffin, that all gazed most intently.  I watched it—I stretched my neck to get the last sight of the car as it passed along Piccadilly, till it was out of sight; and then I thought the great connecting link of our national life was broken: the great actor in the scenes of the Peninsula and Waterloo—the conqueror of Napoleon—and the chief name in our home political life for many years,—had disappeared.  I seemed to myself to belong now to another generation of men; for my childhood was passed amid the noise about Wellington's battles, and his name and existence seemed stamped on every year of our time.


I SAT up the whole night preceding the day of the Great Duke's funeral to finish the writing of what was intended to be a three-volume novel.  I remember well tying it up, getting my coffee, and then hurrying off to the Green Park to see the funeral spectacle, with the intent to take the manuscript to a publisher when the sight was over.  I had been trying my hand at novel-writing, by intervals, for more than a year.  After the appearance and popular reception of Charles Kingsley's "Alton Locke," I had a conversation with Mr. Edward Chapman, of the firm of Chapman and Hall, when he said to me,—

    "Why, I should think you could write a Chartist novel, and a successful one.  You see Kingsley has succeeded; and you ought to know a deal more about Chartism than he can possibly know."

    "Would you publish a Chartist novel if I were to write one?" I asked; for I remembered well how my poor Prison Rhyme had been rejected by this very house, because they were advised "to have nothing to do with the Chartism in it."

    "If the novel suits us, we will publish it," replied Mr. Chapman.  "Of course we never publish anything unless we think it worth publishing.  But I should think you could hardly fail to write a good Chartist novel."

    "You mean, then, that you will take such a novel of me, if I can write one?"

    "Yes," was the reply; and I said, "Then I'll try."

    And try I did; and took my manuscript to Mr. Edward Chapman, and left it in his hands.  This was in the latter part of 1851, or in the very early part of 1852.  I very soon had a reply.  The house could not publish my novel, because their literary adviser—who was, of course, Mr. John Forster of the Examiner—advised them not, declaring that "evidently, prose fiction was not Mr. Cooper's forte."  The reader will be sure that I was not surprised at this—coming from the eternal extinguisher of all my literary hopes, Mr. John Forster of the Examiner.

    But neither was I discouraged.  I had made up my mind to write a novel, or more, that some publisher would take.  So I threw aside the rejected manuscript, and commenced an entirely new story, which I finished on the morning of the Great Duke's funeral, and entitled "Alderman Ralph."  I took this manuscript to Mr. Edward Chapman, and asked him whether he would look it over and tell me whether he would publish it.  He consented to receive it for c-o-n-s-i-d-e-r-a-t-i-o-n.  It was rejected, of course.  I quite expected that; but was determined that Mr. John Forster should exercise all the power he could to extinguish me.  I regarded him as a bitter personification of Whiggery that was natively instinct with hatred of everything like Chartism, living or dead.

    My novel was put into the hands of Messrs. Routledge, and they received it, and published it, in 1853.  Their reception of "Alderman Ralph" made me resolve to compose another novel; and in this new novel I embodied some part of the story of my former Chartist novel, but burnt the Chartist part of it.  I suppose about a third of the new novel was composed of my older one.  I gave my new novel into the hands of Messrs. Routledge, having first entitled it "Cain Colton; or, the History of the Great Family Feud of the Uphams and the Downhams."  But when they made up their minds to publish it, they determined to style it simply "The Family Feud."  They brought out this novel at the beginning of 1855; and gave me £100 for "Alderman Ralph," and the like sum for "The Family Feud."

    Not long after the publication of "The Family Feud," I commenced another novel, which I purposed calling "The Wharfedale Beauty."  But events put a stop to my novel-writing; and I have never resumed it, and never shall.

    I forgot to chronicle one notable event at the beginning of 1852.  A person who called himself "Edward Youl" obtained introduction as a literary contributor to William Howitt's journal, and other periodicals, and wound himself into the position of a visitor at Mr. Howitt's, and also at my humble home.  At the close of the year 1851, he intimated that he was leaving London; and we saw him no more.  But within a few days, first came a letter from Lord Brougham to William Howitt, expressing a hope that himself and Mary Howitt were better, and regretting that he was only able to send them so small a sum on, their late application for money!  Mr. Howitt wrote to Lord Brougham to learn the meaning of the strange letter; and soon discovered that Youl had pried into the affairs of his family that he might write a counterfeit letter in William Howitt's name, and so obtain money from Lord Brougham.

    My friend W. J. Fox having called on his friend Serjeant Talfourd about this very time, was informed by the Serjeant that his (W. J. Fox's) friend Thomas Cooper had applied for help in his affliction, and he (the Serjeant) was happy in having been able to send Mr. Cooper twenty pounds!

    "Affliction!" exclaimed Fox—"what affliction?  The man is in jolly good health, I assure you.  He called on me only yesterday; and I never saw him look better.  There must be some mistake."

    "Well: here is his letter, however," said Talfourd; "read it for yourself."

    "I don't think this is his writing," said Fox, "though it looks like an imitation.  But the tone of the letter is so unlike him.  Will you lend me this letter for a day or two?  I suppose you have heard of the villainous trick played by a man called Youl"—and he then related what he knew of the counterfeit letter to Lord Brougham.

    Serjeant Talfourd consented that Mr. Fox should take the letter, and Mr. Fox soon summoned me to his house in Charlotte Street, Bedford Square.  He acted cautiously.

    "You were ill when you called on me the other day," said he; "why did you not tell me?"

    "No," said I, "I was not ill.  What makes you think I was ill?"

    "But you have been very ill of late?"

    "Nonsense!" said I, and I burst into laughter.

    "Have you not been ill, and written to Serjeant Talfourd for money, and received twenty pounds from him?"

    "Good God!" I exclaimed, "what do you mean?"—for my laughter had changed to alarm, seeing my good friend's serious look.

    "Look at that letter!  Is it not your own handwriting?"

    "My handwriting? No," I cried, after I had run over a part of the letter with a sense of choking; "why this is another trick of that insidious fiend Youl, that you were talking about the other day!"

    "Then you must inform Talfourd instantly; and then see Howitt, and try if you cannot find out where the foul thief has hidden himself, and have him brought to justice."

    By the assistance of the police we found that the fellow had quitted London for Liverpool, the police having had their eye upon him for some time,—we little suspecting that we were harbouring a well known and practised thief, who wore different dresses, could put on a wig, wear false eyebrows, and even change his voice, so as to pass for several different persons.  Mr. Howitt went off to Liverpool; but the police had there lost sight of him.  Lord Brougham thought it would be a waste of money to employ a skilful search for him; and so pursuit was given up.

    I went to Serjeant Talfourd's house in Russell Square, to assure him that I had never written a line to him; and to inform him that several expressions in the letter to which my name was appended by a false signature, made me feel sure the letter a& dressed to him was written by the villain who had made himself known to Mr. Howitt and myself as "Edward Youl."  Serjeant Talfourd received me with the most solicitous kindness.  He cared nothing about the loss of the £20, he said, if I would only accept £20 from him.  He feared I was not getting rich by authorship: and he pressed me so hard to take the money, that I consented; and he immediately wrote out a cheque on Coutts' bank, which I found was for £25.

    I called again at Mr. Fox's, and showed him the cheque.  He threw himself back in his chair and burst into laughter all over—for every part of his body seemed always to partake in his laughter—and exclaimed,—

    "Ho—ho—ho!  He has done it to ease his conscience!  He wanted to ease his conscience in the same substantial way, I have no doubt, when I asked you to call upon him, and you wouldn't."

    My friend Mr. Fox was alluding to a confession he had drawn from Serjeant Talfourd.  During the discussion in the House of Commons, on the 20th of June, 1848, upon Mr. Hume's motion for the enlargement of the franchise, Mr. Fox pleaded, in behalf of the working classes, that there were men of intelligence among those who had suffered imprisonment for their Chartism—witness, William Lovett, who had written his book on "Chartism" in the gaol, and Thomas Cooper, whose noble poem, "The Purgatory of Suicides," was brought before the reading public chiefly through the recommendation of the honourable gentleman opposite (Mr. Disraeli).  This drew Talfourd to his feet to plead against Mr. Hume's motion, in order to support the Whig ministry.  His friend Mr. Fox had spoken of Thomas Cooper, the Serjeant said; and he did not yield to his friend or to the honourable gentleman opposite in their intelligent admiration of that magnificent poem "The Purgatory of Suicides;" but who was Thomas Cooper?  He (the Serjeant) had been one of the counsel for the prosecution of Thomas Cooper, and he felt compelled to state the truth, that Thomas Cooper had delivered harangue upon harangue to the people in the Potteries, and the speeches of Thomas Cooper were followed by deeds of violence.

    My friend Fox was indignant at this; and, as he could not speak a second time in the debate, he requested Richard Cobden to get up and reply to Talfourd in my behalf.  And illustrious Richard Cobden did reply.  He felt surprised, he said, that the learned Serjeant should have spoken of Mr. Cooper in the way that he did; for everyone who knew Mr. Cooper believed he had never advised or counselled violence, and no one regretted the occurrence of the violence alluded to more than did Mr. Cooper himself.

    A few days after this scene in the House of Commons, Fox was present at a soiree in Serjeant Talfourd's house in Russell Square.  The Serjeant, he thought, seemed to lack the hilarity with which he usually received guests; and during a part of the evening when everybody seemed to be busily engaged in conversation, he observed the Serjeant slily beckon him to a vacant sofa.  Fox took his seat by Talfourd's side.

    "My friend," said Talfourd, in a low tone, and, as Fox declared, with a most lugubrious face, "I feel so uneasy about the words I uttered in the House of Commons about your friend Cooper.  I don't believe he advised the violence committed; I have told you so before, and I wonder that I uttered the words I did.  It was a moral obliquity I cannot account for."

    "Moral obliquity!" said Fox, bursting into laughter—"I say moral obliquity too.  You spoke not for conscience, but for the Ministers.  You meant a judgship!" ended Fox, sticking his elbow into Talfourd's chest.

    "Don't—my friend—don't!" cried Talfourd; "but I deserve it all.  Only, now I want you, if you please, to give my best and heartiest regards to Mr. Cooper, and tell him that I wish to see him here, as soon as ever he can make it convenient to come.  I want to see him particularly."

    "I'll tell him," said Fox; and indeed he told me all about it from first to last, and urged me to comply with Talfourd's request.  But I refused, and did not enter his house till I had to defend myself against Youl's mischief.  Talfourd always shook hands with me if he met me in the street, and at different times gave me other sums, which amounted altogether to nearly one hundred pounds.  This was very noble conduct on the part of one who had been the leading barrister against me at my long second trial.  But Talfourd's unlimited kindness to poor Pemberton ("Pel Verjuice") and others, is so well known, that those who are acquainted with his life will not be surprised at what I have related.

    My good friend Charles Kingsley also assures me that my last judge, the Hon. Thomas Erskine, always spoke of me with the utmost kindness, and immediately sent out to buy a book of mine, when he learned that I had written another.  I said, a good many chapters ago, that I could never make money.  Well, but, thank God! I can make friends.  And when sometimes I fall into the vein of musing on the rough usage I have met with now and then, in the course of my pilgrimage,—turning to the better side, I think of the many noble hearts who have shown me sympathy and friendship, and feel that I am as rich as Rothschild.


IN November, 1852, I commenced a series of Sunday evening lectures on the "History of England," and continued them till the end of May, 1853; then resumed them in October, 1853, and continued them to the beginning of May, 1854; I recommenced them in October, 1854, and concluded them in the middle of April, 1855—making fifty-one lectures; the longest series of lectures I ever ventured on in my life.  I had crowds at my audiences, almost to the end of the time.  In the intervals of the series I delivered other lectures at the Hall of Science, and, among them, seven on Schools of Painters—Italian, Dutch, Flemish, Spanish, French, and English—pointing out to working men, who listened, the chief features of excellence in our National Gallery, the Bridgewater Gallery, the Dulwich Gallery, the Galleries at Hampton Court, etc.—for I had spent unnumbered hours in each of these Galleries, and my passion for pictures, at one time, was almost as great as my passion for music.

    At the John Street Institution I began again to lecture on Sunday evenings at the beginning of May, 1853; and, thenceforward, lectured alternately at that Institution, and at the Hall of Science, to the end of 1853, through the whole year 1854, and to the middle of April, 1855.  The lectures on the Schools of Painters were also given at John Street, together with eight lectures on the Life of Napoleon, four on the Life of Wellington, two on the Life of Nelson, and six on Russian History.

    Besides the lectures I have mentioned in different chapters, I delivered also, during these years of Sunday evening lecturing at the John Street Institution, the Hall of Science, and the National Hall, Holborn, discourses on the following subjects: the Lives of Luther, Mahommed, Cobbett, Paine, Kosciusko, Raleigh, William Tell, Rienzi, Howard, Oberlin, Neff, Bernard Gilpin, Latimer, Washington, Sir William Jones, Dr. Johnson, Major Cartwright, William Godwin, Louis Philippe, George Fox, Rousseau, Voltaire, John Knox, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Defoe, William Pitt, Columbus, Sir Isaac Newton, Cortez, Pizarro, Thomas à-Becket, Sir Robert Peel, Sir Charles J. Napier, Wickliffe, Calvin, Sir Thomas More, Wesley, Swedenborg, Pythagoras, and Beau Brummell,—Negro Slavery, Church Establishments, Taxation and the National Debt, Mental Cultivation, the Age of Chivalry, the Middle Ages, Wrongs of Poland, the Gypsies, Athens under Pericles, Conquests of Alexander the Great, Ancient Egypt, Histories of Italy, Switzerland, Hungary, etc., Pio Nono and the Italians, Genius of Pope, Dryden, Scott, Cowper, etc., the Peterloo Massacre and Henry Hunt, Monarchy, Aristocracy, Democracy, Early English Freethinkers, Philosophy of Lord Bacon, Philosophy of Locke, Gulliver's Travels, Astronomy, Geology, Natural History, the Vegetable Kingdom, the Baltic Nations, and many other subjects.  The reading which was necessary in order to enable me to deal with such a variety of themes, and to render my lectures attractive to crowds of intelligent hearers, was, of course, very great.  At John Street, especially, I was surrounded by scores of the really elite of the working classes: the pianoforte makers of Marylebone, and others.  The Library of the British Museum was my great resort for solid reading; while in Westerton's Circulating Library, which was near me, I had ready access to the periodicals and new publications of the day.  Except in those devoted days of my youth, I never read so many books as I read in the few years I lived at Knightsbridge.

    In September, 1854, I left my beautiful house in Park Row, Knightsbridge, and went to live in the Green Lanes, Stoke Newington.  I had not above half the money to pay for rent at my new house, and I had a garden.  But I had no longer the grand outlook on Hyde Park; and there were so many associations connected with my seven years' residence in Knightsbridge that I left it with regret.  It had been the scene of frequent visits by my kind friends John Elliotson and John Ashburner—two very noble medical men who honoured me with their friendship, often stayed a long hour with me for converse, and insisted on the gratuitous performance of medical attendance either on myself or my dear wife.  And there I often gathered round me, in evening hours, young eager aspirants for literary distinction, W. Moy Thomas, and George Hooper, and Neville Burnard the sculptor—who is a true poet as well,—and some who have passed away.

    One night—and only one night—I persuaded my old playmate Thomas Miller to come; and then secured Willie Thom to meet him.  We had a merry meeting, for there were a round dozen of us; and as Willie Thom mellowed he began to pour out his wondrous words of thought till Miller grew silent, kept the pipe in his mouth (we were all smoking that could smoke)—and fixed his eyes on Thom in amazement, till he broke our with,—"Why the d— don't you write such talk?  It would bring you gold!"  "I dinna think it's e'en worth siller," said Willie, very innocently.

    Before I pass on to a new step in my changeful life, let me say that my novel of "The Family Feud" drew a handsome critique in the Examiner from Mr. John Forster—for a wonder!  I may as well tell how it came about.  I went to 5, Cheyne Row, Chelsea, one evening, with the intent of spending a couple of hours with my illustrious friend Thomas Carlyle.  But I had not been with him more than half an hour when Mr. John Forster was announced.  I met him, as the reader may suppose, without any high degree of pleasure.  And although there was no treat on earth I could have desired more than to listen to the interchange of thought between two such intellects as those of Carlyle and John Forster,—I felt inclined, with the remembrance of the past, to "cut my stick!"

    And I certainly should have decamped hastily, had it not been for an incident worth mentioning.  A loaded truck stopped at the street-door—there was a loud knock—and the maid-servant ran upstairs, breathless, to say that a huge parcel had been brought.  Mr. Carlyle seemed all wonder, and muttered, "A huge parcel! what huge parcel?—but I'll come down and see."  And, somehow or other, we all went down to see—for there was a large wooden case, evidently containing a picture.  A hammer and a chisel were soon brought, and I offered to take them, and open the case—but, no! my illustrious friend would open it himself.

    "It's doubtless the picture from that old Landor," said he; and he worked away vigorously with his implements till there was revealed a very noble picture indeed, with its fine gilded frame.  It was a portrait of David Hume, in full dress—the dress he is said always to have worn when he sat down to write: so strangely were his polished style and his full-dress associated!

    "Only think of that old Landor sending me this!" broke out Carlyle again and again, as we all stood gazing on the portrait with admiration.

    This incident served to "break the ice" so far that I joined a little in the conversation that followed; and when Mr. Carlyle quitted the room to fetch a book he wanted to show his friend, Mr. John Forster said to me, in a marked tone,—

    "You have just had a novel published by Routledge—do you happen to know whether a copy has been sent to the Examiner?"

    I replied that I did not know; but I would inquire.

    "Take care that it is addressed to me, will you?" said Mr. Forster; you understand what I mean?  Take care that it is addressed to me, personally and he nodded, and smiled.

    "Thank you, sir," said I; "I will address a copy to you, myself "—for I thought I did understand what he meant.

    I rose to go soon after, and my illustrious friend, with the perfect kindness he has always shown me, would go with me to the street door to say "good night."  So I whispered to him, in the passage, and requested him to strengthen the good intent there seemed to lie in John Forster's mind towards me.  Carlyle gave me one of his humorous smiles, and squeezed my hand, as an assurance that I might depend upon him.  And so the favourable critique on my "Family Feud" appeared in the Examiner.

    The reader will observe that, in the beginning of this chapter, I said that my lecturing on Sunday evenings was continued both at the Hall of Science and John Street to the middle of April, 1855.  But there it terminated.  I had remained in London two whole years—taking no summer lecturing tour, as usual—on purpose to write novels; but I was so little satisfied with my success, although it was not despicable, that I determined on getting into the country once more.  There was another stimulant to my wish for change.  I felt myself to be in the wrong place at the John Street Institution; the managers of it seemed to have lost their approval of my teaching; and I wished to break off my connection with them.  I dare say the wish was mutual; and so no offence was taken when I told them I should leave them.

    Before I could make any arrangements for revisiting old friends in the country, my course was utterly changed by an unexpected occurrence.  My friend W. J. Fox said to me one day, when I called to borrow a book,

    "I had a conversation with Mr. Wyld, of the 'Great Globe,' in the House of Commons the other day about yourself; and he wishes you to call upon him."

    I found that the proprietor of the "Great Globe," who was at that time advertising his "Model of the Crimea and Sebastopol," for exhibition, was getting casts of it made, with the purpose of sending them into some of the great towns. The reader will remember that 1855 was the most exciting year of the Crimean War.  Mr. Fox said that Mr. Wyld was disposed to remunerate me well, if I would take charge of one of the models and lecture upon it.

    I called on Mr. Wyld, and agreed to take charge of a model, to be exhibited first at Birmingham.  We did not stay many weeks, however, there.  Mr. Wyld next directed me to remove to Manchester; and there I remained many weeks, lecturing thrice and sometimes four times in the day, with the model before me, on the Crimean War.  I threw my whole nature into my work, as usual—fought the dashing Light Cavalry charge and the Battle of Inkerman, till the crowds who listened to me almost thought they were in the fight themselves; and, as the war progressed, described the attack on the Redan and the winning of the Malakhoff, with fiery reality—often feeling myself so completely exhausted, after the last evening effort, that I could scarcely crawl to the Clarendon to get my mutton-chop.

    In consequence of an offer of £70 being made by a party in Burnley for the exhibition of the model in that town for a fortnight, we left Manchester too soon.  The fall of Sebastopol occurred when we reached Burnley; and thus the crowning success we should have had in Manchester was lost.  I was wearied with the Model, and so gave up my engagement with Mr. Wyld, and he had it taken back to London.  I was invited, however, to lecture on the Crimean War, in several towns, with the aid of pictures on large canvas, sketched by my talented young assistant, Mr. Charles Dyall, now of the Liverpool Walker Institute.  After visiting Preston, Haslingden, Wigan, Duckinfield, Staleybridge, Leigh, Bury, Rochdale, Blackburn, Manchester, Tamworth, Congleton, and Burton-on-Trent, I returned to London.

    I had left it in the beginning of May, and I returned to it in November, 1855.  But the six months' absence had wrought a signal change in me.  I felt as if all my old work were done, and yet I knew not how to begin a new work.  My heart and mind were deeply uneasy, and I could hardly define the uneasiness.  I felt sure my life for years had been wrong.  I had taught morals, and taught them strictly; but the questioning within, that would arise, day by day, and hour by hour, made my heart ache.  "Why should man be moral?  Why cannot he quench the sense of accountability? and why have you not taught your fellowmen that they are answerable to the Divine Moral Governor, and must appear before Him in a future state, and receive their reward or punishment?"

    It was not a conviction of the truth of Christianity, of the reality of the Miracles and Resurrection, or of the Divinity of Christ, that had worked the change in me.  I was overwhelmed with a sense of guilt in having omitted to teach the right foundation of morals.  I had taught morals as a means of securing and in creasing men's happiness here—but had left them without Divine sanctions for a moral life.  I had ignored religion in my teaching.

    I commenced the year 1856 at the Hall of Science, with the aid of a large map of Europe, and signified that I should occupy the Sunday evenings by lecturing on the various countries, their productions, people, habits and customs.  I delivered the first lecture on the 6th of January, "Russia and the Russians;" but on the 13th, when I should have descanted, according to the printed programme, on "Sweden and the Swedes," I could not utter one word.  The people told me afterwards that I looked as pale as a ghost, and they wondered what was the matter with me.  I could hardly tell myself; but, at length, the heart got vent by words, and I told them I could not lecture on Sweden, but must relieve conscience—for I could suppress conviction no longer.  I told them my great feeling of error was that while I had perpetually been insisting on the observance of a moral life, in all my public teachings for some years, I had neglected to teach the right foundation of morals—the existence of the Divine Moral Governor, and the fact that we should have to give up our account to Him, and receive His sentence, in a future state.

    I used many more words in telling the people this; and they sat, at first, in breathless silence, listening to me with all their eyes and ears.  A few reckless spirits, by degrees, began to whisper to each other, and then to laugh and sneer; and one got up and declared I was insane.  A storm followed,—some defending me, and insisting that I should be heard; and others insisting on speaking themselves, and denouncing me as a "renegade," a "turncoat," an "apostate," a "traitor," and I know not what.  But as I happened to have fought and won more battles than any or all of these tiny combatants put together, I stood till I won perfect silence and order once more; and then I told them, as some of them deemed me insane, we would try that issue.  I then gave them one month for preparation, and challenged them to meet me in that hall on the 10th and 17th of February—with all the sceptics they could muster in the metropolis—to discuss, first, the Argument for the Being of God; secondly, the Argument for a Future State.

    The time came, and they had got Robert Cooper, the Atheist, and a band of eager sceptics to do battle with me.  Amidst the dense crowd and the almost frantic excitement of some, I maintained my ground.  And when it was demanded that I should maintain my challenge also for two Sunday evenings at the John Street Institution, I assured them I was very willing so to do.  So on the 2nd and 9th of March the combat came off again, with Mr. Robert Cooper as chief champion on the Atheist side.  He challenged me, in conclusion, to a separate discussion with himself.  I intimated that I had no confidence in his ability, and declined to meet him.  So he announced that he should expose my errors in two or three lectures at John Street.  He published these "exposures;" and it will be a sufficient proof of his super-eminent ignorance to record that they contain this idiotic declaration: "Mr. Cooper says that Man has a Moral Nature, and that proves the existence of God as the Moral Governor; and I say that Man has also an Immoral Nature, and that proves the existence of God as an Immoral Governor!"

    They had no wish to hear any more from me at John Street; and Mr. Bendall, who rented the Hall of Science, City Road, wished to close the place entirely, until the next autumn, for thorough repair and re-decoration.  So I had an enforced silence of six months before me, unless I chose to travel, as I had been wont to do, in the finer part of the year.

    But I could not travel.  I felt it was the silence that I wanted.  Yet how to get bread was the question.  Before I went out of London with Mr. Wyld's model, I had asked the publishers of my "Family Feud" and "Alderman Ralph" if they would advance me a little money while I set on to write my purposed "Wharfedale Beauty."  But they declared they never did anything of the kind.  So if I had tried to go on with the novels, I had no prospect of help.  But neither could I have written the novel if I had tried.  My mind and heart were too ill at ease.


I AM often, I must confess, extremely mortified by some descriptions of myself given by religious friends.  They tell the people, in words spoken, or in print, that I am the "Converted Infidel Lecturer;" that, "after having once done all in my power to oppose and overthrow the faith of Christ, I am now," etc. etc.  Now I have no taste for being exhibited as a recovered reprobate.  It affords me no pleasure, but much sorrow, to remember my scepticism; and there is really a deal of untruth in these announcements.  I was never an "Infidel Lecturer," in the common sense of the term.  The eight lectures on the "Leben Jesu" of Strauss, delivered at the John Street Institution, and repeated at the Hall of Science, City road, formed the only deliberate and systematic attack I ever made on orthodox Christianity.  And even in those lectures I again and again insisted on the perfect and worshipful moral beauty of Christ.

    My unbelief, even when I was most completely fascinated with the "Mythical Theory" of Strauss, never made me happy; and so I felt no peculiar pleasure in spreading it.  And I never went about the country as an "Infidel Lecturer."  With the one exception of Newcastle-on-Tyne, there was not a place out of London where I openly broached sceptical opinions.  My subjects were the Poets, History, Politics, and Morals.  I saw no good, nor should have felt "at home," in peregrinating the country as an "Infidel Lecturer."

    I do not make this statement with the wish to back out of really truthful charges that may be brought against me for past errors.  I think I have displayed sufficient moral courage in life to warrant me in saying that I have never shrunk from uttering my conscientious convictions, nor from paying the penalty for uttering them.  But I see no reason why a man should suffer real aspersions to be made upon his character, and be silent, when his silence can do no good.  God knows, I have sins enough to answer for; but I do not feel covetous of suffering for sins I have not committed.

    I have strong reason for believing that charges of "atheism" were made against me by some parties in mistake.  It was Robert Cooper these parties had heard, and not my humble self.  His teaching was avowedly atheistic and materialistic, and unchangeably so.  I was guilty, at times, of enunciating sceptical thoughts, incidentally, while lecturing on historical themes at John Street and in the Hall of Science, City Road.  But often I did not utter any such thoughts during a whole lecture; and, I repeat, the lectures on Strauss (which were delivered at John Street and repeated at the Hall of Science, and—with the exception of the eighth lecture, which was on the character of Christ—were printed in Cooper's Journal) formed the only studied and determined attack I ever made on orthodox Christianity.

    I often wrote out from memory a sketch of part or parts of the miscellaneous lectures I delivered in London, and gave them to my friend George Jacob Holyoake, as helps to increase the sale of the Reasoner.  I call him my friend, for he is my friend still.  I never break friendship with sincerity, uprightness, and real nobleness; and these qualities are personified in my friend.  If I were to do so in order to please even the religious friends that I love most deeply, I should feel myself to be a contemptible sneak.  I gave the sketches I have mentioned to my friend, and he inserted them in the well-known periodical with which he was so long identified.  The following passage from one of these sketches has often been quoted against me in a malicious way—although, in one of the lectures I have been in the habit of delivering for these last dozen years and more, I have shown that I was mistaken in both my facts and inferences as to the amount of pain and suffering endured by the animals:—

"The Universe is so beautiful, says the philosophic thinker: it is, in a large degree, so wondrously adapted for happiness, and its main provisions show so triumphantly that the Designer, if there be one, could have filled it with happy beings only,—that the very fact of there being adaptations in it for pain and misery makes me doubt that it had any Designer at all.  Wisdom raises admiration, until the fruition of its supposed contrivances is perceived to be, in great part, pain and destruction.  Then, it is that reason revolts, and exclaims, 'This is not worshipful, for goodness is not supremely united with it.'  We are not here to-night to solve these doubts: we only announce them, and proclaim that the priests of no religion have ever yet solved them; nor can they so long as the hawk and the eagle and the vulture remain the slaughterous sovereigns of the feathered tribes; so long as the lion remains the king of the forest, and makes the stag and antelope quake by the thunder of his roar, even when miles distant; so long as the pike pursues the gliding eel through the inland waters, and the shark is the tyrant of the ocean; so long as the spider weaves its web, and drains the blood of the captive fly.  It is a universe—with all its glories of resplendent suns and mighty systems of millions of stars—with all its grandeur of mountains and verdure of vallies—with all its luxuries of fruits, and hues and perfume of flowers—it is a universe of pain and death, of murder and devastation.  Man is in awful keeping with the scenery of the picture in which he is the chief figure: he becomes the hawk and the vulture, the lion and the wolf, to his own species." (Reasoner, No. 117.)

    I add a passage from another lecture—for I wish it to be understood what I really did say, occasionally and incidentally, in my historical and miscellaneous lectures.

"Why is the term 'First Cause' ever employed?  If no cause could produce the universe from nothing,—if the universe has ever been in this 'Cause,' or He in it,—then, to speak of the 'Eternal cause' may be consistent; but the term 'First Cause' is a misnomer, for there was no first cause.  Since matter in its organized forms has consciousness, from the worm (for it shrinks when touched) to Man, I may not take upon me to deny that the infinite universe has One All-pervading Consciousness.  I may not deny that; but I do not know it.  I may not deny it, for I behold adaptations—I use not the word 'contrivance,' because nothing in nature really resembles Man's inventions, since Man never contrives anything that can produce its like—I behold adaptations, on every side, wherever I look on nature; and I am impressed with the presence of Power and Wisdom while contemplating them, and often with the presence of Beneficence.  But, is it always thus?  Watch the beautiful spider which, just at this season, is so common in your gardens, the Epeira diadema, a beautifully marked and diademed insect, that weaves its wheel-formed webs from bough to branch with wondrous nimbleness—for it will renew its web ten times a day if you destroy its work—and with consummate art.  What manifest adaptation!  But, for what?  That web will have a fly entangled in it soon.  Hark at its cry of pain, for the diademed fly-butcher runs to drain its blood.

    "Glance from an insect to a lion, with its massive bones and powerful sinews, its formidable teeth, and prickles leaning backwards on the tongue with which it can lick off the flesh from a limb, and its gastric juice that will digest flesh and bruised bone, but not grain or grass.  Look through all nature, and see murder, pain, destruction, in the midst of life, pleasure, renewal of existence.

    "What says the priest, while we take the survey?  That he cannot explain why there is pain in the universe, except by the fable of Man's fall from primeval innocence; and that the continuance of pain is now a part of God's government, and we must bow and adore where we cannot understand.  Nay, priest, but I will not.  How can my heart worship Power, or even Wisdom, if it be not conjoined with Goodness?  I tell him, as in my humble prison-song,—

'I cannot worship what I cannot love.'

Nay, more : if even thy Deity exists, I cannot conceive that He would do otherwise than reject my worship, were I to tender it to Him without love.  He could not look for an acknowledgment from any of His intelligent creatures that the production of pain, by however wondrous a display of skill, was worshipful.  Pay Him worship for beneficence, if thou wilt, priest, and that wherever it is found; but do not expect me to offer it wherever I discern adaptations in nature for the production of pain." (Reasoner, vol. iii., page 523.)

    The erroneous thinking in these extracts will be discerned even by sceptics who are acquainted with Combe's "Constitution of Man."  There are no "adaptations in nature for the production of pain" for the sake of pain—to speak plain English.  Beneficence is traceable in all such adaptations: they are means for preserving happy life, and often for preserving life itself.  Better acquaintance with the facts of zoology convince me that there is a widely-prevailing mistake in people's minds as to the amount of pain and suffering experienced by the lower animals.  Even men of considerable reading do not come at the real truth on these subjects; but suffer their judgments to be misled by their mere sensibilities, as I did for a long time.

    "But what did you call yourself during the twelve years you were sceptical?" some may ask: "you evidently object to being classed as an atheist."  Yes: because I never dared to say "There is no God," nor could I ever reach such a conclusive thought.  Indeed, I never remained long in any one state of belief or unbelief on the subject of the Divine existence during my sceptical time.  Perhaps I was near Pantheism, sometimes; while at other times I was a Theist.  I feel now that I was indeed "without hope and without God in the world," for I had ceased to seek communion with Him, and to love Him; but I did not sink into blank atheism and glory in it, as some did who taught at John Street and the Hall of Science.  The great error was in mixing myself up with such teaching.  I ought to have known better; but, like others, I feel, the older I grow, what a blunderer I have been.  I never could learn to "take care of my reputation," like some people; and I doubt if I could learn to do so, even if I could enter on life anew.

    I have said that I never ceased to worship the moral beauty of Christ; and this was a frequent theme with me, in my sceptical time—yet, as I became more and more imbued with the spirit of Strauss, the more I strove to make it out that there was nothing above humanity in Christ's excellence.  The following extract will make my meaning more plain:

    "Do you ask me whether this elevated teaching does not prove the supernatural mission of Christ?  I answer, No.  It is but the natural revelation of the human heart drawn from its deepest fountains.  Christ needed no inspiration, in the priestly sense of that word.  If he were inspired, so was Confucius, who taught the great precept—'Do unto others as ye would they should do unto you,' 500 years before Christ.  But neither was that an inspired discovery of the Chinese sage.  The heart had uttered it, and, doubtless, thousands of tongues had proclaimed it, ages before Confucius lived.  If Christ were inspired, so was Socrates; so was Homer and Eschylus and Sophocles; so was Shakspeare and Milton; and all who have astonished and elevated the human mind by the great products of poetry.  If Christ were inspired, so was Phidias and Canova, so was Raphael and Michael Angelo, so was Handel and Mozart, so was Copernicus and Galileo and Newton, so was Bacon and Locke, so was Davy and Watt, so were all who have revealed to humankind the wonders of art and music, of philosophy and science.  Nature produces her own great children, in her own time; and she endows them for their mission, and impels them to its fulfilment, whatever may be their apparent disadvantages of circumstance.

    "Was it more wonderful that that young man of Nazareth, that despised carpenter's son, should be born with an organisation to discern moral beauty, and be girt up to proclaim love, and pity, and mercy, and goodness, even to the death—than that Shakspeare, with all his capacity for fathoming and depicting the human heart, and for universal creation, should be born in a woolstapler's shop?  Perish the false, idolatrous, and enslaving forms in which Priesteraft clothes that glorious Galilean Peasant!  Let him stand forth in his simple moral beauty; and he is more worshipful than in all his mythical and fabulous garniture!  Stripped of the tinselled rags of miracle and imaginary godship, the heart cleaves to him, loves him with intensity, as the noblest of human brothers, as the One who has shown most loftily what it is that Man may become in moral perfectibility, and how he may learn to love goodness, and triumph over the passions of hatred and revenge, until he can expire breathing out forgiveness, even for his murderers!" (Reasoner, vol. iii., page 507.)

I give another extract from one of my John Street lectures, of the same tendency:—

    "The doctrine of Equal Rights was often enunciated by Christ; but he could not show that knowledge would lead to their acquirement.  His 'Heavenly Father' had commissioned him to introduce the 'Kingdom of Heaven.'  He, the 'Son of Man' would 'come in the clouds of heaven, clothed with glory and surrounded with his holy angels, to bring it.  His glorious worship of goodness led him to wish that the 'kingdom of heaven' should be established on earth; his highly religious mind could not disrobe itself of the national belief entirely, and he personified the goodness he worshipped as the 'Jehovah,' though with widely different attributes to the ancient Jehovah; and taught that the Universal Father, as He became under Christ's teaching, would institute the Universal Brotherhood.

    "Christ taught no sciences.  How, where, when, was he to learn them? Christ inculcated no education, in any such sense of the word as we accept it.  He never recommended the cultivation of the powers of the mind, either to his disciples, or to the multitude.  How was it possible?  Education, in his country and time, consisted in a knowledge of the Mosaic law, the precepts of the Rabbis, and the foolish traditions and silly ceremonies of the Doctors.  His grand nature soared above the ridiculous teachings of the latter, it shrank from the fierceness and cruelty of the first; and it distinguished and selected what was excellent in either the Rabbinical precepts, or those of the older scriptures.

    "Christ saw the world was wrong.  He thought to right it at once—believing his own glorious enthusiasm.  But the experience of eighteen hundred years has proved to us that his goodness was more truthful than his enthusiasm. Dethrone Christ?  Dost thou say, priest, that I am seeking to dethrone him?  I tell thee, my worship of him is as ardent as thine.  I tell thee that thou hast crucified him afresh—thou and thy dark tribe—these seventeen hundred years; but that science will prepare his throne; that his 'kingdom of heaven' was no dream, save in the mode of its realisation; but that universal knowledge will bring it.  Not as Millenarian fanatics tell: not as orthodox teachers prophesy.  I speak of no 'coming in the flesh,' or 'coming in the clouds, but of the universal recognition of the great law of goodness and brotherhood—of the reverence and love of the name of that lowly young man of Nazareth as the highest of moral teachers—and, above all, as the grandest example of the triumph of our moral nature, the common nature of man." (Reasoner, vol. iii., pp. 547—549.)

    While thus intent on convincing myself and others that there was nothing above humanity in the moral perfection of Christ, and that science and mental progress would eventually bring in the reign of such moral perfection, I did not perfectly succeed in convincing myself.  Every fresh glance at the pure spirituality of the New Testament teaching threw me back; and so I had to fence with these difficulties again and again, by endeavouring to show that the Pauline teaching was super-induced on Christ's teaching, and was impracticable.  How hardly I battled to establish this point will be seen in the following extract from another John Street Lecture—though I believe the thoughts were first uttered in my friend Fox's pulpit, during the time he was absent from London securing his election for Oldham:—

    "How the simple teaching of Jesus of Nazareth—this yearning of a large and grand and beautiful nature—became mixed up, almost at the onset, with superstitious imaginings—the natural consequence of its reception amidst ignorance, old creeds, oriental tendencies—I need not repeat. The creed was most simple, and but very few outward observances were inculcated in the outset. The first Christians were chiefly remarkable for their refusal to be soldiers, for their contempt of wealth and show, and for the firmness with which they underwent martyrdom for their faith, whereby the admiration of the polytheists was deeply excited, and, not seldom, their conversion was secured, The idea which Pliny himself, in the letter to Trajan, gives us of Christianity at the end of the first century, is borne out by the language of the Epistles in the New Testament. Being not conformed to this world—praying without ceasing—counting the present life nothing, but the future, on which they might enter at any unlooked-for moment, everything,—that is the true Apostolic Christianity: the Christianity of the Epistles. In late times, such deeply sincere, enthusiastic, and self-sacrificing men as Wesley and Whitfield, Brainerd and Swartz and Eliot, Fletcher and Bramwell, have been exemplars of this Apostolic Christianity.

    "This religion of Paul, however, is more ascetic and mortifying, and less rational, than the religion inculcated by Jesus himself, so far as my humble investigation of the subject enables me to form a conclusion.  Christ frequently rebukes the narrow spirit of asceticism; and the ever-fertile burthen of his teaching is goodness and mercy, love and brotherhood.  Yet his own views of a 'kingdom of heaven,' here, argue great unacquaintance with the laws of nature.  Had Jesus understood those laws, he would not have looked for the immediate institution of that 'kingdom of heaven' upon earth (for such were his views in the beginning of his ministry) nor, had Paul and the Apostles understood those laws, would they have inculcated the ascetic precepts which abound in the Epistles.

    "Where would civilisation have been, if all had become Christians after the model of these precepts?  Where painting, music, poetry, statuary, architecture?  Where the invention of arts, where the discoveries of science and adventure?  Where commerce, manufactures, machinery, and the convenience of food and clothing?  What, if Shakspeare had 'prayed without ceasing,' should we have had his Macbeth and Lear and Othello?  What, if Michael Angelo and Wren had thought of nothing but of being 'not conformed to this world,' and of being 'transformed by the renewing of their minds,' would the magnificent domes of St. Peter's and St. Paul's ever have attracted the wonder-stricken gaze of men, in Rome or London?

'Nothing is worth a thought beneath,
 But how I may escape the death
     That never, never dies.'

is a modern embodiment of Apostolic religious thought.  Where would have been the discoveries of Cook, or the inventions of Watt and Arkwright, if they had been ascetics after this model?  To what a state the world would have been reduced by an entire devotion to such a religion, may be seen in the examples of Simeon Stylites and many of the early Christian eremites, while the melancholy diaries of.  Halyburton, and other modern pietists, confirm the truth that ascetic religion would cover the world with a funeral pall, and shut up the human mind in the gloom of the sepulchre." (Reasoner, vol. v., pp. 262-3:)

    Thus I thought and spoke and wrote; but not all the thinking and speaking and writing could destroy the latent wish that rapt communion with God were again mine.   I might call it "asceticism," and give it other hard names; but the remembrance of it would return, in spite of all the corruption of the heart and the wandering of the mind to which I had yielded.

    I have again mentioned the name of my friend W. J. Fox, and will now say my last words about him.  He was as kind and tender to me as a father; and I loved him.  I saw but little of him in his closing years, being so much out of London after 1857.  He died in June, 1864, while I was lecturing in Staffordshire.  I should have left my work to attend his funeral, if I had been able to do so; but I was not.  The difference in our religious views had become very great; but I should have paid the tribute of heartfelt regard to his memory, had it been in my power.


IMMEDIATELY after I had obeyed conscience, and told the people I had been in the habit of teaching that I had been wrong, I determined to open my mind fully to my large-hearted friend Charles Kingsley.  He showed the fervent sympathy of a brother.  We began a correspondence which extended over many months: in fact, over more than a year.  I told him every doubt and described every hope I had; and he counselled, instructed, and strengthened me to the end.

    But, as I said before, bread was to be earned, and where was it to come from?  I had many friends ready to help, and they did help nobly; but a man cannot live honourably in idleness, and I asked on all sides for some employment.  So my friend the Rev. F. D. Maurice, and three barrister friends, Mr. Hughes, Mr. Ludlow, and Mr. Furnivall, after conferring with my now Right Honourable friend W. E. Forster, besought Mr. W. F. Cowper, M.P., President of the Board of Health, to find me some employment under that Governmental Department.

    Mr. Cowper (now Lord Mount-Temple) named a time for me to wait on him, and I went.  He said he wished much that he could offer me anything better but the only thing he could offer me was that I became a copyist of letters, etc., at a low remuneration: he thought it was seventy words for a penny.  I told him I would take the employ, if it were seventy words for a halfpenny.  So I went down into the cellar of the Board of Health—for that is the truest name for the room; and there I was almost a daily worker, every week for ninety-seven weeks—not finally quitting my post till the end of May, 1858.

    This humble post brought me the hearty and valuable friendship of another man of genius,—Mr. Tom Taylor, who was Secretary of the Board—which is now become the "Local Government Board."  It brought me, too, the kind and friendly attention of the Under Secretary, Mr. Campbell, cousin of the Duke of Argyll, and son of Campbell of Islay.

    I am glad, too, that I served in that cellar of the Board of Health, because I had there to copy out the letters of several hundred eminent medical men, and otherwise humbly assist Mr. Simon, the highly intelligent Physician to the Privy Council, in the completion of his masterly "Report on Vaccination."  The letters were from the most eminent foreign as well as British physicians and surgeons.  The reading of them, as well as of all other papers I could reach on the subject, left in my mind a most ineffaceable conviction that Jenner's discovery was a real blessing to mankind; and that the scourge by which I suffered so much when a child, and by which hundreds are now suffering, might be swept out of existence, if all children were duly and efficiently vaccinated.

    My enforced silence of six months, and all its inner experiences, found me a still more completely changed man when September came, and I applied to Mr. Bendall to know if he would let me recommence my Sunday evening lectures at the Hall of Science, and teach what I pleased.  He granted me leave to occupy his room as I chose.  So I re-commenced, and simply taught Theism—for I had not advanced farther yet in positive conviction.

    I confess I am very incredulous respecting sudden conversions from the habitual scepticism of years.  I had been twelve years a sceptic; and it was not until fully two years had been devoted to hard reading and thinking that I could conscientiously and truly say, "I am again a Christian"—even nominally.  The deep conviction which first arose within me, that I had been very guilty, as a public teacher, in not courageously and faithfully presenting the great truth of God's existence as the Moral Governor before men, gradually merged into the deeper and more distressful conviction of my own personal life of sin: the remembrance that I—I myself—had been living without God, and without teaching men the worship of the God that I had loved in my early manhood, and Who had then given me to feel His love, day by day, and hour by hour.

    My conviction of personal sin deepened to such a degree, in the hours of reflection during the silent six months, that I dared not pray; and my wife said I never smiled for those six months.  I told my dear friend Dr. Jobson, who was ever trying to strengthen and help me, that I believed God would shut me up in judicial darkness; that He would never suffer me to live in the "light of His countenance" again, as a penalty for my great sin in deserting Him because I thought men ill-used me.

    "No, no!" said my dear friend; "I don't believe it.  God will bring you to the light yet, and fill your soul with it!"

    I told my friend Charles Kingsley, in our correspondence [Ed.—some of Kingsley's replies to Cooper, but not necessarily relating to the correspondence Cooper refers to here, are listed], that while I diligently read "Bridgewater Treatises," and all the other books with which he furnished me, as a means of beginning to teach sceptics the truth from the very foundation, that the foundations themselves seemed to glide from under my feet; I had to struggle against my own new and tormenting doubts about God's existence, and feared I should be at last overwhelmed with darkness and confusion of mind.

    "No, no!" said my faithful and intelligent friend, you will get out of all doubt in time.  When you feel you are in the deepest and gloomiest doubt, pray the prayer of desperation; cry out,—'Lord, if Thou dost exist, let me know that Thou dost exist!  Guide my mind, by a way that I know not, into Thy truth!' and God will deliver you."

    But I dared not pray, as I said before.  This bondage of dumbness of spirit was suddenly broken, one morning, as I awoke, by the words running through my mind that had been familiar to me when I was a Bluecoat boy, and stood in the aisle of Gainsborough church,—"Almighty and most merciful Father, I have erred and strayed from Thy ways like a lost sheep; I have followed too much the devices and desires of my own heart; I have offended against Thy holy laws,"—and it went on to the end.

    "The words running through my mind," did I say?  Oh, was it not the Holy Spirit Himself, in ineffable condescension and love, leading my mind by a way that I knew not?  The words came again, as I awoke, morning after morning, till at last I felt I could pray in my own words.  I had no more awful gloom of mind; but I was far yet from getting back to Christ, and receiving Him as my Saviour.

    I have said that, at the end of my six months' silence, I began to teach Theism to sceptics in the Hall of Science.  My subjects were,—"The Design Argument substantiated from the Sciences," and I occupied an hour each Sunday night, for many weeks, with this theme, illustrating it from Natural History, (Man—the Mammalia,—the Birds,—the Fishes, etc.,) from Chemistry, Geology, Light, etc.  After my hour's lecture, the discussion began; each speaker being allowed ten minutes, and I ten minutes in reply, if necessary.  The absurd wrangling and ignorance of some disputants were very wearisome, and the fierceness and intolerance of others were still more distressing.  I sometimes went home at eleven o'clock at night from these discussions, so completely worn down and enfevered that I thought I would give up my task.  But I no sooner got on my knees than I felt I dared not.  I was bound to go on, and atone for my errors, if it were possible; and I should be a guilty coward to desert that championship for the truth I had taken upon myself from a sense of bounden duty.

    I advanced to treat the Moral Government of God more exhaustively, my subjects being "Man's Moral Nature," "Pain, Prey, and Physical Suffering," "Moral Evil," "The Soul and Future State," "Materialism and the Spiritual Nature of Man," "Evidence and Responsibility"—and, at last, I ventured on "Prayer a Duty."  In the very next lecture I announced a series of discourses on the "Evidences of Christianity."  I felt much hesitation in doing this.  My mind was not fully clear—my reason and understanding were not fully settled on the order of the "Evidences;" but my heart wanted Christ, and I felt, if I did my work imperfectly, still I was bound to do it.

    For months I placed the Christian Evidences [Ed.—see Cooper's later The Bridge of History over the Gulf of Time] before my audiences in every possible form—I mean the external evidence from history, miracles, etc.,—and then I advanced to doctrines, the Atonement, Faith, Repentance, etc.  The opposition became most bitter when I had advanced so far; and it seemed that a considerable number of sceptics entered into a new scheme: they made every effort to dissuade people from coming to hear me, so that I often lectured to a comparative few.  But I persevered, and defeated their scheme.  At their demand I also took up Paine's "Age of Reason," and in five lectures showed them its errors, while they as stoutly defended it.  Next I took up Robert Taylor's "Diegesis," and dealt with it in like manner.

    At the beginning of September, 1857, I formed another newspaper engagement.  It was to furnish a series of articles—similar to those I had written for Douglas Jerrold's newspaper on the "Condition of the People"—to a weekly paper called The People, the property of a well-known Christian philanthropist, John Henderson, Esq., of Park.  My engagement lasted only nine months; and the paper itself did not continue long, though it was said Mr. Henderson spent several thousands in trying to establish it.

    With the beginning of 1858, I began to receive very urgent requests from old friends, in the country, that I would come out of London and talk to them on my new subjects.  So I went and lectured at Sheffield, and York, and Norwich; and soon found I should be compelled to go to other places—nay, the duty of giving up my entire life and time to the work of lecturing on the "Evidences," and in every part of the kingdom, began to dawn upon me.  This conviction was deepened into a resolution by an act of most gracious Providence that I must describe.

    I had engaged to deliver six lectures on the Evidences, in St. George's Hall, Bradford Yorkshire; and was to be the guest, for the week, of my beloved friend Dr. Jobson, who was then stationed at Bradford, but had come over to London on a preaching visit.  On Saturday, the 8th of May, my friend called on me and said,—

    "I have to be at Brixton to-morrow; and I fear I shall be in danger of being late on Monday morning.  So be sure to get to the Euston Square Station in good time yourself, and take your place in a carriage, and beckon me as I come up, that we may travel together."

    So on Monday morning, the 10th May, 1858,—a day I trust I shall remember, and shall thank God for His especial mercy as long as I live and the 10th of May returns,—I got early to the Euston Square Station and took my ticket.  I opened a door in the second carriage behind the engine and tender; and was about to step into it, when a porter, who was an utter stranger to me, took hold of my portmanteau, and said,

    "Don't go in there, sir! go a little lower down."

    I yielded to the man, but felt a little surprised at his motion.  I had just put my portmanteau under the seat of the carriage, lower down, and was looking out for my friend Dr. Jobson, when I saw him about to get into the very carriage I had left.  I shouted to him and beckoned him, and he came and got into the same carriage with me, but expressed his surprise when I told him how the porter had particularly led me to enter it.

    It was a first-class carriage, and soon four persons, whom we easily discovered to be barristers going to the Liverpool Assizes, joined us in it.  But before we started, a barrister (who was killed between two and three hours after) came and called one of our companions out—as it proved afterwards, to have his leg broken.  It was a short express train, and we went on rapidly but steadily till we came within about a mile of Nuneaton.  There was now a bend in the line, and a bridge over the bend, so that neither engine-driver or guard could see any danger till they passed from under the bridge.

    A cow had had her calf taken from her, and, becoming unruly, got upon the line and was driven off several times.  But now she could not be driven off.  A man, who had been trying to drive her off, stood in a field close to the railway line and waved a red flag.  The guard put on the drag, which was afterwards said to be an error, for that the express train unchecked would have crushed the cow to death and passed on without the human passengers suffering any harm.  And the cow was crushed to death; but the shock and check put upon our motion broke the coupling chain whereby the carriages were fastened to the engine and tender.  The engine and tender went on—but the carriages rebounded back; and first one went off the line and rolled over the ten feet of descent, then a second, a third, and a fourth.  Next, the coupling chain of ours, the fifth carriage, was broken, and the whole carriage of three compartments was removed from one line of rails to the other, as if supernatural beings had lifted it up, and placed it down again!

    Both the lines of rails were so much broken that for some hours the trains that came up, either way, had to disgorge their passengers, reload, and return the way they came.  Very soon there were hundreds of persons on the spot; they seemed to come across the country almost flying, in gigs, on horseback, and on foot.

    The glass was broken in our carriage, but not a hair of the head of any person in it was injured.  In the other carriages there was not a passenger without injury of some kind, and three were killed.  The whole action had been so sudden, and seemed so stupefying, that I did not feel all the awful sense of deliverance I ought to have felt, till I observed a circle of persons gathered in a field, and was told the dead were in their midst.  I went to gaze, and as I saw the three figures in their clothes and boots, lying side by side, with a cloth covering their faces, I said to myself,—

    "I and my friend might have been two of these three; but Thou, Lord God, hast preserved us!  Oh, take my life which Thou hast graciously kept, and let it be devoted to Thee.  I have again entered Thy service; let me never more leave it, but live only to spread Thy truth!"

    It was, indeed, a vow to consecrate my future life to God's service and God's work; to have no more fervours or passions diverting me from it; but to perform His work only.  I have kept my vow feebly; but, thank God, I have kept it!  I told my dear friend, before I left Bradford, that I should leave my employ at the Board of Health, should return to the pulpit and preach every Sunday, and should peregrinate the whole land to lecture on the Evidences of Natural and Revealed Religion.

    At the end of May, resigning my situation at the Board of Health, and bidding farewell to the Hall of Science, I left London, my dear wife remaining behind.  I did not return home till the end of August, and then only for one week; I then went out again, and did not return till January, 1859; and immediately went out again, and did not return till November, 1859.  My dear wife felt it like widowhood to be thus deserted; but she did not begin to travel with me till January, 1861.  From that time to the present she has been often my winter companion, and has always been with me in summer.  And through deep love of the pursuit, as well as to preserve health, we have taken advantage of our wide wanderings over England, Scotland, and Wales, to gather the darling wild-flowers everywhere.  My dear wife has preserved a fine collection of flowers; and I have kept a register of our gatherings that occupies several volumes.

    I have said that I vowed to have no more fervours or passions diverting me from what I considered to be God's work.  And if our study of Botany had tended to divert me from my great life-duty I would not have pursued it.  I gave up the thought of advancing in the knowledge of languages, when I entered on my present work; and except that I make my Greek Testament, as much as possible, my daily companion, I have seldom read a page in any other language than my own since that 10th of May, 1858.  And my reading, even of English, has been very much restricted.  Of course I read every book I can get hold of that proclaims the new tendencies of scepticism—its Darwinism, and dream about "Evolution," and other dreams—for I strive to show the error of these new tendencies; but I have now little time, indeed, for general reading.

    I was much beset by solicitations to join religious societies when I began again to preach, which I did on the first Sunday in June, 1858, at Sheffield.  But I could not easily make up my mind.  I felt my old love for Methodism return; but I could not bring my mind to return to the old body of Methodists.  I might have joined the United Free Methodists, for I had many good friends among them; but I knew it would lastingly grieve my dear and faithful friend Dr. Jobson, and I could not be guilty of such ingratitude towards him as to grieve him.

    If I could conscientiously have connected myself with the Established Church, I should at once have accepted the kind and generous offer of a venerable clergyman—Dr. Hook, now Dean of Chichester, but at that time Vicar of Leeds.  I had been describing to him the real good which had been done in Sheffield by my friend Dr. Sale, the vicar, through the agency of a band of Scripture-readers—some of them Methodist local preachers—which Dr. Sale had organised.

    "Will you come and live at Leeds?" said Dr. Hook to me; "will you come and select me just such a band of Scripture-readers, and be yourself their captain?  I will make it worth your acceptance if you will fill such a post.  And I also promise you that you shall be free to go out, often, on the great errand that you believe to be your duty.  Do not say 'No,'—consider of it."

    The nobleness of the work, and the noble tray in which the offer was made, moved me much; but I felt compelled to decide against it.

    One day a few sensible questions were put to me, at a tea-table in Barnsley, by the very intelligent wife of a Baptist minister.  I could not answer them; and reflection soon made me a Baptist in conviction, and on Whit Sunday, 1859, my old and dear friend Joseph Foulkes Winks immersed me in baptism in Friar Lane Chapel, Leicester.  Dr. Price, the well-known Baptist minister of Aberdare, was present at the performance of the rite, and assisted in the celebration of the Lord's Supper in the evening.  I forthwith joined the General Baptists; not with the intent to confine myself to preaching and lecturing in the chapels of any one particular body of Evangelical Christians, or of being directed by any, as to how, and when, and where I should do my work of duty; but to make the full, outward sign which I think every true Christian man is bound to make, that he belongs to Christ's Church.

    One esteemed Christian friend thought a committee had better be formed to direct my motions, and secure me support, when I commenced my present itinerant work in 1858; but I begged of him to give up the thought.  I felt it was far better for me to have nothing to do with committees, but to go forth with God only as my director, and with the belief that I was simply performing the duty to which.  He had summoned me. I could not doubt that He would provide for me.


FROM June, 1858, to the month of November, 1866, I kept on, without stoppage, at my new work, preaching usually thrice on Sundays, and lecturing on the Evidences of Natural and Revealed Religion, usually every night of the week.  In addition to the lectures I delivered in 1858 at Sheffield, Norwich, York, Bradford, Leeds, Sunderland, North and South Shields, Newcastle-on-Tyne, Hexham, Stockton-on-Tees, the Hartlepools, Nottingham, the Staffordshire Potteries, Barnsley, Halifax, Keighley, Darlington, Leicester, Bilston, Cardiff, Devonport, and Exeter, I entered Cornwall for the first time, and preached and lectured at Falmouth, Penryn, Penzance, Redruth, and Truro.

    During the year 1858, I also held public discussions with George Jacob Holyoake: four nights at Norwich, five nights at York, and one at Nottingham.  My friend was gentle and temperate, conscientious and straightforward.  I could not convince him, and he could not convince me; nor did the discussions disturb our friendship and mutual regard.  I had discussions in after-years with big and little champions of Atheism; but their proceedings seemed to me crooked and unprincipled, and I shall therefore pass them by without recording even their names.  My clear conviction is, that public discussions on the Evidences of Christianity never do any good, but often do great harm.  The sceptical champion, and his friends too, generally come up to the encounter to win, by fair means or foul: they are in too great a heat to hear the truth; it cannot get any fair entrance into their minds.  On the other hand, young fresh minds, unused to these inquiries, are often caught by the new and startling words they hear, and become doubters; perhaps, eventually, confirmed unbelievers.

    For the first few years, I was also in the habit, at the end of almost every lecture, of inviting sceptical hearers, if any were present, to ask questions, or make observations in the way of objection, if they had any.  But I gave up this habit, as well as the practice of public discussion; for I found that the persons who rose to ask questions were often so much disposed to turn the meeting into a scene of disturbance and bad feeling, that they destroyed the good I had been endeavouring to effect.

    One week of excitement, at the end of January, 1859, often comes to my memory.  I spent it at Northampton, where I had lectured in the old Chartist times; and where the swarms of shoemakers were known to be sceptical, and were eager for the fray.  I preached there on the Sunday, and they came in crowds far too great for the chapel to hold them.  I lectured on the six nights following, and they rose up and disputed; but, with very slight exceptions, they manifested so much good-humour and regard for their old democratic champion, that I felt something like regret because I could not stay longer among them.  In this year, 1859, I revisited Manchester, Birmingham, and Coventry; was largely employed in Yorkshire, Lancashire, and Staffordshire; and lectured and preached in various town of Essex, Norfolk, Huntingdon, Cambridge, Lincoln, Derby, Cheshire, Durham, and Northumberland.

    I ventured into Scotland in 1860, as a preacher and lecturer on the "Evidences;" and was so well received by ministers and people at Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, Paisley, Stirling, and many smaller towns, that I very heartily promised to renew my visit.  In this year, 1860, I revisited Bristol, Cheltenham, Leamington, Worcester, Chatham, Sheerness, Macclesfield, and Carlisle,—preached and lectured for the first time at Kendal,—was extensively employed again in Lancashire, Yorkshire, and Devonshire,—and performed my work of duty in numerous towns of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, and Norfolk.

    In the earlier part of the year 1861, I revisited Northampton and Bristol, and had a week of lecturing in Liverpool, and afterwards revisited towns, and performed my work in towns I had not before visited, in the counties of Warwick, Worcester, Bedford, Stafford, Derby, Leicester, Nottingham, Lancaster, York, Durham, and Northumberland.  In the middle of August, 1861, I again entered Scotland, and remained in it till the 7th of January, 1863—a period of one year and nearly five months.  During this period, I preached and lectured in nearly every town in Scotland which has a population of over two or three thousand.  I was twice through the whole length of the country, from the Border to Inverness; and revisited some of the principal towns several times over.  Almost everywhere, ministers of every denomination received me with welcome, and many with great kindness, while the people came readily to hear, and listened with eagerness.  The hearty welcome I received rendered me willing to prolong my stay among the grandeur of its mountains, the music of its rivers, and the association of its great names; and I am glad that the time is near when, if spared by the providence of God, I am to return to dear auld Scotland.

    Re-entering dear old England in January, 1863, I lectured during that year at Lancaster, Preston, Manchester, arid Shrewsbury; revisited some towns in Worcestershire and Staffordshire; and was afterwards busily employed in Durham, Northumberland, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Bedfordshire, and Hertfordshire.  The months of November and December, 1863, together with January and parts of February and March, 1864, I devoted to preaching and lecturing in London.

    In the year 1864, I lectured and preached in several parts of Kent, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Warwickshire, Leicestershire, and Staffordshire, and again devoted a week to the important town of Birmingham.  July and half of August were devoted to the principal towns of South Wales.  I saw beautiful Tintern on leaving the principality, and after lecturing at Gloucester and ancient Tewkesbury, made my way across the kingdom, and spent September in Essex and Suffolk. The months of October, November, and December, 1864, I devoted entirely to London, with the exception of one week, which I spent most delightfully in preaching, lecturing, and seeing the sights in classic Oxford.

    The months of January, February, and March, 1865, were devoted almost entirely to London; and during these months I delivered a series of eight Lectures on the Evidences of Christianity to the students of Mr. Spurgeon's College.  I never enjoyed my work more in my life; and I believe the enjoyment of the students was as great as my own.  I wish I could more often be employed in a similar way.  Telling the "Evidences" to a crowd of young men who will have to preach Christ to thousands, seems like doing several years' work in an hour.  Quitting London in April, I went on to Brighton, and preached and lectured in the chapel of my beloved friend Paxton Hood.  The remainder of this year was spent, very delightfully, in itinerating through all the beautiful south of England, and in preaching and lecturing in nearly all the towns of any importance in Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Dorsetshire, Devonshire, and Cornwall.

    I commenced the year 1866 in the charming region of Devonshire; and afterwards preached and lectured in Salisbury and many of the Wiltshire towns; revisited Portsmouth, Southampton, and the Isle of Wight, and had a week's work in ancient Winchester; spent many weeks in making a thorough working tour through the pleasant county of Somerset, seeing ancient Glastonbury, Wells, and the Cheddar rocks; went over to the Channel Islands, and had eighteen days' preaching and lecturing in Jersey and Guernsey; spent one week at Bath, another at Windsor, and ten days at Woolwich, and then went on into Kent, with the intent to finish my year's work in that county—though I had had symptoms of illness, now and then, for several weeks.

    At last, I broke down seriously.  And, perhaps, none will wonder that I broke down so soon, but rather that I did not break down sooner, when it is considered that, within these eight years and a half, I had preached 1,169 times and lectured 2,204 times—in other words, I had delivered 3,373 discourses; had visited every county of England, and many counties of Scotland and Wales, and also the Channel Islands, for the fulfilment of what I felt to be my work of duty; had preached or lectured in every considerable town in Great Britain, and in some of them many times; had travelled unreckonable hundreds—I may say, thousands—of miles; and had kept up a voluminous correspondence with an ever increasing number of friends and acquaintances.

    In November, 1866, my dear wife, who travelled with me constantly for nearly six years, feeling that she could no longer sustain exposure to the weather in winter, left me to take refuge with her sister in Sheffield—for we had entirely broken up our home in 1861, and have never had one since.  So when I fell seriously ill at Ramsgate, at the end of the month just mentioned, I was alone.  Nor could I remove till Christmas, when I crept on to the house of an old favourite scholar at Croydon; but could not join my wife at Sheffield till February, 1867.

    I made several attempts to preach, but it was only to expose myself to renewed suffering; and it was seven months from the time of my falling ill at Ramsgate before I could get back to my work again.  The brain would not let me sleep, and the heart threatened to stop; and frequently, for hours together, I expected life would cease the next moment.  Providentially, I had the kind and gratuitous help of an excellent physician, Mr. Walford of Ramsgate, when I had the first seizure, or I might never have recovered at all.  The nervous horrors of my nights were more torturous than any mere bodily pain I ever knew in my life.  The ever-recurring thought was, "I shall go mad—I must go mad sooner or later—for I can get no sleep!"  How glad I was always to see the light of the morning, and how often I dreaded the act of lying down in bed at night!

    The frightful nervous horrors of those months have served to warn me against all attempts to work at more than human speed.  I have never dared to preach more than twice on Sundays,—and have limited myself to three or four lectures in each week, since my recovery.  And now I am on the way to sixty-seven years of age, I must never think of trying to return to the old passionate speed of working.  But I hope to keep in harness to the end; and never give up my Work of Duty, save with my life.

    Let me most gratefully record the fact, that, all unexpectedly to myself, my friends made my illness the occasion for raising me help for life, in the shape of a little annuity.  My Right Hon. friend first suggested the proposition; my beloved friend Dr. Jobson assented to it; and he and Mr. James Harvey of London,—so well known, among Baptists, for his ready and munificent help in every scheme for good,—forthwith met Samuel Morley, M.P., a name identified with Christian philanthropy, and laid their purpose before him, when he at once put down his influential name for £100.  My Right Hon. friend, and my old friend Charles Seely, M.P., with Mr, James Harvey, followed, each with £50, and my dear friend, Dr. Jobson, with £20, and then the proposition was placed before the public.  Among the principal contributors were Mr. Bass, M.P, for Derby, Mr. Colman, now M.P. for Norwich, Mr. Mitchell, Provost of Montrose, my kind and good friends, Mr. Crosby of Stockton-on-Tees, and Mr. Abram Bass of Burton-on-Trent; and, above all, let me not forget my illustrious friend Thomas Carlyle, who sent his £10.

    Mr. Harvey, with a kindness I know not how to describe, took upon himself all the drudgery of receiving subscriptions; and, eventually, £1,300 was raised, and an annuity of £100 was purchased at the National Debt Office, for myself and my dear wife, and for the survivor, whichever it may be.  Of course, they deduct Income Tax half-yearly, when I receive my payment; but, even with that deduction, which an old Radical does not relish very sweetly, I feel grateful for what kind and numerous friends have thus secured for me for the term of my own life, and also for my dear wife, should she be the survivor.


I RECOMMENCED my work with June, 1867, and have continued to perform it,—although in May, 1868, I was reported to be dead—dead and buried!—and columns of somewhat spurious biography were published in the Midland newspapers.  The death, at Manchester, of Robert Cooper, the Atheist lecturer, gave rise to this imagination, no doubt.  During the year 1867, I lectured and preached in various towns of Bucks, Beds, and Berks; Hants, Surrey, Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, and Nottinghamshire.  The pleasantest visit of the year was to delightful Stratford-on-Avon-a town in which I should certainly go to reside for life, if I were a man of fortune, and had "nothing to do."  In 1868, I performed my work again in towns where I preached and lectured in 1867, and also visited towns in Cheshire, Staffordshire, Lancashire, Oxfordshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, and Worcester: I also spoke in Newtown and Wrexham (North Wales) for the first time.

    The first four months of 1869 I devoted entirely to Lancashire—lecturing and preaching in Oldham, Heywood, Staleybridge, Rochdale, Manchester, Bolton, Liverpool, Wigan, Chorley, Lancaster, Preston, Blackburn, Clitheroe, Over Darwen, Padiham, Accrington, and Burnley.  When I passed, very hastily, through Lancashire in 1863, the "Cotton Famine" was raging.  I thought I would return now prosperity had returned, and see what improvement the people had made.  I found the towns vieing with each other in the erection of new town-halls, and in their superior style of erecting houses of business; and I also found working men had bettered their physical condition considerably.  But I confess, with pain, that I saw they had gone back, intellectually and morally.

    After revisiting several Yorkshire towns, I made my way, in July, to the north-western sea-coast corner of England, and preached and lectured, for the first time, in Whitehaven, Workington, Maryport, and Ulverstone.  I spent a few rapturous days at sweet Keswick and in the neighbourhood, and then went on to work again at Kendal; and took my way into other parts of Lancashire—determined to re-examine my painful problem.  So I preached and lectured at Blackpool, Haslingden, Ramsbottom, Bacup, Bury, Farnworth, Hindley, and Warrington; and, passing into Cheshire, talked at Crewe, Hyde, and Stockport, and thus finished the year.

    With 1870 1 returned to my inquiry, and devoted January, February, March, and April again to Lancashire—renewing my work chiefly in the towns I had visited a year before, and entering a few new places.  My sorrowful impressions were confirmed.  In our old Chartist time, it is true, Lancashire working men were in rags by thousands; and many of them often lacked food.  But their intelligence was demonstrated wherever you went.  You would see them in groups discussing the great doctrine of political justice—that every grown-up, sane man ought to have a vote in the election of the men who were to make the laws by which he was to be governed; or they were in earnest dispute respecting the teachings of Socialism.  Now, you will see no such groups in Lancashire.  But you will hear well-dressed working men talking, as they walk with their hands in their pockets, of "Co-ops" (Co-operative Stores), and their shares in them, or in building societies.  And you will see others, like idiots, leading small greyhound dogs, covered with cloth, in a string!  They are about to race, and they are betting money as they go!  And yonder comes another clamorous dozen of men, cursing and swearing and betting upon a few pigeons they are about to let fly!  As for their betting on horses—like their masters!—it is a perfect madness.

    Except in Manchester and Liverpool—where, of course, intelligence is to be found, if it be found anywhere in England,—I gathered no large audiences in Lancashire.  Working men had ceased to think, and wanted to hear no thoughtful talk; at least, it was so with the greater number of them.  To one who has striven hard, the greater part of his life, to instruct and elevate them, and who has suffered and borne imprisonment for them, all this was more painful than I care to tell.

    From Lancashire I passed into Yorkshire, revisiting some old scenes, and then into Westmoreland, and so on to the new rising port of Barrow-in-Furness, where they are shipping the hœmatite iron.  Again to Whitehaven and the sea-coast towns of Cumberland, and Carlisle; and then crossed the country, and began to lecture and preach among the Northumberland colliers.  They heard me eagerly.  I always like to talk to the poor colliers; and wish they were better cared for.  After renewing my work in Newcastle, Sunderland, and other large towns, I turned to the eastern sea-coast, and lectured and preached at Whitby, Pickering, Scarborough, Bridlington, Driffield, and Beverley, and so ended the year.

    The last year (1871) I commenced with the East Riding of Yorkshire, and then passed into the West.  With the exception of one fortnight devoted to Manchester, I worked in the West Riding to the end of April, and then passed into the North Riding.  The whole month of June I passed in romantic Westmoreland; and commenced this autobiography.  In July, after revisiting Barrow-in-Furness, I re-entered Yorkshire, and in August resumed my work in the busy counties of Durham and Northumberland, once more among the poor colliers.  In November I re-entered the West Riding, and remained in it till near the close of the year; and I am looking over the last proofs and revises from the printer of this autobiography, at Leeds, the capital of the West Riding, in the month of February, 1872.

    "And now you have chronicled your labours so fully," some reader may say, "tell us whether you have reason to think that they have been of any value to the audiences you have addressed."  I am not in the habit of publishing the results of my labour.  I have no taste for it.  God knows best, and most unerringly, what degree of good I may have effected.  I would rather tell into the ear of some good Christian man how scores have come to me, or written to me, during these last dozen years and more, and told me how they have been recovered from sceptical wandering, by hearing my lectures, and have found their way to Christ as their personal Saviour.  If I were to take upon me to pronounce in what direction I judge that I have been the most instrumental of good, I should say it has been in the checking of incipient scepticism in the minds of young men, members of religious families, and regular attendants on public worship.  I invite the hearing of such young men wherever I go; and direct my teaching most earnestly to them.  If such young men can be preserved from sceptical error, and be persuaded to become active members of Christian churches, it will be productive of great blessings to the next generation.

    I do not, however, as I have already said, labour as intensely as I did at first.  I cannot do it; and, finding my force decay, I have yielded to the desire so often expressed by hearers of my lectures, and have begun to write them down, and publish them.  If the little volume brought out for me, by the publishers of the present volume, a short time ago—entitled "The Bridge of History over the Gulf of Time," embodying in a popular form the Historical Evidence for the Truth of Christianity—be successful, I hope to have life and strength remaining to issue my other discourses on the Evidences in a printed form.

    Ten years ago, I hoped to produce a large volume instead of a small one, on the Historical Evidences: I meant to have the picture of a bridge for the frontispiece, and to fill the arches with inscriptions of contemporary names; and I purposed to have the volume stored with engravings of every kind that would illustrate the subject,—the chair of Venerable Bede, and the coffin of St. Cuthbert, and the coins of Constantine, and the arch of Titus, with the figure of the golden candlestick, etc. etc.  I imagined I might get a month, now and then, to sit in the British Museum Library, and work at such a book; but I must leave it now to be accomplished by some other humble and earnest worker whom God may raise up.  It is the very volume on the Historical Evidences that is wanted; but it could not be done in a hurry.  It should form a cyclopædia of Christian literature and history; and would take one man's whole strength—and a strong man's, too—to accomplish it worthily.

    One feat I hope to be able to accomplish, though I cannot accomplish this.  I promised myself, when my "Purgatory of Suicides" was issued twenty-six years ago, that I would write another poem, of about the same length, and in the same stanza, to be entitled "The Paradise of Martyrs."  I have written three books of it, and hope, if I have health and strength, to get it finished.

    In the present year, 1872, I have, as I said, to revisit Scotland, in which I spent the whole year 1862.  But I keep in mind that our purposes are not always accordant with the purposes of our Maker, even when they are founded on convictions of duty.  So I do not make myself sure that what I purpose will be fulfilled.  I only ask that if God should call me from earth ere these purposes are fulfilled, I may be with Him in heaven, for Christ's sake!

    I have no doubt, while I write this, that I shall be with my Saviour in heaven.  I never harbour the fear, for a moment, that I shall not be with Him.  I love Christ.  I never lost my love for His moral beauty, and never ceased to worship that, even when Straussian errors had the strongest possession of me.  But my love for Christ now springs from other grounds.  I have accepted Him as my Saviour; and through faith in Him and His atonement for sin, and in the everlasting love of the Father, I feel God has accepted me.  Living or dying, I am His; and trust to have this confidence until He shall call me home.

    My work is, indeed, a happy work.  Sunday is now a day of heaven to me.  I feel that to preach "the unsearchable riches of Christ" is the most exalted and ennobling work in which a human creature can be engaged.  And believing that I am performing the work of duty, that I am right, my employment of lecturing on the Evidences of Natural and Revealed Religion, from week to week, fills me with the consoling reflection that my life is not being spent in vain, much less spent in evil.  I often regret that scores of men, who might easily fit themselves for this work, are not employing themselves in maintaining and defending the evidences for the truth of Christianity.  I cannot help thinking that the Christian world will awake to the necessity of sending out champions for the truth, ere long.  If the next generation are to be saved from the deluge of unbelief, this championship should be entered upon.  I wish one hundred intelligent, studious, pious, and courageous young Christian men would resolve to enter upon it.  May God, in His wisdom, select the instruments, and call them to their work, for the glory of His Holy Name!

    If the summons to such work have already reached the heart and conscience of some whose eyes may light on these pages, one word in their ear.  Do not enter upon your work as a mere genteel profession.  Do not stipulate for so many guineas fee before you open your choice lips, and pour out your precious treasures of instruction.  Let others live that kind of sugar-candied life that choose it.  Doubtless they will have their reward.

    But go you forth as the servant of your Divine Master, asking nothing but alms in your poverty.  Places for the delivery of your discourses you will find, after a time, without great difficulty, if people feel you are in earnest.  Let all come in to hear you, free.  Sell no tickets, take no monies for admission, have no practices that may leave a hair-breadth's room for Christ's enemies to charge you with selfishness.  Have a collection at the end of your discourse, on the ground that you cannot live on the air, and pay expenses of lodging, and travelling, and printing, from an empty pocket.  Make this simple appeal to your countrymen, and they will not fail to respond to it, generally.

    You must not expect to "make money," and have thousands in the bank.  But you cannot starve, if you have industry, and brains, and honesty of purpose.  As to saving, unless you have children to come after you, you had better not be bothered with the thought of it.  Saving money seems to make many people miserable.  Don't be troubled with it.  You had better, if you have any money to spare, give it away to relieve the wretched; they abound on every hand.  Give yourself up to your work, and live for that only.  Go and sell all you have and follow your Master, and you shall have treasure in heaven.

POSTSCRIPT: April, 1873.—I take the opportunity afforded by the issue of the "People's Edition" of this book, to say that I did revisit Scotland last year; and was received both by preachers and people, with unspeakable kindness.  Since the present year commenced, I have been at my preaching and lecturing work in the West Riding, in the Staffordshire Potteries, and in the "Black Country."  In literature I have been so far active that, last September, my publishers issued my "Plain Pulpit Talk," a volume containing seven of the sermons that I have often preached; and while I write this Postscript, they are publishing the first half of my long-purposed poem, "The Paradise of Martyrs."

T. C.



[Home] [Up] [Thoughts at Fourscore] [Gulf of Time] [Old Fashioned Stories] [Self-help] [Prison Rhymes, etc.] [Baron's Yule Feast] [Purgatory of Suicides] [Paradise of Martyrs] [Poets of the Poor] [Reviews, etc.] [Site Search] [Main Index]