Letters From The Earth
by Mark Twain
originally written in 1909
The Creator sat upon the throne, thinking. Behind him
stretched the illimitable continent of heaven, steeped in a
glory of light and color; before him rose the black night of
Space, like a wall. His mighty bulk towered rugged and
mountain-like into the zenith, and His divine head blazed
there like a distant sun. At His feet stood three colossal
figures, diminished to extinction, almost, by contrast --
archangels -- their heads level with His ankle-bone.
When the Creator had finished thinking, He said, "I have
He lifted His hand, and from it burst a fountain-spray of fire,
a million stupendous suns, which clove the blackness and
soared, away and away and away, diminishing in magnitude
and intensity as they pierced the far frontiers of Space, until
at last they were but as diamond nailheads sparkling under
the domed vast roof of the universe.
At the end of an hour the Grand Council was dismissed.
They left the Presence impressed and thoughtful, and
retired to a private place, where they might talk with
freedom. None of the three seemed to want to begin,
though all wanted somebody to do it. Each was burning to
discuss the great event, but would prefer not to commit
himself till he should know how the others regarded it. So
there was some aimless and halting conversation about
matters of no consequence, and this dragged tediously
along, arriving nowhere, until at last the archangel Satan
gathered his courage together -- of which he had a very
good supply -- and broke ground. He said: "We know what
we are here to talk about, my lords, and we may as well put
pretense aside, and begin. If this is the opinion of the
Council -- "
"It is, it is!" said Gabriel and Michael, gratefully interrupting.
"Very well, then, let us proceed. We have witnessed a
wonderful thing; as to that, we are necessarily agreed. As to
the value of it -- if it has any -- that is a matter which does
not personally concern us. We can have as many opinions
about it as we like, and that is our limit. We have no vote. I
think Space was well enough, just as it was, and useful, too.
Cold and dark -- a restful place, now and then, after a
season of the overdelicate climate and trying splendors of
heaven. But these are details of no considerable moment;
the new feature, the immense feature, is -- what,
"The invention and introduction of automatic,
unsupervised, self-regulating law for the government of
those myriads of whirling and racing suns and worlds!"
"That is it!" said Satan. "You perceive that it is a
stupendous idea. Nothing approaching it has been
evolved from the Master Intellect before. Law -- Automatic
Law -- exact and unvarying Law -- requiring no watching,
no correcting, no readjusting while the eternities endure!
"He said those countless vast bodies would plunge through
the wastes of Space ages and ages, at unimaginable
speed, around stupendous orbits, yet never collide, and
never lengthen nor shorten their orbital periods by so
much as the hundredth part of a second in two thousand
years! That is the new miracle, and the greatest of all --
Automatic Law! And He gave it a name -- the LAW OF
NATURE -- and said Natural Law is the LAW OF GOD --
interchangeable names for one and the same thing."
"Yes," said Michael, "and He said He would establish
Natural Law -- the Law of God -- throughout His dominions,
and its authority should be supreme and inviolable."
"Also," said Gabriel, "He said He would by and by create
animals, and place them, likewise, under the authority of
"Yes," said Satan, "I heard Him, but did not understand.
What is animals, Gabriel?"
"Ah, how should I know? How should any of us know? It is
a new word."
[Interval of three centuries, celestial time -- the equivalent
of a hundred million years, earthly time. Enter a
"My lords, He is making animals. Will it please you to
come and see?"
They went, they saw, and were perplexed. Deeply
perplexed -- and the Creator noticed it, and said, "Ask. I
"Divine One," said Satan, making obeisance, "what are
"They are an experiment in Morals and Conduct. Observe
them, and be instructed."
There were thousands of them. They were full of activities.
Busy, all busy -- mainly in persecuting each other. Satan
remarked -- after examining one of them through a
powerful microscope: "This large beast is killing weaker
animals, Divine One."
"The tiger -- yes. The law of his nature is ferocity. The law of
his nature is the Law of God. He cannot disobey it."
"Then in obeying it he commits no offense, Divine One?"
"No, he is blameless."
"This other creature, here, is timid, Divine One, and suffers
death without resisting."
"The rabbit -- yes. He is without courage. It is the law of his
nature -- the Law of God. He must obey it."
"Then he cannot honorably be required to go counter to his
nature and resist, Divine One?"
"No. No creature can be honorably required to go counter to
the law of his nature -- the Law of God."
After a long time and many questions, Satan said, "The
spider kills the fly, and eats it; the bird kills the spider and
eats it; the wildcat kills the goose; the -- well, they all kill
each other. It is murder all along the line. Here are
countless multitudes of creatures, and they all kill, kill, kill,
they are all murderers. And they are not to blame, Divine
"They are not to blame. It is the law of their nature. And
always the law of nature is the Law of God. Now -- observe
-- behold! A new creature -- and the masterpiece -- Man!"
Men, women, children, they came swarming in flocks, in
droves, in millions.
"What shall you do with them, Divine One?"
"Put into each individual, in differing shades and degrees,
all the various Moral Qualities, in mass, that have been
distributed, a single distinguishing characteristic at a time,
among the nonspeaking animal world -- courage, cowardice,
ferocity, gentleness, fairness, justice, cunning, treachery,
magnanimity, cruelty, malice, malignity, lust, mercy, pity,
purity, selfishness, sweetness, honor, love, hate, baseness,
nobility, loyalty, falsity, veracity, untruthfulness -- each
human being shall have all of these in him, and they will
constitute his nature. In some, there will be high and fine
characteristics which will submerge the evil ones, and those
will be called good men; in others the evil characteristics will
have dominion, and those will be called bad men. Observe -
- behold -- they vanish!"
"Whither are they gone, Divine One?"
"To the earth -- they and all their fellow animals."
"What is the earth?"
"A small globe I made, a time, two times and a half ago.
You saw it, but did not notice it in the explosion of worlds
and suns that sprayed from my hand. Man is an
experiment, the other animals are another experiment.
Time will show whether they were worth the trouble. The
exhibition is over; you may take your leave, my lords."
Several days passed by.
This stands for a long stretch of (our) time, since in
heaven a day is as a thousand years.
Satan had been making admiring remarks about certain of
the Creator's sparkling industries -- remarks which, being
read between the lines, were sarcasms. He had made
them confidentially to his safe friends the other archangels,
but they had been overheard by some ordinary angels and
reported at Headquarters.
He was ordered into banishment for a day -- the celestial
day. It was a punishment he was used to, on account of
his too flexible tongue. Formerly he had been deported
into Space, there being nowhither else to send him, and
had flapped tediously around there in the eternal night and
the Arctic chill; but now it occurred to him to push on and
hunt up the earth and see how the Human Race
experiment was coming along.
By and by he wrote home -- very privately -- to St. Michael
and St. Gabriel about it.
This is a strange place, and extraordinary place, and
interesting. There is nothing resembling it at home. The
people are all insane, the other animals are all insane, the
earth is insane, Nature itself is insane. Man is a marvelous
curiosity. When he is at his very very best he is a sort of
low grade nickel-plated angel; at is worst he is
unspeakable, unimaginable; and first and last and all the
time he is a sarcasm. Yet he blandly and in all sincerity
calls himself the "noblest work of God." This is the truth I
am telling you. And this is not a new idea with him, he has
talked it through all the ages, and believed it. Believed it,
and found nobody among all his race to laugh at it.
Moreover -- if I may put another strain upon you -- he
thinks he is the Creator's pet. He believes the Creator is
proud of him; he even believes the Creator loves him; has
a passion for him; sits up nights to admire him; yes, and
watch over him and keep him out of trouble. He prays to
Him, and thinks He listens. Isn't it a quaint idea? Fills his
prayers with crude and bald and florid flatteries of Him, and
thinks He sits and purrs over these extravagancies and
enjoys them. He prays for help, and favor, and protection,
every day; and does it with hopefulness and confidence, too,
although no prayer of his has ever been answered. The
daily affront, the daily defeat, do not discourage him, he
goes on praying just the same. There is something almost
fine about this perseverance. I must put one more strain
upon you: he thinks he is going to heaven!
He has salaried teachers who tell him that. They also tell
him there is a hell, of everlasting fire, and that he will go to it
if he doesn't keep the Commandments. What are
Commandments? They are a curiosity. I will tell you about
them by and by.
"I have told you nothing about man that is not true." You
must pardon me if I repeat that remark now and then in
these letters; I want you to take seriously the things I am
telling you, and I feel that if I were in your place and you in
mine, I should need that reminder from time to time, to keep
my credulity from flagging.
For there is nothing about man that is not strange to an
immortal. He looks at nothing as we look at it, his sense of
proportion is quite different from ours, and his sense of
values is so widely divergent from ours, that with all our
large intellectual powers it is not likely that even the most
gifted among us would ever be quite able to understand it.
For instance, take this sample: he has imagined a heaven,
and has left entirely out of it the supremest of all his delights,
the one ecstasy that stands first and foremost in the heart of
every individual of his race -- and of ours -- sexual
It is as if a lost and perishing person in a roasting desert
should be told by a rescuer he might choose and have all
longed-for things but one, and he should elect to leave out
His heaven is like himself: strange, interesting, astonishing,
grotesque. I give you my word, it has not a single feature in
it that he actually values. It consists -- utterly and entirely --
of diversions which he cares next to nothing about, here in
the earth, yet is quite sure he will like them in heaven. Isn't it
curious? Isn't it interesting? You must not think I am
exaggerating, for it is not so. I will give you details.
Most men do not sing, most men cannot sing, most men will
not stay when others are singing if it be continued more
than two hours. Note that.
Only about two men in a hundred can play upon a musical
instrument, and not four in a hundred have any wish to
learn how. Set that down.
Many men pray, not many of them like to do it. A few pray
long, the others make a short cut.
More men go to church than want to.
To forty-nine men in fifty the Sabbath Day is a dreary,
Of all the men in a church on a Sunday, two-thirds are
tired when the service is half over, and the rest before it is
The gladdest moment for all of them is when the preacher
uplifts his hands for the benediction. You can hear the soft
rustle of relief that sweeps the house, and you recognize
that it is eloquent with gratitude.
All nations look down upon all other nations.
All nations dislike all other nations.
All white nations despise all colored nations, of whatever
hue, and oppress them when they can.
White men will not associate with "niggers," nor marry
They will not allow them in their schools and churches.
All the world hates the Jew, and will not endure him
except when he is rich.
I ask you to note all those particulars.
Further. All sane people detest noise.
All people, sane or insane, like to have variety in their life.
Monotony quickly wearies them.
Every man, according to the mental equipment that has
fallen to his share, exercises his intellect constantly,
ceaselessly, and this exercise makes up a vast and
valued and essential part of his life. The lowest intellect,
like the highest, possesses a skill of some kind and takes
a keen pleasure in testing it, proving it, perfecting it. The
urchin who is his comrade's superior in games is as
diligent and as enthusiastic in his practice as are the
sculptor, the painter, the pianist, the mathematician and
the rest. Not one of them could be happy if his talent were
put under an interdict.
Now then, you have the facts. You know what the human
race enjoys and what it doesn't enjoy. It has invented a
heaven out of its own head, all by itself: guess what it is like!
In fifteen hundred eternities you couldn't do it. The ablest
mind known to you or me in fifty million aeons couldn't do it.
Very well, I will tell you about it.
1. First of all, I recall to your attention the extraordinary fact
with which I began. To wit, that the human being, like the
immortals, naturally places sexual intercourse far and away
above all other joys -- yet he has left it out of his heaven!
The very thought of it excites him; opportunity sets him wild;
in this state he will risk life, reputation, everything -- even his
queer heaven itself -- to make good that opportunity and
ride it to the overwhelming climax. From youth to middle
age all men and all women prize copulation above all other
pleasures combined, yet it is actually as I have said: it is not
in their heaven; prayer takes its place.
They prize it thus highly; yet, like all their so-called "boons,"
it is a poor thing. At its very best and longest the act is brief
beyond imagination -- the imagination of an immortal, I
mean. In the matter of repetition the man is limited -- oh,
quite beyond immortal conception. We who continue the act
and its supremest ecstasies unbroken and without
withdrawal for centuries, will never be able to understand or
adequately pity the awful poverty of these people in that rich
gift which, possessed as we possess it, makes all other
possessions trivial and not worth the trouble of invoicing.
2. In man's heaven everybody sings! The man who did not
sing on earth sings there; the man who could not sing on
earth is able to do it there. The universal singing is not
casual, not occasional, not relieved by intervals of quiet; it
goes on, all day long, and every day, during a stretch of
twelve hours. And everybody stays; whereas in the earth
the place would be empty in two hours. The singing is of
hymns alone. Nay, it is of one hymn alone. The words are
always the same, in number they are only about a dozen,
there is no rhyme, there is no poetry: "Hosannah, hosannah,
hosannah, Lord God of Sabaoth, 'rah! 'rah! 'rah! siss! --
boom! ... a-a-ah!"
3. Meantime, every person is playing on a harp -- those
millions and millions! -- whereas not more than twenty in the
thousand of them could play an instrument in the earth, or
ever wanted to.
Consider the deafening hurricane of sound -- millions and
millions of voices screaming at once and millions and
millions of harps gritting their teeth at the same time! I ask
you: is it hideous, is it odious, is it horrible?
Consider further: it is a praise service; a service of
compliment, of flattery, of adulation! Do you ask who it is
that is willing to endure this strange compliment, this insane
compliment; and who not only endures it, but likes it,
enjoys it, requires it, commands it? Hold your breath!
It is God! This race's god, I mean. He sits on his throne,
attended by his four and twenty elders and some other
dignitaries pertaining to his court, and looks out over his
miles and miles of tempestuous worshipers, and smiles,
and purrs, and nods his satisfaction northward, eastward,
southward; as quaint and nave a spectacle as has yet
been imagined in this universe, I take it.
It is easy to see that the inventor of the heavens did not
originate the idea, but copied it from the show-ceremonies
of some sorry little sovereign State up in the back
settlements of the Orient somewhere.
All sane white people hate noise; yet they have tranquilly
accepted this kind of heaven -- without thinking, without
reflection, without examination -- and they actually want to
go to it! Profoundly devout old gray-headed men put in a
large part of their time dreaming of the happy day when
they will lay down the cares of this life and enter into the
joys of that place. Yet you can see how unreal it is to them,
and how little it takes a grip upon them as being fact, for
they make no practical preparation for the great change:
you never see one of them with a harp, you never hear
one of them sing.
As you have seen, that singular show is a service of
praise: praise by hymn, praise by prostration. It takes the
place of "church." Now then, in the earth these people
cannot stand much church -- an hour and a quarter is the
limit, and they draw the line at once a week. That is to say,
Sunday. One day in seven; and even then they do not
look forward to it with longing. And so -- consider what
their heaven provides for them: "church" that lasts forever,
and a Sabbath that has no end! They quickly weary of this
brief hebdomadal Sabbath here, yet they long for that
eternal one; they dream of it, they talk about it, they think
they think they are going to enjoy it -- with all their simple
hearts they think they think they are going to be happy in
It is because they do not think at all; they only think they
think. Whereas they can't think; not two human beings in
ten thousand have anything to think with. And as to
imagination -- oh, well, look at their heaven! They accept it,
they approve it, they admire it. That gives you their
4. The inventor of their heaven empties into it all the
nations of the earth, in one common jumble. All are on an
equality absolute, no one of them ranking another; they
have to be "brothers"; they have to mix together, pray
together, harp together, Hosannah together -- whites,
niggers, Jews, everybody -- there's no distinction. Here in
the earth all nations hate each other, and every one of
them hates the Jew. Yet every pious person adores that
heaven and wants to get into it. He really does. And when
he is in a holy rapture he thinks he thinks that if he were
only there he would take all the populace to his heart, and
hug, and hug, and hug!
He is a marvel -- man is! I would I knew who invented him.
5. Every man in the earth possesses some share of intellect,
large or small; and be it large or be it small he takes pride in
it. Also his heart swells at mention of the names of the
majestic intellectual chiefs of his race, and he loves the tale
of their splendid achievements. For he is of their blood, and
in honoring themselves they have honored him. Lo, what
the mind of man can do! he cries, and calls the roll of the
illustrious of all ages; and points to the imperishable
literatures they have given to the world, and the mechanical
wonders they have invented, and the glories wherewith they
have clothed science and the arts; and to them he uncovers
as to kings, and gives to them the profoundest homage, and
the sincerest, his exultant heart can furnish -- thus exalting
intellect above all things else in the world, and enthroning it
there under the arching skies in a supremacy
unapproachable. And then he contrived a heaven that
hasn't a rag of intellectuality in it anywhere!
Is it odd, is it curious, is it puzzling? It is exactly as I have
said, incredible as it may sound. This sincere adorer of
intellect and prodigal rewarder of its mighty services here in
the earth has invented a religion and a heaven which pay
no compliments to intellect, offer it no distinctions, fling it no
largess: in fact, never even mention it.
By this time you will have noticed that the human being's
heaven has been thought out and constructed upon an
absolute definite plan; and that this plan is, that it shall
contain, in labored detail, each and every imaginable thing
that is repulsive to a man, and not a single thing he likes!
Very well, the further we proceed the more will this curious
fact be apparent.
Make a note of it: in man's heaven there are no exercises
for the intellect, nothing for it to live upon. It would rot there
in a year -- rot and stink. Rot and stink -- and at that stage
become holy. A blessed thing: for only the holy can stand
the joys of that bedlam.
You have noticed that the human being is a curiosity. In
times past he has had (and worn out and flung away)
hundreds and hundreds of religions; today he has hundreds
and hundreds of religions, and launches not fewer than
three new ones every year. I could enlarge that number
and still be within the facts.
One of his principle religions is called the Christian. A
sketch of it will interest you. It sets forth in detail in a book
containing two million words, called the Old and New
Testaments. Also it has another name -- The Word of God.
For the Christian thinks every word of it was dictated by
God -- the one I have been speaking of.
It is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some
clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and
some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and
upwards of a thousand lies.
This Bible is built mainly out of the fragments of older
Bibles that had their day and crumbled to ruin. So it
noticeably lacks in originality, necessarily. Its three or four
most imposing and impressive events all happened in
earlier Bibles; all its best precepts and rules of conduct
came also from those Bibles; there are only two new
things in it: hell, for one, and that singular heaven I have
told you about.
What shall we do? If we believe, with these people, that
their God invented these cruel things, we slander him; if
we believe that these people invented them themselves,
we slander them. It is an unpleasant dilemma in either
case, for neither of these parties has done us any harm.
For the sake of tranquility, let us take a side. Let us join
forces with the people and put the whole ungracious
burden upon him -- heaven, hell, Bible and all. It does not
seem right, it does not seem fair; and yet when you
consider that heaven, and how crushingly charged it is
with everything that is repulsive to a human being, how
can we believe a human being invented it? And when I
come to tell you about hell, the stain will be greater still,
and you will be likely to say, No, a man would not provide
that place, for either himself or anybody else; he simply
That innocent Bible tells about the Creation. Of what -- the
universe? Yes, the universe. In six days!
God did it. He did not call it the universe -- that name is
modern. His whole attention was upon this world. He
constructed it in five days -- and then? It took him only one
day to make twenty million suns and eighty million planets!
What were they for -- according to this idea? To furnish
light for this little toy-world. That was his whole purpose;
he had no other. One of the twenty million suns (the
smallest one) was to light it in the daytime, the rest were
to help one of the universe's countless moons modify the
darkness of its nights.
It is quite manifest that he believed his fresh-made skies
were diamond-sown with those myriads of twinkling stars
the moment his first-day's sun sank below the horizon;
whereas, in fact, not a single star winked in that black vault
until three years and a half after that memorable week's
formidable industries had been completed.[**] then one star
appeared, all solitary and alone, and began to blink. Three
years later another one appeared. The two blinked together
for more than four years before a third joined them. At the
end of the first hundred years there were not yet twenty-five
stars twinkling in the wide wastes of those gloomy skies. At
the end of a thousand years not enough stars were yet
visible to make a show. At the end of a million years only
half of the present array had sent their light over the
telescopic frontiers, and it took another million for the rest to
follow suit, as the vulgar phrase goes. There being at that
time no telescope, their advent was not observed.
For three hundred years, now, the Christian astronomer has
known that his Deity didn't make the stars in those
tremendous six days; but the Christian astronomer does not
enlarge upon that detail. Neither does the priest.
In his Book, God is eloquent in his praises of his mighty
works, and calls them by the largest names he can find --
thus indicating that he has a strong and just admiration of
magnitudes; yet he made those millions of prodigious suns
to light this wee little orb, instead of appointing this orb's
little sun to dance attendance upon them. He mentions
Arcturus in his book -- you remember Arcturus; we went
there once. It is one of the earth's night lamps! -- that giant
globe which is fifty thousand times as large as the earth's
sun, and compares with it as a melon compares with a
However, the Sunday school still teaches the child that
Arcturus was created to help light this earth, and the child
grows up and continues to believe it long after he has found
out that the probabilities are against it being so.
According to the Book and its servants the universe is only
six thousand years old. It is only within the last hundred
years that studious, inquiring minds have found out that it is
nearer a hundred million.
During the Six Days, God created man and the other
He made a man and a woman and placed them in a
pleasant garden, along with the other creatures. They all
lived together there in harmony and contentment and
blooming youth for some time; then trouble came. God had
warned the man and the woman that they must not eat of
the fruit of a certain tree. And he added a most strange
remark: he said that if they ate of it they should surely die.
Strange, for the reason that inasmuch as they had never
seen a sample death they could not possibly know what he
meant. Neither would he nor any other god have been
able to make those ignorant children understand what was
meant, without furnishing a sample. The mere word could
have no meaning for them, any more than it would have
for an infant of days.
Presently a serpent sought them out privately, and came
to them walking upright, which was the way of serpents in
those days. The serpent said the forbidden fruit would
store their vacant minds with knowledge. So they ate it,
which was quite natural, for man is so made that he
eagerly wants to know; whereas the priest, like God,
whose imitator and representative he is, has made it his
business from the beginning to keep him from knowing
any useful thing.
Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, and at once a great
light streamed into their dim heads. They had acquired
knowledge. What knowledge -- useful knowledge? No --
merely knowledge that there was such a thing as good,
and such a thing as evil, and how to do evil. they couldn't
do it before. Therefore all their acts up to this time had
been without stain, without blame, without offense.
But now they could do evil -- and suffer for it; now they
had acquired what the Church calls an invaluable
possession, the Moral Sense; that sense which
differentiates man from the beast and sets him above the
beast. Instead of below the beast -- where one would
suppose his proper place would be, since he is always
foul-minded and guilty and the beast always clean-minded
and innocent. It is like valuing a watch that must go wrong,
above a watch that can't.
The Church still prizes the Moral Sense as man's noblest
asset today, although the Church knows God had a
distinctly poor opinion of it and did what he could in his
clumsy way to keep his happy Children of the Garden
from acquiring it.
Very well, Adam and Eve now knew what evil was, and
how to do it. They knew how to do various kinds of wrong
things, and among them one principal one -- the one God
had his mind on principally. That one was the art and
mystery of sexual intercourse. To them it was a
magnificent discovery, and they stopped idling around and
turned their entire attention to it, poor exultant young
In the midst of one of these celebrations they heard God
walking among the bushes, which was an afternoon
custom of his, and they were smitten with fright. Why?
Because they were naked. They had not known it before.
They had not minded it before; neither had God.
In that memorable moment immodesty was born; and some
people have valued it ever since, though it would certainly
puzzle them to explain why.
Adam and Eve entered the world naked and unashamed --
naked and pure-minded; and no descendant of theirs has
ever entered it otherwise. All have entered it naked,
unashamed, and clean in mind. They have entered it
modest. They had to acquire immodesty and the soiled
mind; there was no other way to get it. A Christian mother's
first duty is to soil her child's mind, and she does not neglect
it. Her lad grows up to be a missionary, and goes to the
innocent savage and to the civilized Japanese, and soils
their minds. Whereupon they adopt immodesty, they
conceal their bodies, they stop bathing naked together.
The convention miscalled modesty has no standard, and
cannot have one, because it is opposed to nature and
reason, and is therefore an artificiality and subject to
anybody's whim, anybody's diseased caprice. And so, in
India the refined lady covers her face and breasts and
leaves her legs naked from the hips down, while the refined
European lady covers her legs and exposes her face and
her breasts. In lands inhabited by the innocent savage the
refined European lady soon gets used to full-grown native
stark-nakedness, and ceases to be offended by it. A highly
cultivated French count and countess -- unrelated to each
other -- who were marooned in their nightclothes, by
shipwreck, upon an uninhabited island in the eighteenth
century, were soon naked. Also ashamed -- for a week.
After that their nakedness did not trouble them, and they
soon ceased to think about it.
You have never seen a person with clothes on. Oh, well,
you haven't lost anything.
To proceed with the Biblical curiosities. Naturally you will
think the threat to punish Adam and Eve for disobeying was
of course not carried out, since they did not create
themselves, nor their natures nor their impulses nor their
weaknesses, and hence were not properly subject to
anyone's commands, and not responsible to anybody for
their acts. It will surprise you to know that the threat was
carried out. Adam and Eve were punished, and that crime
finds apologists unto this day. The sentence of death was
As you perceive, the only person responsible for the
couple's offense escaped; and not only escaped but
became the executioner of the innocent.
In your country and mine we should have the privilege of
making fun of this kind of morality, but it would be unkind to
do it here. Many of these people have the reasoning faculty,
but no one uses it in religious matters.
The best minds will tell you that when a man has begotten
a child he is morally bound to tenderly care for it, protect it
from hurt, shield it from disease, clothe it, feed it, bear with
its waywardness, lay no hand upon it save in kindness
and for its own good, and never in any case inflict upon it
a wanton cruelty. God's treatment of his earthly children,
every day and every night, is the exact opposite of all that,
yet those best minds warmly justify these crimes, condone
them, excuse them, and indignantly refuse to regard them
as crimes at all, when he commits them. Your country and
mine is an interesting one, but there is nothing there that
is half so interesting as the human mind.
Very well, God banished Adam and Eve from the Garden,
and eventually assassinated them. All for disobeying a
command which he had no right to utter. But he did not
stop there, as you will see. He has one code of morals for
himself, and quite another for his children. He requires his
children to deal justly -- and gently -- with offenders, and
forgive them seventy-and-seven times; whereas he deals
neither justly nor gently with anyone, and he did not
forgive the ignorant and thoughtless first pair of juveniles
even their first small offense and say, "You may go free
this time, and I will give you another chance."
On the contrary! He elected to punish their children, all
through the ages to the end of time, for a trifling offense
committed by others before they were born. He is
punishing them yet. In mild ways? No, in atrocious ones.
You would not suppose that this kind of Being gets many
compliments. Undeceive yourself: the world calls him the
All-Just, the All-Righteous, the All-Good, the All-Merciful,
the All-Forgiving, the All-Truthful, the All-Loving, the
Source of All Morality. These sarcasms are uttered daily,
all over the world. But not as conscious sarcasms. No,
they are meant seriously: they are uttered without a smile.
So the First Pair went forth from the Garden under a curse
-- a permanent one. They had lost every pleasure they
had possessed before "The Fall"; and yet they were rich,
for they had gained one worth all the rest: they knew the
They practiced it diligently and were filled with
contentment. The Deity ordered them to practice it. They
obeyed, this time. But it was just as well it was not
forbidden, for they would have practiced it anyhow, if a
thousand Deities had forbidden it.
Results followed. By the name of Cain and Abel. And
these had some sisters; and knew what to do with them.
And so there were some more results: Cain and Abel
begot some nephews and nieces. These, in their turn, begot
some second cousins. At this point classification of
relationships began to get difficult, and the attempt to keep
it up was abandoned.
The pleasant labor of populating the world went on from age
to age, and with prime efficiency; for in those happy days
the sexes were still competent for the Supreme Art when by
rights they ought to have been dead eight hundred years.
The sweeter sex, the dearer sex, the lovelier sex was
manifestly at its very best, then, for it was even able to
attract gods. Real gods. They came down out of heaven
and had wonderful times with those hot young blossoms.
The Bible tells about it.
By help of those visiting foreigners the population grew and
grew until it numbered several millions. But it was a
disappointment to the Deity. He was dissatisfied with its
morals; which in some respects were not any better than his
own. Indeed they were an unflatteringly close imitation of
his own. They were a very bad people, and as he knew of
no way to reform them, he wisely concluded to abolish them.
This is the only really enlightened and superior idea his
Bible has credited him with, and it would have made his
reputation for all time if he could only have kept to it and
carried it out. But he was always unstable -- except in his
advertisements -- and his good resolution broke down. He
took a pride in man; man was his finest invention; man was
his pet, after the housefly, and he could not bear to lose him
wholly; so he finally decided to save a sample of him and
drown the rest.
Nothing could be more characteristic of him. He created all
those infamous people, and he alone was responsible for
their conduct. Not one of them deserved death, yet it was
certainly good policy to extinguish them; especially since in
creating them the master crime had already been
committed, and to allow them to go on procreating would be
a distinct addition to the crime. But at the same time there
could be no justice, no fairness, in any favoritism -- all
should be drowned or none.
No, he would not have it so; he would save half a dozen
and try the race over again. He was not able to foresee that
it would go rotten again, for he is only the Far-Sighted One
in his advertisements.
He saved out Noah and his family, and arranged to
exterminate the rest. He planned an Ark, and Noah built it.
Neither of them had ever built an Ark before, nor knew
anything about Arks; and so something out of the common
was to be expected. It happened. Noah was a farmer, and
although he knew what was required of the Ark he was
quite incompetent to say whether this one would be large
enough to meet the requirements or not (which it wasn't), so
he ventured no advice. The Deity did not know it wasn't
large enough, but took the chances and made no adequate
measurements. In the end the ship fell far short of the
necessities, and to this day the world still suffers for it.
Noah built the Ark. He built it the best he could, but left out
most of the essentials. It had no rudder, it had no sails, it
had no compass, it had no pumps, it had no charts, no
lead-lines, no anchors, no log, no light, no ventilation, and
as for cargo room -- which was the main thing -- the less
said about that the better. It was to be at sea eleven
months, and would need fresh water enough to fill two
Arks of its size -- yet the additional Ark was not provided.
Water from outside could not be utilized: half of it would be
salt water, and men and land animals could not drink it.
For not only was a sample of man to be saved, but
business samples of the other animals, too. You must
understand that when Adam ate the apple in the Garden
and learned how to multiply and replenish, the other
animals learned the Art, too, by watching Adam. It was
cunning of them, it was neat; for they got all that was
worth having out of the apple without tasting it and
afflicting themselves with the disastrous Moral Sense, the
parent of all immoralities.
Noah began to collect animals. There was to be one
couple of each and every sort of creature that walked or
crawled, or swam or flew, in the world of animated nature.
We have to guess at how long it took to collect the
creatures and how much it cost, for there is no record of
these details. When Symmachus made preparation to
introduce his young son to grown-up life in imperial Rome,
he sent men to Asia, Africa and everywhere to collect wild
animals for the arena-fights. It took the men three years to
accumulate the animals and fetch them to Rome. Merely
quadrupeds and alligators, you understand -- no birds, no
snakes, no frogs, no worms, no lice, no rats, no fleas, no
ticks, no caterpillars, no spiders, no houseflies, no
mosquitoes -- nothing but just plain simple quadrupeds
and alligators: and no quadrupeds except fighting ones.
Yet it was as I have said: it took three years to collect
them, and the cost of animals and transportation and the
men's wages footed up $4,500,000.
How many animals? We do not know. But it was under
five thousand, for that was the largest number ever
gathered for those Roman shows, and it was Titus, not
Symmachus, who made that collection. Those were mere
baby museums, compared to Noah's contract. Of birds
and beasts and fresh-water creatures he had to collect
146,000 kinds; and of insects upwards of two million
Thousands and thousands of those things are very difficult
to catch, and if Noah had not given up and resigned, he
would be on the job yet, as Leviticus used to say. However,
I do not mean that he withdrew. No, he did not do that. He
gathered as many creatures as he had room for, and then
If he had known all the requirements in the beginning, he
would have been aware that what was needed was a fleet
of Arks. But he did not know how many kinds of creatures
there were, neither did his Chief. So he had no Kangaroo,
and no 'possom, and no Gila monster, and no
ornithorhynchus, and lacked a multitude of other
indispensable blessings which a loving Creator had
provided for man and forgotten about, they having long ago
wandered to a side of this world which he had never seen
and with whose affairs he was not acquainted. And so
everyone of them came within a hair of getting drowned.
They only escaped by an accident. There was not water
enough to go around. Only enough was provided to flood
one small corner of the globe -- the rest of the globe was
not then known, and was supposed to be nonexistent.
However, the thing that really and finally and definitely
determined Noah to stop with enough species for purely
business purposes and let the rest become extinct, was an
incident of the last days: an excited stranger arrived with
some most alarming news. He said he had been camping
among some mountains and valleys about six hundred
miles away, and he had seen a wonderful thing there: he
stood upon a precipice overlooking a wide valley, and up
the valley he was a billowy black sea of strange animal life
coming. Presently the creatures passed by, struggling,
fighting, scrambling, screeching, snorting -- horrible vast
masses of tumultuous flesh! Sloths as big as an elephant;
frogs as big as a cow; a megatherium and his harem huge
beyond belief; saurians and saurians and saurians, group
after group, family after family, species after species -- a
hundred feet long, thirty feet high, and twice as
quarrelsome; one of them hit a perfectly blameless Durham
bull a thump with its tail and sent it whizzing three hundred
feet into the air and it fell at the man's feet with a sigh and
was no more. The man said that these prodigious animals
had heard about the Ark and were coming. Coming to get
saved from the flood. And not coming in pairs, they were all
coming: they did not know the passengers were restricted to
pairs, the man said, and wouldn't care a rap for the
regulations, anyway -- they would sail in that Ark or know
the reason why. The man said the Ark would not hold the
half of them; and moreover they were coming hungry, and
would eat up everything there was, including the menagerie
and the family.
All these facts were suppressed, in the Biblical account.
You find not a hint of them there. The whole thing is hushed
up. Not even the names of those vast creatures are
mentioned. It shows you that when people have left a
reproachful vacancy in a contract they can be as shady
about it in Bibles as elsewhere. Those powerful animals
would be of inestimable value to man now, when
transportation is so hard pressed and expensive, but they
are all lost to him. All lost, and by Noah's fault. They all got
drowned. Some of them as much as eight million years
Very well, the stranger told his tale, and Noah saw that he
must get away before the monsters arrived. He would
have sailed at once, but the upholsterers and decorators
of the housefly's drawing room still had some finishing
touches to put on, and that lost him a day. Another day
was lost in getting the flies aboard, there being sixty-eight
billions of them and the Deity still afraid there might not be
enough. Another day was lost in stowing forty tons of
selected filth for the flies' sustenance.
Then at last, Noah sailed; and none too soon, for the Ark
was only just sinking out of sight on the horizon when the
monsters arrived, and added their lamentations to those of
the multitude of weeping fathers and mothers and
frightened little children who were clinging to the wavewashed
rocks in the pouring rain and lifting imploring
prayers to an All-Just and All-Forgiving and All-Pitying
Being who had never answered a prayer since those
crags were builded, grain by grain, out of the sands, and
would still not have answered one when the ages should
have crumbled them to sand again.
On the third day, about noon, it was found that a fly and
been left behind. The return voyage turned out to be long
and difficult, on account of the lack of chart and compass,
and because of the changed aspects of all coasts, the
steadily rising water having submerged some of the lower
landmarks and given to higher ones an unfamiliar look; but
after sixteen days of earnest and faithful seeking, the fly
was found at last, and received on board with hymns of
praise and gratitude, the Family standing meanwhile
uncovered, our of reverence for its divine origin. It was
weary and worn, and had suffered somewhat from the
weather, but was otherwise in good estate. Men and their
families had died of hunger on barren mountain tops, but it
had not lacked for food, the multitudinous corpses
furnishing it in rank and rotten richness. Thus was the
sacred bird providentially preserved.
Providentially. That is the word. For the fly had not been
left behind by accident. No, the hand of Providence was in
it. There are no accidents. All things that happen, happen
for a purpose. They are foreseen from the beginning of
time, they are ordained from the beginning of time. From
the dawn of Creation the Lord had foreseen that Noah,
being alarmed and confused by the invasion of the
prodigious brevet fossils, would prematurely fly to sea
unprovided with a certain invaluable disease. He would
have all the other diseases, and could distribute them
among the new races of men as they appeared in the world,
but he would lack one of the very best -- typhoid fever; a
malady which, when the circumstances are especially
favorable, is able to utterly wreck a patient without killing
him; for it can restore him to his feet with a long life in him,
and yet deaf, dumb, blind, crippled, and idiotic. The housefly
is its main disseminator, and is more competent and more
calamitously effective than all the other distributors of the
dreaded scourge put together. And so, by foreordination
from the beginning of time, this fly was left behind to seek
out a typhoid corpse and feed upon its corruptions and
gaum its legs with germs and transmit them to the repeopled
world for permanent business. From that one
housefly, in the ages that have since elapsed, billions of
sickbeds have been stocked, billions of wrecked bodies
sent tottering about the earth, and billions of cemeteries
recruited with the dead.
It is most difficult to understand the disposition of the Bible
God, it is such a confusion of contradictions; of watery
instabilities and iron firmness; of goody-goody abstract
morals made out of words, and concreted hell-born ones
made out of acts; of fleeting kindness repented of in
However, when after much puzzling you get at the key to
his disposition, you do at last arrive at a sort of
understanding of it. With a most quaint and juvenile and
astonishing frankness he has furnished that key himself. It
I expect that to take your breath away. You are aware -- for
I have already told you in an earlier letter -- that among
human beings jealousy ranks distinctly as a weakness; a
trade-mark of small minds; a property of all small minds, yet
a property which even the smallest is ashamed of; and
when accused of its possession will lyingly deny it and
resent the accusation as an insult.
Jealousy. Do not forget it, keep it in mind. It is the key. With
it you will come to partly understand God as we go along;
without it nobody can understand him. As I have said, he
has openly held up this treasonous key himself, for all to
see. He says, naïvely, outspokenly, and without suggestion
of embarrassment: "I the Lord thy God am a jealous God."
You see, it is only another way of saying, "I the Lord thy
God am a small God; a small God, and fretful about small
He was giving a warning: he could not bear the thought of
any other God getting some of the Sunday compliments of
this comical little human race -- he wanted all of them for
himself. He valued them. To him they were riches; just as
tin money is to a Zulu.
But wait -- I am not fair; I am misrepresenting him;
prejudice is beguiling me into saying what is not true. He
did not say he wanted all of the adulations; he said
nothing about not being willing to share them with his
fellow gods; what he said was, "Thou shalt have no other
gods before me."
It is a quite different thing, and puts him in a much better
light -- I confess it. There was an abundance of gods, the
woods were full of them, as the saying is, and all he
demanded was that he should be ranked as high as the
others -- not above any of them, but not below any of them.
He was willing that they should fertilize earthly virgins, but
not on any better terms than he could have for himself in
his turn. He wanted to be held their equal. This he insisted
upon, in the clearest language: he would have no other
gods before him. They could march abreast with him, but
none of them could head the procession, and he did not
claim the right to head it himself.
Do you think he was able to stick to that upright and
creditable position? No. He could keep to a bad resolution
forever, but he couldn't keep to a good one a month. By
and by he threw aside and calmly claimed to be the only
God in the entire universe.
As I was saying, jealousy is the key; all through his history
it is present and prominent. It is the blood and bone of his
disposition, it is the basis of his character. How small a
thing can wreck his composure and disorder his
judgement if it touches the raw of his jealousy! And
nothing warms up this trait so quickly and so surely and so
exaggeratedly as a suspicion that some competition with
the god-Trust is impending. The fear that if Adam and Eve
ate of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge they would "be as
gods" so fired his jealousy that his reason was affected,
and he could not treat those poor creatures either fairly or
charitably, or even refrain from dealing cruelly and
criminally with their blameless posterity.
To this day his reason has never recovered from that
shock; a wild nightmare of vengefulness has possessed
him ever since, and he has almost bankrupted his native
ingenuities in inventing pains and miseries and
humiliations and heartbreaks wherewith to embitter the
brief lives of Adam's descendants. Think of the diseases
he has contrived for them! They are multitudinous; no
book can name them all. And each one is a trap, set for an
The human being is a machine. An automatic machine. It
is composed of thousands of complex and delicate
mechanisms, which perform their functions harmoniously
and perfectly, in accordance with laws devised for their
governance, and over which the man himself has no
authority, no mastership, no control. For each one of these
thousands of mechanisms the Creator has planned an
enemy, whose office is to harass it, pester it, persecute it,
damage it, afflict it with pains, and miseries, and ultimate
destruction. Not one has been overlooked.
From cradle to grave these enemies are always at work;
they know no rest, night or day. They are an army: an
organized army; a besieging army; an assaulting army; an
army that is alert, watchful, eager, merciless; an army that
never relents, never grants a truce.
It moves by squad, by company, by battalion, by regiment,
by brigade, by division, by army corps; upon occasion it
masses its parts and moves upon mankind with its whole
strength. It is the Creator's Grand Army, and he is the
Commander-in-Chief. Along its battlefront its grisly banners
wave their legends in the face of the sun: Disaster, Disease,
and the rest.
Disease! That is the main force, the diligent force, the
devastating force! It attacks the infant the moment it is born;
it furnishes it one malady after another: croup, measles,
mumps, bowel troubles, teething pains, scarlet fever, and
other childhood specialties. It chases the child into youth
and furnishes it some specialties for that time of life. It
chases the youth into maturity, maturity into age, age into
With these facts before you will you now try to guess man's
chiefest pet name for this ferocious Commander-in-Chief? I
will save you the trouble -- but you must not laugh. It is Our
Father in Heaven!
It is curious -- the way the human mind works. The Christian
begins with this straight proposition, this definite proposition,
this inflexible and uncompromising proposition: God is allknowing,
This being the case, nothing can happen without his
knowing beforehand that it is going to happen; nothing
happens without his permission; nothing can happen that he
chooses to prevent.
That is definite enough, isn't it? It makes the Creator
distinctly responsible for everything that happens, doesn't
The Christian concedes it in that italicized sentence.
Concedes it with feeling, with enthusiasm.
Then, having thus made the Creator responsible for all
those pains and diseases and miseries above enumerated,
and which he could have prevented, the gifted Christian
blandly calls him Our Father!
It is as I tell you. He equips the Creator with every trait that
goes to the making of a fiend, and then arrives at the
conclusion that a fiend and a father are the same thing!
Yet he would deny that a malevolent lunatic and a Sunday
school superintendent are essentially the same. What do
you think of the human mind? I mean, in case you think
there is a human mind.
Noah and his family were saved -- if that could be called
an advantage. I throw in the if for the reason that there
has never been an intelligent person of the age of sixty
who would consent to live his life over again. His or
anyone else's. The Family were saved, yes, but they were
not comfortable, for they were full of microbes. Full to the
eyebrows; fat with them, obese with them, distended like
balloons. It was a disagreeable condition, but it could not
be helped, because enough microbes had to be saved to
supply the future races of men with desolating diseases,
and there were but eight persons on board to serve as
hotels for them. The microbes were by far the most
important part of the Ark's cargo, and the part the Creator
was most anxious about and most infatuated with. They
had to have good nourishment and pleasant
accommodations. There were typhoid germs, and cholera
germs, and hydrophobia germs, and lockjaw germs, and
consumption germs, and black-plague germs, and some
hundreds of other aristocrats, specially precious creations,
golden bearers of God's love to man, blessed gifts of the
infatuated Father to his children -- all of which had to be
sumptuously housed and richly entertained; these were
located in the choicest places the interiors of the Family
could furnish: in the lungs, in the heart, in the brain, in the
kidneys, in the blood, in the guts. In the guts particularly.
The great intestine was the favorite resort. There they
gathered, by countless billions, and worked, and fed, and
squirmed, and sang hymns of praise and thanksgiving;
and at night when it was quiet you could hear the soft
murmur of it. The large intestine was in effect their heaven.
They stuffed it solid; they made it as rigid as a coil of
gaspipe. They took pride in this. Their principal hymn
made gratified reference to it:
Constipation, O Constipation,
The Joyful sound proclaim
Till man's remotest entrail
Shall praise its Maker's name
The discomforts furnished by the Ark were many and
various. The family had to live right in the presence of the
multitudinous animals, and breathe the distressing stench
they make and be deafened day and night with the thundercrash
of noise their roarings and screechings produced; and
in additions to these intolerable discomforts it was a
peculiarly trying place for the ladies, for they could look in
no direction without seeing some thousands of the
creatures engaged in multiplying and replenishing. And then,
there were the flies. They swarmed everywhere, and
persecuted the Family all day long. They were the first
animals up, in the morning, and the last ones down, at night.
But they must not be killed, they must not be injured, they
were sacred, their origin was divine, they were the special
pets of the Creator, his darlings.
By and by the other creatures would be distributed here and
there about the earth -- scattered: the tigers to India, the
lions and the elephants to the vacant desert and the secret
places of the jungle, the birds to the boundless regions of
empty space, the insects to one or another climate,
according to nature and requirement; but the fly? He is of no
nationality; all the climates are his home, all the globe is his
province, all creatures that breathe are his prey, and unto
them all he is a scourge and a hell.
To man he is a divine ambassador, a minister
plenipotentiary, the Creator's special representative. He
infests him in his cradle; clings in bunches to his gummy
eyelids; buzzes and bites and harries him, robbing him of
his sleep and his weary mother of her strength in those long
vigils which she devotes to protecting her child from this
pest's persecutions. The fly harries the sick man in his
home, in the hospital, even on his deathbed at his last gasp.
Pesters him at his meals; previously hunts up patients
suffering from loathsome and deadly diseases; wades in
their sores, gaums its legs with a million death-dealing
germs; then comes to that healthy man's table and wipes
these things off on the butter and discharges a bowel-load
of typhoid germs and excrement on his batter-cakes. The
housefly wrecks more human constitutions and destroys
more human lives than all God's multitude of miserymessengers
and death-agents put together.
Shem was full of hookworms. It is wonderful, the thorough
and comprehensive study which the Creator devoted to the
great work of making man miserable. I have said he devised
a special affliction-agent for each and every detail of man's
structure, overlooking not a single one, and I said the truth.
Many poor people have to go barefoot, because they
cannot afford shoes. The Creator saw his opportunity. I will
remark, in passing, that he always has his eye on the poor.
Nine-tenths of his disease-inventions were intended for the
poor, and they get them. The well-to-do get only what is left
over. Do not suspect me of speaking unheedfully, for it is
not so: the vast bulk of the Creator's affliction-inventions are
specially designed for the persecution of the poor. You
could guess this by the fact that one of the pulpit's finest
and commonest names for the Creator is "The Friend of the
Poor." Under no circumstances does the pulpit ever pay the
Creator a compliment that has a vestige of truth in it. The
poor's most implacable and unwearying enemy is their
Father in Heaven. The poor's only real friend is their fellow
man. He is sorry for them, he pities them, and he shows it
by his deeds. He does much to relieve their distresses;
and in every case their Father in Heaven gets the credit of
Just so with diseases. If science exterminates a disease
which has been working for God, it is God that gets the
credit, and all the pulpits break into grateful advertisingraptures
and call attention to how good he is! Yes, he has
done it. Perhaps he has waited a thousand years before
doing it. That is nothing; the pulpit says he was thinking
about it all the time. When exasperated men rise up and
sweep away an age-long tyranny and set a nation free,
the first thing the delighted pulpit does is to advertise it as
God's work, and invite the people to get down on their
knees and pour out their thanks to him for it. And the pulpit
says with admiring emotion, "Let tyrants understand that
the Eye that never sleeps is upon them; and let them
remember that the Lord our God will not always be patient,
but will loose the whirlwinds of his wrath upon them in his
They forget to mention that he is the slowest mover in the
universe; that his Eye that never sleeps, might as well,
since it takes it a century to see what any other eye would
see in a week; that in all history there is not an instance
where he thought of a noble deed first, but always thought
of it just a little after somebody else had thought of it and
done it. He arrives then, and annexes the dividend.
Very well, six thousand years ago Shem was full of
hookworms. Microscopic in size, invisible to the unaided
eye. All of the Creator's specially deadly disease producers
are invisible. It is an ingenious idea. For thousands
of years it kept man from getting at the roots of
his maladies, and defeated his attempts to master them. It
is only very recently that science has succeeded in
exposing some of these treacheries.
The very latest of these blessed triumphs of science is the
discovery and identification of the ambuscaded assassin
which goes by the name of the hookworm. Its special prey
is the barefooted poor. It lies in wait in warm regions and
sandy places and digs its way into their unprotected feet.
The hookworm was discovered two or three years ago by
a physician, who had been patiently studying its victims for
a long time. The disease induced by the hookworm had
been doing its evil work here and there in the earth ever
since Shem landed on Ararat, but it was never suspected
to be a disease at all. The people who had it were merely
supposed to be lazy, and were therefore despised and
made fun of, when they should have been pitied. The
hookworm is a peculiarly sneaking and underhanded
invention, and has done its surreptitious work unmolested
for ages; but that physician and his helpers will exterminate
God is back of this. He has been thinking about it for six
thousand years, and making up his mind. The idea of
exterminating the hookworm was his. He came very near
doing it before Dr. Charles Wardell Stiles did. But he is in
time to get the credit of it. He always is.
It is going to cost a million dollars. He was probably just in
the act of contributing that sum when a man pushed in
ahead of him -- as usual. Mr. Rockefeller. He furnishes the
million, but the credit will go elsewhere -- as usual. This
morning's journal tells us something about the hookworm's
The hookworm parasites often so lower the vitality
of those who are affected as to retard their physical
and mental development, render them more
susceptible to other diseases, make labor less
efficient, and in the sections where the malady is
most prevalent greatly increase the death rate from
consumption, pneumonia, typhoid fever and malaria.
It has been shown that the lowered vitality of
multitudes, long attributed to malaria and climate
and seriously affecting economic development, is in
fact due in some districts to this parasite. The
disease is by no means confined to any one class;
intelligent and well to do as well as the less
fortunate. It is a conservative estimate that two
millions of our people are affected by this parasite.
The disease is more common and more serious in
children of school age than in other persons.
Widespread and serious as the infection is, there is
still a most encouraging outlook. The disease can
be easily recognized, readily and effectively treated
and by simple and proper sanitary precautions
successfully prevented [with God's help].
The poor children are under the Eye that never sleeps, you
see. They have had that ill luck in all the ages. They and
"the Lord's poor" -- as the sarcastic phrase goes -- have
never been able to get away from that Eye's attentions.
Yes, the poor, the humble, the ignorant -- they are the ones
that catch it. Take the "Sleeping Sickness," of Africa. This
atrocious cruelty has for its victims a race of ignorant and
unoffending blacks whom God placed in a remote
wilderness, and bent his parental Eye upon them -- the one
that never sleeps when there is a chance to breed sorrow
for somebody. He arranged for these people before the
Flood. The chosen agent was a fly, related to the tsetse; the
tsetse is a fly which has command of the Zambezi country
and stings cattle and horses to death, thus rendering that
region uninhabitable by man. The tsetse's awful relative
deposits a microbe which produces the Sleeping Sickness.
Ham was full of these microbes, and when the voyage
was over he discharged them in Africa and the havoc
began, never to find amelioration until six thousand years
should go by and science should pry into the mystery and
hunt out the cause of the disease. The pious nations are
now thanking God, and praising him for coming to the
rescue of his poor blacks. The pulpit says the praise is
due to him. He is surely a curious Being. He commits a
fearful crime, continues that crime unbroken for six
thousand years, and is then entitled to praise because he
suggests to somebody else to modify its severities. He is
called patient, and he certainly must be patient, or he
would have sunk the pulpit in perdition ages ago for the
ghastly compliments it pays him.
Science has this to say about the Sleeping Sickness,
otherwise called the Negro Lethargy:
It is characterized by periods of sleep recurring at
intervals. The disease lasts from four months to
four years, and is always fatal. The victim appears
at first languid, weak, pallid, and stupid. His
eyelids become puffy, an eruption appears on his
skin. He falls asleep while talking, eating, or
working. As the disease progresses he is fed with
difficulty and becomes much emaciated. The
failure of nutrition and the appearance of
bedsores are followed by convulsions and death.
Some patients become insane.
It is he whom Church and people call Our Father in
Heaven who has invented the fly and sent him to inflict
this dreary long misery and melancholy and wretchedness,
and decay of body and mind, upon a poor savage who
has done that Great Criminal no harm. There isn't a man
in the world who doesn't pity that poor black sufferer, and
there isn't a man that wouldn't make him whole if he could.
To find the one person who has no pity for him you must
go to heaven; to find the one person who is able to heal
him and couldn't be persuaded to do it, you must go to the
same place. There is only one father cruel enough to
afflict his child with that horrible disease -- only one. Not
all the eternities can produce another one. Do you like
reproachful poetical indignations warmly expressed? Here
is one, hot from the heart of a slave:
Man's inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn!
I will tell you a pleasant tale which has in it a touch of
pathos. A man got religion, and asked the priest what he
must do to be worthy of his new estate. The priest said,
"Imitate our Father in Heaven, learn to be like him." The
man studied his Bible diligently and thoroughly and
understandingly, and then with prayers for heavenly
guidance instituted his imitations. He tricked his wife into
falling downstairs, and she broke her back and became a
paralytic for life; he betrayed his brother into the hands of a
sharper, who robbed him of his all and landed him in the
almshouse; he inoculated one son with hookworms, another
with the sleeping sickness, another with gonorrhea; he
furnished one daughter with scarlet fever and ushered her
into her teens deaf, dumb, and blind for life; and after
helping a rascal seduce the remaining one, he closed his
doors against her and she died in a brothel cursing him.
Then he reported to the priest, who said that that was no
way to imitate his Father in Heaven. The convert asked
wherein he had failed, but the priest changed the subject
and inquired what kind of weather he was having, up his
Man is without any doubt the most interesting fool there is.
Also the most eccentric. He hasn't a single written law, in
his Bible or out of it, which has any but just one purpose
and intention -- to limit or defeat the law of God.
He can seldom take a plain fact and get any but a wrong
meaning out of it. He cannot help this; it is the way the
confusion he calls his mind is constructed. Consider the
things he concedes, and the curious conclusions he draws
For instance, he concedes that God made man. Made him
without man's desire of privity.
This seems to plainly and indisputably make God, and God
alone, responsible for man's acts. But man denies this.
He concedes that God has made the angels perfect, without
blemish, and immune from pain and death, and that he
could have been similarly kind to man if he had wanted to,
but denies that he was under any moral obligation to do it.
He concedes that man has no moral right to visit the child of
his begetting with wanton cruelties, painful diseases and
death, but refuses to limit God's privileges in this sort with
the children of his begetting.
The Bible and man's statutes forbid murder, adultery,
fornication, lying, treachery, robbery, oppression and other
crimes, but contend that God is free of these laws and has a
right to break them when he will.
He concedes that God gives to each man his temperament,
his disposition, at birth; he concedes that man cannot by
any process change this temperament, but must remain
always under its dominion. Yet if it be full of dreadful
passions, in one man's case, and barren of them in another
man's, it is right and rational to punish the one for his
crimes, and reward the other for abstaining from crime.
There -- let us consider these curiosities.
Take two extremes of temperament -- the goat and the
Neither of these creatures makes its own temperament,
but is born with it, like man, and can no more change it
than can man.
Temperament is the law of God written in the heart of
every creature by God's own hand, and must be obeyed,
and will be obeyed in spite of all restricting or forbidding
statutes, let them emanate whence they may.
Very well, lust is the dominant feature of the goat's
temperament, the law of God is in its heart, and it must
obey it and will obey it the whole day long in the rutting
season, without stopping to eat or drink. If the Bible said to
the goat, "Thou shalt not fornicate, thou shalt not commit
adultery," even Man -- sap-headed man -- would
recognize the foolishness of the prohibition, and would
grant that the goat ought not to be punished for obeying
the law of his Maker. Yet he thinks it right and just that
man should be put under the prohibition. All men. All alike.
On its face this is stupid, for, by temperament, which is the
real law of God, many men are goats and can't help
committing adultery when they get a chance; whereas
there are numbers of men who, by temperament, can
keep their purity and let an opportunity go by if the woman
lacks in attractiveness. But the Bible doesn't allow adultery
at all, whether a person can help it or not. It allows no
distinction between goat and tortoise -- the excitable goat,
the emotional goat, that has to have some adultery every
day or fade and die; and the tortoise, that cold calm
puritan, that takes a treat only once in two years and then
goes to sleep in the midst of it and doesn't wake up for
sixty days. No lady goat is safe from criminal assault, even
on the Sabbath Day, when there is a gentleman goat
within three miles to leeward of her and nothing in the way
but a fence fourteen feet high, whereas neither the
gentleman tortoise nor the lady tortoise is ever hungry
enough for solemn joys of fornication to be willing to break
the Sabbath to get them. Now according to man's curious
reasoning, the goat has earned punishment, and the
"Thou shalt not commit adultery" is a command which
makes no distinction between the following persons. They
are all required to obey it:
Children at birth.
Children in the cradle.
Youths and maidens.
Men and women of 40.
The command does not distribute its burden equally, and
It is not hard upon the three sets of children.
It is hard -- harder -- still harder upon the next three sets --
It is blessedly softened to the next three sets.
It has now done all the damage it can, and might as well be
put out of commission. Yet with comical imbecility it is
continued, and the four remaining estates are put under its
crushing ban. Poor old wrecks, they couldn't disobey if they
tried. And think -- because they holily refrain from
adulterating each other, they get praise for it! Which is
nonsense; for even the Bible knows enough to know that if
the oldest veteran there could get his lost heyday back
again for an hour he would cast that commandment to the
winds and ruin the first woman he came across, even
though she were an entire stranger.
It is as I have said: every statute in the Bible and in the lawbooks
is an attempt to defeat a law of God -- in other words
an unalterable and indestructible law of nature. These
people's God has shown them by a million acts that he
respects none of the Bible's statutes. He breaks every one
of the himself, adultery and all.
The law of God, as quite plainly expressed in woman's
construction is this: There shall be no limit put upon your
intercourse with the other sex sexually, at any time of life.
The law of God, as quite plainly expressed in man's
construction is this: During your entire life you shall be
under inflexible limits and restrictions, sexually.
During twenty-three days in every month (in absence of
pregnancy) from the time a woman is seven years old till
she dies of old age, she is ready for action, and competent.
As competent as the candlestick is to receive the candle.
Competent every day, competent every night. Also she
wants that candle -- yearns for it, longs for it, hankers after
it, as commanded by the law of God in her heart.
But man is only briefly competent; and only then in the
moderate measure applicable to the word in his sex's
case. He is competent from the age of sixteen or
seventeen thence-forward for thirty-five years. After fifty
his performance is of poor quality, the intervals between
are wide, and its satisfactions of no great value to either
party; whereas his great-grandmother is as good as new.
There is nothing the matter with her plant. Her candlestick
is as firm as ever, whereas his candle is increasingly
softened and weakened by the weather of age, as the
years go by, until at last it can no longer stand, and is
mournfully laid to rest in the hope of a blessed
resurrection which is never to come.
By the woman's make, her plant has to be out of service
three days in the month, and during a part of her
pregnancy. These are times of discomfort, often of
suffering. For fair and just compensation she has the high
privilege of unlimited adultery all the other days of her life.
That is the law of God, as revealed in her make. What
becomes of this high privilege? Does she live in free
enjoyment of it? No. Nowhere in the whole world. She is
robbed of it everywhere. Who does this? Man. Man's
statutes -- if the Bible is the Word of God.
Now there you have a sample of man's "reasoning
powers," as he calls them. He observes certain facts. For
instance, that in all his life he never sees the day that he
can satisfy one woman; also, that no woman ever sees
the day that she can't overwork, and defeat, and put out of
commission any ten masculine plants that can be put to
bed to her.[**] He puts those strikingly suggestive and
luminous facts together, and from them draws this
astonishing conclusion: The Creator intended the woman
to be restricted to one man.
So he concretes that singular conclusion into law, for good
And he does it without consulting the woman, although she
has a thousand times more at stake in the matter than he
has. His procreative competency is limited to an average of
a hundred exercises per year for fifty years, hers is good for
three thousand a year for that whole time -- and as many
years longer as she may live. Thus his life interest in the
matter is five thousand refreshments, while hers is a
hundred and fifty thousand; yet instead of fairly and
honorably leaving the making of the law to the person who
has an overwhelming interest at stake in it, this
immeasurable hog, who has nothing at stake in it worth
considering, makes it himself!
You have heretofore found out, by my teachings, that man
is a fool; you are now aware that woman is a damned fool.
Now if you or any other really intelligent person were
arranging the fairness and justices between man and
woman, you would give the man one-fiftieth interest in one
woman, and the woman a harem. Now wouldn't you?
Necessarily. I give you my word, this creature with the
decrepit candle has arranged it exactly the other way.
Solomon, who was one of the Deity's favorites, had a
copulation cabinet composed of seven hundred wives and
three hundred concubines. To save his life he could not
have kept two of these young creatures satisfactorily
refreshed, even if he had had fifteen experts to help him.
Necessarily almost the entire thousand had to go hungry
years and years on a stretch. Conceive of a man
hardhearted enough to look daily upon all that suffering and
not be moved to mitigate it. He even wantonly added a
sharp pang to that pathetic misery; for he kept within those
women's sight, always, stalwart watchmen whose splendid
masculine forms made the poor lassies' mouths water but
who hadn't anything to solace a candlestick with, these
gentry being eunuchs. A eunuch is a person whose candle
has been put out. By art.[**]
From time to time, as I go along, I will take up a Biblical
statute and show you that it always violates a law of God,
and then is imported into the lawbooks of the nations, where
it continues its violations. But those things will keep; there is
The Ark continued its voyage, drifting around here and there
and yonder, compassless and uncontrolled, the sport of the
random winds and swirling currents. And the rain, the rain,
the rain! It kept falling, pouring, drenching, flooding. No such
rain had ever been seen before. Sixteen inches a day had
been heard of, but that was nothing to this. This was a
hundred and twenty inches a day -- ten feet! At this
incredible rate it rained forty days and forty nights, and
submerged every hill that was four hundred feet high. Then
the heavens and even the angels went dry; no more water
was to be had.
As a Universal flood it was a disappointment, but there
had been heaps of Universal Floods before, as is
witnessed by all the Bibles of all the nations, and this was
as good as the best one.
At last the Ark soared aloft and came to rest on top of
Mount Ararat, seventeen thousand feet above the valley,
and its living freight got out and went down the mountain.
Noah planted a vineyard, and drank the wine and was
This person had been selected from all the populations
because he was the best sample there was. He was to
start the human race on a new basis. This was the new
basis. The promise was bad. To go further with the
experiment was to run a great and most unwise risk. Now
was the time to do with these people what had been so
judiciously done with the others -- drown them. Anybody
but the Creator would have seen this. But he didn't see it.
That is, maybe he didn't.
It is claimed that from the beginning of time he foresaw
everything that would happen in the world. If that is true,
he foresaw that Adam and Eve would eat the apple; that
their posterity would be unendurable and have to be
drowned; that Noah's posterity would in their turn be
unendurable, and that by and by he would have to leave
his throne in heaven and come down and be crucified to
save that same tiresome human race again. The whole of
it? No! A part of it? Yes. Now much of it? In each
generation, for hundreds and hundreds of generations, a
billion would die and all go to perdition except perhaps ten
thousand out of the billion. The ten thousand would have
to come from the little body of Christians, and only one in
the hundred of that little body would stand any chance.
None of them at all except such Roman Catholics as
should have the luck to have a priest handy to sandpaper
their souls at the last gasp, and here and there a
presbyterian. No others savable. All the others damned.
By the million.
Shall you grant that he foresaw all this? The pulpit grants
it. It is the same as granting that in the matter of intellect
the Deity is the Head Pauper of the Universe, and that in
the matter of morals and character he is away down on
the level of David.
The two Testaments are interesting, each in its own way.
The Old one gives us a picture of these people's Deity as
he was before he got religion, the other one gives us a
picture of him as he appeared afterward. The Old
Testament is interested mainly in blood and sensuality. The
New one in Salvation. Salvation by fire.
The first time the Deity came down to earth, he brought life
and death; when he came the second time, he brought hell.
Life was not a valuable gift, but death was. Life was a feverdream
made up of joys embittered by sorrows, pleasure
poisoned by pain, a dream that was a nightmare-confusion
of spasmodic and fleeting delights, ecstasies, exultations,
happinesses, interspersed with long-drawn miseries, griefs,
perils, horrors, disappointments, defeats, humiliations, and
despairs -- the heaviest curse devisable by divine ingenuity;
but death was sweet, death was gentle, death was kind;
death healed the bruised spirit and the broken heart, and
gave them rest and forgetfulness; death was man's best
friend; when man could endure life no longer, death came
and set him free.
In time, the Deity perceived that death was a mistake; a
mistake, in that it was insufficient; insufficient, for the reason
that while it was an admirable agent for the inflicting of
misery upon the survivor, it allowed the dead person himself
to escape from all further persecution in the blessed refuge
of the grave. This was not satisfactory. A way must be
conceived to pursue the dead beyond the tomb.
The Deity pondered this matter during four thousand years
unsuccessfully, but as soon as he came down to earth and
became a Christian his mind cleared and he knew what to
do. He invented hell, and proclaimed it.
Now here is a curious thing. It is believed by everybody that
while he was in heaven he was stern, hard, resentful,
jealous, and cruel; but that when he came down to earth
and assumed the name Jesus Christ, he became the
opposite of what he was before: that is to say, he became
sweet, and gentle, merciful, forgiving, and all harshness
disappeared from his nature and a deep and yearning love
for his poor human children took its place. Whereas it was
as Jesus Christ that he devised hell and proclaimed it!
Which is to say, that as the meek and gentle Savior he was
a thousand billion times crueler than ever he was in the Old
Testament -- oh, incomparably more atrocious than ever he
was when he was at the very worst in those old days!
Meek and gentle? By and by we will examine this popular
sarcasm by the light of the hell which he invented.
While it is true that the palm for malignity must be granted to
Jesus, the inventor of hell, he was hard and ungentle
enough for all godlike purposes even before he became a
Christian. It does not appear that he ever stopped to
reflect that he was to blame when a man went wrong,
inasmuch as the man was merely acting in accordance
with the disposition he had afflicted him with. No, he
punished the man, instead of punishing himself. Moreover,
the punishment usually oversized the offense. Often, too,
it fell, not upon the doer of a misdeed, but upon somebody
else -- a chief man, the head of a community, for instance.
And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began
to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.
And the Lord said unto Moses, Take all the heads
of the people, and hang them up before the Lord
against the Sun, that the fierce anger of the Lord
may be turned away from Israel.
Does that look fair to you? It does not appear that the
"heads of the people" got any of the adultery, yet it is they
that are hanged, instead of "the people."
If it was fair and right in that day it would be fair and right
today, for the pulpit maintains that God's justice is eternal
and unchangeable; also that he is the Fountain of Morals,
and that his morals are eternal and unchangeable. Very
well, then, we must believe that if the people of New York
should begin to commit whoredom with the daughters of
New Jersey, it would be fair and right to set up a gallows
in front of the city hall and hang the mayor and the sheriff
and the judges and the archbishop on it, although they did
not get any of it. It does not look right to me.
Moreover, you may be quite sure of one thing: it couldn't
happen. These people would not allow it. They are better
than their Bible. Nothing would happen here, except some
lawsuits, for damages, if the incident couldn't be hushed
up; and even down South they would not proceed against
persons who did not get any of it; they would get a rope
and hunt for the correspondents, and if they couldn't find
them they would lynch a nigger.
Things have greatly improved since the Almighty's time,
let the pulpit say what it may.
Will you examine the Deity's morals and disposition and
conduct a little further? And will you remember that in the
Sunday school the little children are urged to love the
Almighty, and honor him, and praise him, and make him
their model and try to be as like him as they can? Read:
1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites:
afterward shalt thou be gathered unto thy
7 And they warred against the Midianites, as the
Lord commanded Moses; and they slew all the
8 And they slew the kings of Midian, beside the rest
of them that were slain; namely, Evi, and Rekem,
and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, five kings of Midian:
Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the
9 And the children of Israel took all the women of
Midian captives, and their little ones, and took the
spoil of all their cattle, and all their flocks, and all
10 And they burnt all their cities wherein they dwelt,
and all their goodly castles, with fire.
11 And they took all the spoil, and all the prey, both
of men and of beasts.
12 And they brought the captives, and the prey, and
the spoil unto Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and
unto the congregation of the children of Israel, unto
the camp at the plains of Moab, which are by
Jordan near Jericho.
13 And Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and all the
princes of the congregation, went forth to meet
them without the camp.
14 And Moses was wroth with the officers of the
host, with the captains over thousands, and
captains over hundreds, which came from the battle.
15 And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all
the women alive?
16 Behold, these caused the children of Israel,
through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass
against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and there
was a plague among the congregation of the Lord.
17 Now therefore kill every male among the little
ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by
lying with him.
18 But all the women children, that have not known
a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.
19 And do ye abide without the camp seven days:
whosoever hath killed any person, and whosoever
hath touched any slain, purify both yourselves and
your captives on the third day, and on the seventh
20 And purify all your raiment, and all that is made
of skins, and all work of goats' hair, and all things
made of wood.
21 And Eleazar the priest said unto the men of war
which went to the battle, This is the ordinance of the
law which the Lord commanded Moses....
25 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
26 Take the sum of the prey that was taken, both of
man and of beast, thou, and Eleazar the priest, and
the chief fathers of the congregation:
27 And divide the prey into two parts; between them
that took the war upon them, who went out to battle,
and between all the congregation:
28 And levy a tribute unto the Lord of the men of
war which went out to battle....
31 And Moses and Eleazar the priest did as the
Lord commanded Moses.
32 And the booty, being the rest of the prey which
the men of war had caught, was six hundred
thousand and seventy thousand and five
33 And threescore and twelve thousand beeves,
34 And threescore and one thousand asses,
35 And thirty and two thousand persons in all, of
woman that had not known man by lying with
40 And the persons were sixteen thousand; of
which the Lord's tribute was thirty and two
41 And Moses gave the tribute, which was the
Lord's heave offering, unto Eleazar the priest, as
the Lord commanded Moses....
47 Even of the children of Israel's half, Moses took
one portion of fifty, both of man and of beast, and
gave them unto the Levites, which kept the charge
of the tabernacle of the Lord; as the Lord
10 When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight
against it, then proclaim peace unto it....
13 And when the Lord thy God hath delivered it
into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male
thereof with the edge of the sword:
14 But the women, and the little ones, and the
cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil
thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou
shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the
Lord thy God hath given thee.
15 Thus shalt thou do unto all the cities which are
very far off from thee, which are not of the cities of
16 But of the cities of these people, which the
Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance,
thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth:
The Biblical law says: "Thou shalt not kill."
The law of God, planted in the heart of man at his birth,
says: "Thou shalt kill."
The chapter I have quoted shows you that the book statute
is once more a failure. It cannot set aside the more
powerful law of nature.
According to the belief of these people, it was God himself
who said: "Thou shalt not kill."
Then it is plain that he cannot keep his own
He killed all those people -- every male.
They had offended the Deity in some way. We know what
the offense was, without looking; that is to say, we know it
was a trifle; some small thing that no one but a god would
attach any importance to. It is more than likely that a
Midianite had been duplicating the conduct of one Onan,
who was commanded to "go into his brother's wife" -- which
he did; but instead of finishing, "he spilled it on the ground."
The Lord slew Onan for that, for the lord could never abide
indelicacy. The Lord slew Onan, and to this day the
Christian world cannot understand why he stopped with
Onan, instead of slaying all the inhabitants for three
hundred miles around -- they being innocent of offense, and
therefore the very ones he would usually slay. For that had
always been his idea of fair dealing. If he had had a motto, it
would have read, "Let no innocent person escape." You
remember what he did in the time of the flood. There were
multitudes and multitudes of tiny little children, and he knew
they had never done him any harm; but their relations had,
and that was enough for him: he saw the waters rise toward
their screaming lips, he saw the wild terror in their eyes, he
saw that agony of appeal in the mothers' faces which would
have touched any heart but his, but he was after the
guiltless particularly, than he drowned those poor little
And you will remember that in the case of Adam's posterity
all the billions are innocent -- none of them had a share in
his offense, but the Deity holds them guilty to this day. None
gets off, except by acknowledging that guilt -- no cheaper lie
Some Midianite must have repeated Onan's act, and
brought that dire disaster upon his nation. If that was not the
indelicacy that outraged the feelings of the Deity, then I
know what it was: some Midianite had been pissing against
the wall. I am sure of it, for that was an impropriety which
the Source of all Etiquette never could stand. A person
could piss against a tree, he could piss on his mother, he
could piss on his own breeches, and get off, but he must not
piss against the wall -- that would be going quite too far.
The origin of the divine prejudice against this humble crime
is not stated; but we know that the prejudice was very
strong -- so strong that nothing but a wholesale massacre of
the people inhabiting the region where the wall was defiled
could satisfy the Deity.
Take the case of Jeroboam. "I will cut off from Jeroboam
him that pisseth against the wall." It was done. And not only
was the man that did it cut off, but everybody else.
The same with the house of Baasha: everybody was
exterminated, kinsfolks, friends, and all, leaving "not one
that pisseth against a wall."
In the case of Jeroboam you have a striking instance of the
Deity's custom of not limiting his punishments to the guilty;
the innocent are included. Even the "remnant" of that
unhappy house was removed, even "as a man taketh away
dung, till it be all gone." That includes the women, the
young maids, and the little girls. All innocent, for they
couldn't piss against a wall. Nobody of that sex can. None
but members of the other sex can achieve that feat.
A curious prejudice. And it still exists. Protestant parents
still keep the Bible handy in the house, so that the children
can study it, and one of the first things the little boys and
girls learn is to be righteous and holy and not piss against
the wall. They study those passages more than they study
any others, except those which incite to masturbation.
Those they hunt out and study in private. No Protestant
child exists who does not masturbate. That art is the
earliest accomplishment his religion confers upon him.
Also the earliest her religion confers upon her.
The Bible has this advantage over all other books that
teach refinement and good manners: that it goes to the
child. It goes to the mind at its most impressible and
receptive age -- the others have to wait.
"Thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and
it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad,
thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and
cover that which cometh from thee."
That rule was made in the old days because "The Lord thy
God walketh in the midst of thy camp."
It is probably not worthwhile to try to find out, for certain,
why the Midianites were exterminated. We can only be
sure that it was for no large offense; for the cases of Adam,
and the Flood, and the defilers of the wall teach us that
much. A Midianite may have left his paddle at home and
thus brought on the trouble. However, it is no matter. The
main thing is the trouble itself, and the morals of one kind
and another that it offers for the instruction and elevation
of the Christian of today.
God wrote upon the tables of stone: "Thou shalt not kill,"
Also: "Thou shalt not commit adultery."
Paul, speaking by the divine voice, advised against sexual
intercourse altogether. A great change from the divine
view as it existed at the time of the Midianite incident.
Human history in all ages is red with blood, and bitter with
hate, and stained with cruelties; but not since Biblical
times have these features been without a limit of some
kind. Even the Church, which is credited with having spilt
more innocent blood, since the beginning of its supremacy,
than all the political wars put together have spilt, has
observed a limit. A sort of limit. But you notice that when
the Lord God of Heaven and Earth, adored Father of Man,
goes to war, there is no limit. He is totally without mercy --
he, who is called the Fountain of Mercy. He slays, slays,
slays! All the men, all the beasts, all the boys, all the babies;
also all the women and all the girls, except those that have
not been deflowered.
He makes no distinction between innocent and guilty. The
babies were innocent, the beasts were innocent, many of
the men, many of the women, many of the boys, many of
the girls were innocent, yet they had to suffer with the guilty.
What the insane Father required was blood and misery; he
was indifferent as to who furnished it.
The heaviest punishment of all was meted out to persons
who could not by any possibility have deserved so horrible a
fate -- the 32,000 virgins. Their naked privacies were
probed, to make sure that they still possessed the hymen
unruptured; after this humiliation they were sent away from
the land that had been their home, to be sold into slavery;
the worst of slaveries and the shamefulest, the slavery of
prostitution; bed-slavery, to excite lust, and satisfy it with
their bodies; slavery to any buyer, be he gentleman or be he
a coarse and filthy ruffian.
It was the Father that inflicted this ferocious and
undeserved punishment upon those bereaved and
friendless virgins, whose parents and kindred he had
slaughtered before their eyes. And were they praying to him
for pity and rescue, meantime? Without a doubt of it.
These virgins were "spoil" plunder, booty. He claimed his
share and got it. What use had he for virgins? Examine his
later history and you will know.
His priests got a share of the virgins, too. What use could
priests make of virgins? The private history of the Roman
Catholic confessional can answer that question for you. The
confessional's chief amusement has been seduction -- in all
the ages of the Church. Père Hyacinth testifies that of a
hundred priests confessed by him, ninety-nine had used the
confessional effectively for the seduction of married women
and young girls. One priest confessed that of nine hundred
girls and women whom he had served as father and
confessor in his time, none had escaped his lecherous
embrace but the elderly and the homely. The official list of
questions which the priest is required to ask will
overmasteringly excite any woman who is not a paralytic.
There is nothing in either savage or civilized history that is
more utterly complete, more remorselessly sweeping, than
the Father of Mercy's campaign among the Midianites. The
official report does not furnish the incidents, episodes, and
minor details, it deals only in information in masses: all the
virgins, all the men, all the babies, all "creatures that
breathe," all houses, all cities; it gives you just one vast
picture, spread abroad here and there and yonder, as far as
eye can reach, of charred ruin and storm-swept desolation;
your imagination adds a brooding stillness, an awful hush
-- the hush of death. But of course there were incidents.
Where shall we get them?
Out of history of yesterday's date. Out of history made by
the red Indian of America. He has duplicated God's work,
and done it in the very spirit of God. In 1862 the Indians in
Minnesota, having been deeply wronged and
treacherously treated by the government of the United
States, rose against the white settlers and massacred
them; massacred all they could lay their hands upon,
sparing neither age nor sex. Consider this incident:
Twelve Indians broke into a farmhouse at daybreak and
captured the family. It consisted of the farmer and his wife
and four daughters, the youngest aged fourteen and the
eldest eighteen. They crucified the parents; that is to say,
they stood them stark naked against the wall of the living
room and nailed their hands to the wall. Then they
stripped the daughters bare, stretched them upon the floor
in front of their parents, and repeatedly ravished them.
Finally they crucified the girls against the wall opposite this
parents, and cut off their noses and their breasts. They
also -- but I will not go into that. There is a limit. There are
indignities so atrocious that the pen cannot write them.
One member of that poor crucified family -- the father --
was still alive when help came two days later.
Now you have one incident of the Minnesota massacre. I
could give you fifty. They would cover all the different
kinds of cruelty the brutal human talent has ever invented.
And now you know, by these sure indications, what
happened under the personal direction of the Father of
Mercies in his Midianite campaign. The Minnesota
campaign was merely a duplicate of the Midianite raid.
Nothing happened in the one that didn't happen in the
No, that is not strictly true. The Indian was more merciful
than was the Father of Mercies. He sold no virgins into
slavery to minister to the lusts of the murderers of their
kindred while their sad lives might last; he raped them,
then charitably made their subsequent sufferings brief,
ending them with the precious gift of death. He burned
some of the houses, but not all of them. He carried out
innocent dumb brutes, but he took the lives of none.
Would you expect this same conscienceless God, this
moral bankrupt, to become a teacher of morals; of
gentleness; of meekness; of righteousness; of purity? It
looks impossible, extravagant; but listen to him. These are
his own words:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the
kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after
righteousness, for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be
called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for
righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and
persecute you, and say all manner of evil against
you falsely, for my sake.
The mouth that uttered these immense sarcasms, these
giant hypocrisies, is the very same that ordered the
wholesale massacre of the Midianitish men and babies and
cattle; the wholesale destruction of house and city; the
wholesale banishment of the virgins into a filthy and
unspeakable slavery. This is the same person who brought
upon the Midianites the fiendish cruelties which were
repeated by the red Indians, detail by detail, in Minnesota
eighteen centuries later. The Midianite episode filled him
with joy. So did the Minnesota one, or he would have
The Beatitudes and the quoted chapters from Numbers and
Deuteronomy ought always to be read from the pulpit
together; then the congregation would get an all-round view
of Our Father in Heaven. Yet not in a single instance have I
ever known a clergyman to do this.
*NOTE: It takes the light of the nearest star (61 Cygni)
three and a half years to come to the earth, traveling at
the rate of 186,000 miles per second. Arcturus had been
shining 200 years before it was visible from the earth.
Remoter stars gradually became visible after thousands
and thousands of years. -- The Editor [M. T.]
*NOTE: In the Sandwich Islands in 1866 a buxom royal
princess died. Occupying a place of distinguished honor
at her funeral were thirty-six splendidly built young native
men. In a laudatory song which celebrated the various
merits, achievements and accomplishments of the late
princess those thirty-six stallions were called her harem,
and the song said it had been her pride and boast that
she kept the whole of them busy, and that several times it
had happened that more than one of them had been able
to charge overtime. [M.T.]
*NOTE: I purpose publishing these Letters here in the
world before I return to you. Two editions. One, unedited,
for Bible readers and their children; the other, expurgated,
for persons of refinement. [M.T.]