Page:Did Charles Bradlaugh die an atheist.djvu/8

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Did Charles Bradlaugh Die an Atheist?

changed his opinions. It was in consequence of these rumors that he wrote the following explicit declaration:

"From the beginning of 1855, until the beginning of 1868, all my lecturing and writing were done under the name Iconoclast, which name was adopted after I left the 7th Dragoon Guards, because I was then earning a scanty livelihood as a clerk, and lecturing in my own name would have involved my loss of employment. It was in 1855 that I first spoke as a received Freethought advocate, in the old John Street Hall, and in the old Hall of Science. I had previously spoken in various small halls, more frequently in a small hall at the corner of Philpot Street, Commercial Road, than in any other—oftener as a debater than as a lecturer. Philpot Street and a new hall at the corner of Warner Place, Hackney Road, were, in 1849-50, the scenes of my earliest indoor Freethought speaking. My commencements as a public speaker were, before this, on the mounds of earth in the famous Bonner's Fields. At the time of my enlistment in 1850, I was probably still a Theist, but had not very carefully reasoned out my attitude. On revelation I had done much more exact work for and against. In 1849 I had debated the inspiration of the Bible with James Savage, and I have still a MS. book of that year in my library containing an attempted examination of the four gospels in comparative columns. In 1850 I made my appearance in type, in prose and in verse; of the latter, so far as I am aware, no traces remain. I fear that I was hardly a poet.

"The three years break from public advocacy, spent by me in the army, was very useful in compelling me to think out my new views by myself. From 1854 to the present time, whilst I hope there has been improvement in manner of advocacy, there has been, so far as I am conscious, no material change in the propositions advocated. In 1855-6 I was much influenced by the glimpse of the Ethics of Spinoza first presented by George Henry Lewes, and a great deal of my advocacy shows traces of this influence. For thirty-six years my position has been atheistic, and I am totally unaware of any foundation for the rumors, recently very industriously circulated, alleging modification by me of these views. My position has always been that the word 'God' is either undefined, or that the attempted definitions are self-contradictory, or incoherent. In mythic presentments, as in the Vedic hymns, in the Old and New Testaments, in the Greek and Egyptian traditions, there is enough to warrant absolute denial of the possibility of the Indra, the Aleim, the Ieue, the triune Jesus, the Jupiter, the Osiris, except as myth or legend. I am essentially a Monist: to me