WHEN Little, Brown and Company brought the circulation of this manuscript to a happy end, it had been declined by several publishers, three firms having rejected it twice. It is thus that I have come to know certain publishers well enough to reveal a few intimate matters that have been involved in its publication and that may be of interest to the reader.
Let me begin by saying that editorial readers have been unanimous in thinking that, as a publishing venture, the original manuscript of this book was too long, and overwritten in certain areas. On request I twice tried to reduce it to 'reasonable proportions,' which accounts for two of the double rejections. The third double rejection meant less effort to me: the manuscript was returned in 24 hours by a reader who apparently judged it by weight; the editor asked to have it back again, only to affirm, after reading it in extenso, the quicker method.
Friends advised me that I should utilize the services of an agent, that an agent could do things with publishers that an author could not. However, I have never had an agent. I was too naïve when I wrote Kamongo (1932), my first nontechnical work, to use an agent, and I mailed the manuscript personally to Mr. Alfred A. Knopf, who personally declined it because, he said, he was afraid that it would fall between two stools, being neither science nor fiction. I remailed it to the Viking Press, and when they accepted it I naturally thought that relatively young firm was undoubtedly the most liberal and forward-looking publishing house in the country. Nor did I have any reason to change this opinion when Kamongo was knighted by the Book-of-the-Month Club, republished in England, translated into the Scandinavian, recorded among the 'Records for the Blind,' and sainted by Alexander Woollcott by inclusion in his first Reader; or when, finally, and to me, most surprisingly, it was chosen in World War II for the Pocket Overseas Editions for the Armed Forces. Here Kamongo might have come to rest but for the fact that sixteen years after it had been published, eighteen years after it had been written, the Natural History Book Club made it one of their monthly selections. Republication meant resetting the book because it had long been out of print and the plates had contributed their share to winning World War II during the metal shortage of 1943-1944. If Kamongo was to receive the distinction of being disinterred from the out-of-print category in order to be republished as a book club selection, I was determined to have the unique opportunity of rewriting it. Few books have been rewritten after eighteen years, and few authors have had the opportunity to correct their early efforts in the light of later literary perspective. Mr. Best, of Viking Press, at first balked on the grounds that the book had to go to the printer at once, but he finally granted me the entire week end for revision. Accordingly, between a Friday evening and Monday morning I made what seemed to me to be desirable changes: chiefly, in the latter part of the book I stopped Joel from talking so much and gave the Padre more to say, corrections which in my opinion make the revised edition better than the first. I made a number of outright deletions, however, showing that reduction is sometimes spontaneous. And Kamongo in the original was a very short book.
The existence of a manuscript becomes known by word of mouth: publishers with whom I was unacquainted wrote to say that they had heard that I had a nontechnical work in preparation and if it was not obligated they would be happy to have an opportunity to read it. In view of the fact that the examination of a manuscript entails some cost for either intra- or extramural readers, these unsolicited inquiries encouraged me to believe that sometime it would find a publisher who wanted a long book. Consequently it seemed to me only a matter of slight additional expense when, at their invitation, I shipped the bulky package to Little, Brown and Company.
Inevitably, Little, Brown found it overwritten in places and, in all, too long for a reasonable publishing adventure. By my count it then contained 250,000 words, having been reduced at the suggestion of other publishers from some 275,000. I said firmly that I had hacked at it until it was showing obvious signs of mutilation and I refused to touch it again until the publisher signed on the dotted line. The contract being duly signed, I agreed to cut the book by 25,000 words while making some slight additions which Little, Brown's readers thought would improve it. This I did, but the additions amounted to more than the 25,000 words I deleted so that in the end, Little, Brown were forced to cut the manuscript themselves.
It is an optimistic publisher who expects an author to cut his own manuscript for commercial or any other reasons. After the first lines have been written a literary work develops in the manner of a musical composition: at an early and tentative stage each theme can be reshaped and shortened, or brought to an abrupt end; but after the whole has been completed every passage, no matter how overdeveloped in detail, seems to the author to be integral to the whole. He has, in fact, memorized the completed work and he cannot see the separate passages as separate passages, only the whole in which every passage now seems necessary; and if he ventures any changes it will probably be to alter the fine structure, or worse, to add new detail in areas now discovered to be deficient. Reduction is made still more difficult by the half-conscious memory of the hours, sometimes days, spent in capturing a seemingly trivial sequence, and it is too much to expect of any man that he negate hours of labor with a quick stroke of the blue pencil. I say, so it seems to the author, because in fact most manuscripts, like most musical compositions, can be cut by someone else without serious injury. To the end of crowding forty or fifty minutes of music into the thirty-three minutes of tape available on one spool on my tape recorder, I have discovered that many composers whose works at unrestricted hearing seem to have perfect proportions indulged in repetitiousness and overelaboration, and that the careful use of the scissors can bring Beethoven's Third Symphony or Violin Concerto in D, Brahm's Second Piano Concerto or his First Symphony, within what are, for me, mechanically practical limits. Certainly any author in his right mind must grant his publishers the same privilege. I congratulate Little, Brown and Company on their success at making deletions in this book at just the proper moments.
The original manuscript was overwritten in consequence of a variety of circumstances. In the technical sense, it was begun in the summer of 1933, in the spirit of Aristotle's aphorism that 'He who sees things grow from the beginning will have the best view of them.' It grew Topsy-wise, expanding each successive summer and, at rare intervals, in winter when time could be stolen from other responsibilities, with no conception of limit or final objective. It was never intended to be a technical reference work, but a simple story of man's changing ideas about himself and his place in nature -- such a story as I would have liked to read forty years ago. It started with an annotated bibliography; then the inclusion of bibliographic references to certify each point so cramped its style that the annotation grew less and less frequent until, during the busy war years, any hope of an annotated bibliography had to be abandoned. An enforced vacation issuing from an abscessed jaw in the summer of 1945 presented the opportunity to finish off the last chapter by force, as it were, lest it go on growing forever. It could have done almost that: its thesis, even if handled with greater economy, could scarcely be encompassed between two covers. Readers have criticized it for omitting Oriental philosophy, medieval politics, the impact of the machine age; for not discussing at greater length the development (and the defeats) of rationalism and science and naturalistic philosophy; because it dealt in such detail with Darwin, and wholly ignored Marx, Wagner, Nietzsche and Freud; for stopping short at the end of the nineteenth century. There are answers to all those criticisms, but the best answer of all is the one given by the rug weaver to his friendly kibitzers, "But this is to be only a little rug."
The author is not a historian or philosopher by training, although he once contributed a chapter on the history of physiology to Dr. Joseph Jastrow's The Story of Human Error, which was a good title. He started out to be a chemist, then switched to physiology, the study of living organisms and how they work, and for twenty years he has concentrated on the kidneys and urine formation -- far from being a dull subject, it is one of the most exciting, fascinating and rewarding areas in biological science. This is not the place to defend the foregoing assertion, or to defend his competence to deal with history or philosophy, except by way of quoting the Arab Mira Jama (in Isak Dinesen's Seven Gothic Tales): "What is man, when you come to think upon him, but a minutely set, ingenious machine for turning, with infinite artfulness, the red wine of Shiraz into urine?" Any deficit in discipline is in part compensated by a novelty in point of view: most historians and philosophers lack the advantage of a biologist's or physiologist's intimate acquaintance with man's inner workings.
The point is an important one, and invites a fragment of autobiography.
I was the last of six children -- my father was forty-five, my mother forty-two, when I was born -- and separated by seven years from my youngest sister, data that are pertinent chiefly to the circumstance that I grew up in the company of siblings much older than myself. Of more immediate significance is the fact that when I learned to talk I turned my r's into l's, and consequently, to the amusement of all visitors, "The lat Ian lound the loom." There is no evidence that I ever showed any tendency to left-handedness, and I believe that I am intrinsically right-handed, but in any case by the age of five or thereabouts I began to stutter and thereafter all my efforts at speech culminated only in a series of painful lingual paralyses, broken at interminable intervals by a forcibly ejected word. I continued to stutter until I was thirty years old, but the handicap has long since been mastered and for twenty-five years I have, with few exceptions, faced audiences however large or small with an almost arrogant confidence. But stuttering probably drove me as a child into silence and introspection.
The family fortune, such as it was, had gone in the panic of 1893, and I was born two years later. When I was three years old we moved from Denver to Cripple Creek, the fabulous place that boasted that it was the geographical center of Colorado and the 'Greatest Gold-Mining Camp on Earth.' Located ten miles southwest of Pikes Peak, the District, as it was called, was an ancient volcanic pockmark in the Rampart Range of the Rocky Mountains, its eroded hills ranging from timber line at 10,000 feet to the perpetual snow line at 11,000 feet. Below timber line the mountain had once been covered with yellow and lodgepole pines, red fir, cottonwoods and aspen, and had sheltered silver tip and black bears, elk and deer; the streams had been rich with rainbow trout. However, by 1905, when I was ten years old and interested in these things, the great mines, the Portland, Elkton, Independence, Vindicator, Hall City and Sacramento, were in operation and gold production had risen to $15,000,000 a year. The mountainsides had been pitted with open mines or deep shafts from the mouths of which vast dumps of granite, dug from miles of underground workings -- the Portland alone had more than 25 miles of tunnels above the 1100-foot level -- fell away in gray-white cones into the valleys, in some places spilling across the sidewalks. For every big mine there were a hundred little ones, many of them long since abandoned. It would be hard to say whether the scene was terrifying, bizarre, or just plain ugly.
The houses in Cripple Creek ranged from unpainted pine shacks, usually covered against the rigors of winter with black tar paper, to mansions of brick, or white or yellow clapboard. Only a few persons boasted a lawn because nearly all newly turned ground was composed of sterile, decayed granite that would not support a blade of grass. The streets everywhere were dirt roads rutted by wagon tracks, the sidewalks whatever hard-packed trails might be left between the wagon tracks and the wavering property lines. The main business street, Bennett Avenue, consisted of a few blocks of two-story brick buildings, some of them pretending by a false front to be half a story higher, with uneven flagstones or more generally boards for sidewalks. There were, I would think, at least one dance hall and three saloons to a block on either side of Bennett Avenue, and I can remember Carry Nation breaking the plate-glass window in several of the latter. The era was before drinking in the home became widespread, and the saloon was where men went to escape life, or to engage it, under the blessed levitation of alcohol. My father rarely drank, but my brother stoutly defended his right to "go to town" on Saturday night. However, I never knew him to be drunk.
Violence was basically foreign to Cripple Creek, despite the fact that the District had seen violence in the labor strikes of 1894 and 1903-1904. Historians of the labor movement record the latter as one of the most arbitrary and unjustified applications of power in the history of trade unionism. The Western Federation of Miners had attempted to organize the refining mills at Colorado City and, failing in only one mill, had called nine men out on strike. When the mill continued to operate, the union called out all its members in the entire District, intending to force the issue by shutting down the supply of ore to all the Colorado City mills, although thousands of men in the District had no grievance against the mine owners and were opposed to the strike. But they were forced to lay down their tools. In the ensuing friction union pickets resorted to force, and one episode led to another until union agitators, imported for the purpose, were fighting the mine owners, independent operators, innumerable deputy sheriffs and finally state troops with violence and dynamite. It was then that antiunion men got out their guns, and for months my father and brother went about with six-shooters strapped on their hips.
This labor crisis was, however, an exception that proved the rule. Men gambled on long odds, sank their money into the ground to lose it, followed a hunch on borrowed money to turn up a seam worth millions. Six days a week they crowded, ten or more on each platform of a double-decker stage, to be lowered a thousand feet into the earth, and rode ore cars through miles of lateral tunnels to reach the workings where they drilled, blasted and shoveled out the gold-bearing rock. Pay dirt began with stuff that assayed only $50 a ton, and under favorable conditions two men could blast and cart out a ton in an ordinary working day; but a really rich strike might bring $100 a pound and large-sized pockets of almost pure gold were known. It was a gambler's paradise. The priceless thing about it was that what a man earned was his, and if he wanted to gamble it on digging another hole in the already pock-marked earth, that was his God-given privilege. Or he could damn well take the Short Line over the hill and go back to his farm in Missouri. Uneducated laborers, chemists, mining engineers, professional gamblers, guys with divining rods, ignoramuses who mistook iron pyrites, fool's gold, for the real stuff, wiseacres who had made and lost several fortunes, all had one golden rule: you let me alone and I'll let you alone. As a gesture to prudence we locked the door when we left home, but we put the key under the mat, as everyone else did. Violence was abhorrent to Cripple Creek, and the labor agitators, because of their use of it as much as because of the unfairness of the strike, were as popular as Carry Nation. For nearly a year the District was, by proclamation of the governor, in 'a state of insurrection and rebellion' and the end result was that large numbers of union sympathizers were thrown into the 'bull pen' and subsequently 'ridden out of town' -- forcibly deported to Kansas or New Mexico and told never to come back. The Western Federation of Miners sowed class consciousness in a community where class consciousness did not exist, and it rose up and destroyed them. Thereafter to be identified with a union was to be branded as an anarchist, and from 1904 until I left it in 1910, Cripple Creek was a one-class town.
It seems something of a paradox that a mushroom mining camp, typical of its kind in respect to its large floating population, its saloons and less respectable dives -- Cripple Creek boasted the largest number of cribs per capita of any town in Colorado -- should afford a superior opportunity for primary and secondary education. Progressive schools had not yet been invented, or if they had, we did not have them. We went to school to learn in the old-fashioned sense. However, for youngsters the cultural atmosphere of Cripple Creek was a mixed blessing. In winter, when we were in school, we were occupied by school activities and the requirements of homework, with some snowballing and sledding to relieve the monotony of daily chores, and in the spring and fall, when the ground was bare of snow, there would be an hour of twilight for games before study. But as the days lengthened, and particularly when school came to an end, the streets and empty lots, in all their dusty, weedy barrenness, the hills with their abandoned, dangerous, open-mouthed shafts, received us.
My mother died when I was nearly seven, after a protracted period of invalidism. I have no recollection of her although I can remember that during this period I slept alone in a large tent in the yard -- it was in midwinter -- and that in the early morning my father would wrap me in warm blankets and carry me into the house. After my mother's death there were left six children, myself, aged seven; Alice, fourteen; Helen, seventeen; Harry, nineteen; Margaret, twenty-one; and Alberta, twenty-six. Some neighbors offered to divide us but the family, after lengthy deliberation, decided to stick it out together.
The family was, in a manner of speaking, a clan of intellectual snobs who emphasized three things: you can be clean, you can hold your own, and you can be educated. When my education began, the rest of the family were in a position to be very superior about theirs and yet to imply that I carried their reputation on my shoulders. I did not particularly want to be educated but I was, in effect, scared into a middling performance. At home, when I had nothing to do, I was supposed to be reading. My juvenile literary consumption included Black Beauty, At the Back of the North Wind, Wild Animals I Have Known, The Girl of the Limberlost (with whom I fell in love), The Little Colonel and numerous others long since forgotten. I was not supposed to read dime novels; most of the other boys had them, with or without parental approval, and I remember their lurid covers, but I do not remember reading any of them. I think they bored me. With apologies to Little, Brown and Company (to whom Louisa May Alcott had much the same relation as oil to Mr. Rockefeller), neither did I like Little Women and its companion volumes. Juvenile fiction was abandoned when, under the tree on Christmas just preceding my ninth birthday, I received a book, title now unknown, on chemical experimentation. I read it in bed before breakfast. It told how to do everything, how to make gunpowder and aqua regia (which would dissolve platinum) and hydrofluoric acid (which would dissolve glass and had to be kept in wax bottles); how to make black powder, gun cotton, dynamite, mercury fulminate (the highly explosive detonator used in the center of gun shells); how to dye fabrics; how to make colorless water turn blood-red and then turn colorless again. At least I think that all these things were in the same book. I am slightly confused because there were several books of this nature, including a biography of Thomas Alva Edison with a frontispiece, in color, of the great inventor, his apron and hands besmeared by half a dozen aniline dyes; and yet another: a dog-eared, coverless volume of yellowed pages, dating probably from the '70's or '80's, and containing, as I judge now, rather more alchemical mystery than verifiable science but nonetheless expounding, within the limits of the author's wisdom, which seemed unlimited, the answers to everything from thunder and lightning to the fermentation of malt and the distillation of spirits.
Then, as the seeds of this literature were germinating in the spring of my eleventh year (six weeks before school was out), I came down with measles. After weeks in a darkened bedroom, I became aware of strange voices and the noises of sawing and hammering in the back yard. The family, forced to offer some explanation, said that my father was building a chicken house. When the great day came that I could get out of bed, the chicken house was, of course, what I wanted to see first. But there were no chickens. It was an unfinished one-room shed of pine, on the east side of the yard, opposite the sweet peas, perhaps 8 X 12 feet, with two steps and a four-inch stove pipe sticking out of the peaked roof, and a window in the north end. Inside I can still smell stove polish mixed with the fragrant odor of pine shavings. Along one wall were a heavy workbench with a carpenter's vise, a toolbox with saw, plane, hammer, square, and chisels. A little potbellied stove stood at one end in front of the window, and along the other wall was a pile of pine boards. There had not been time to sweep up the curled shavings left by the carpenter, and they supplied the kindling for my first fire. My father had decided that the time had come to get me off the streets, and the entire family had probably decided that the time had come to get me out of the house. I was beginning to clutter the place with retorts and crucibles.
My world had been given to me. I never learned to saw a board straight, either cross-grained or lengthwise, and I abandoned the toolbox as soon as I had erected shelves on all four walls and put up a couple of cabinets. I set up an alcohol-heated, stationary steam engine that had come as a Christmas present, and in subsequent years it never once let me down by failing to operate. I installed a hand-operated vacuum pump and bell jar that I acquired heaven knows where, and demonstrated how a lighted candle beneath the jar grew feeble and slowly died as the air was evacuated. I demonstrated to my satisfaction, and to the satisfaction of a few visitors, that, as the book said, a mouse did the same thing under the same conditions. When electricity came our way, I helped install the wires and hung a 16-candle-power carbon-filament lamp square in the middle of the room. I lacked either the aesthetic vision or the necessary permission to put in two outlets or a table lamp, but I was not outclassed by the professional electricians of the age, who thought that one naked, glaring bulb in the middle of the room was the hallmark of the Electrical Era.
I collected minerals, gold, silver and copper ores, turquoise, feldspar, asbestos, garnets, amethysts, tourmaline; and then, inevitably, butterflies, and moths (with a backward thought towards the girl of the Limberlost). I once thought of going into taxidermy and set out over the hills with a .22 rifle to kill my specimens for myself but when I shot my first bird I was so hurt that I buried it in the woods.
It was never called anything but my 'shop.' It was my sanctum sanctorum and none of the family ever came into it unless invited. It gave me a privileged position because, apart from the electric light, the stove, the tools that had now grown rusty, the steam engine, and the vacuum pump, it permitted me to accumulate miscellaneous riches that would be the envy of any boy. The 'book' contained instructions on how to make a telegraph key and sounder, and zinc-copper sulfate wet batteries; and a telegraph set was fabricated (to be replaced later by commercial instruments) and a single wire strung on the telephone (or it may have been electric light) poles for nearly three blocks to the home of a friend. We laboriously spelled out the latest news in the Morse code at least once a day until open communication palled and then we spelled everything in a concealed code just in case the wire should be tapped.
Now the family began to have cause to regret the Christmas of 1903, when they had given me the books on chemistry. In those days a knowledgeable boy of eleven could buy anything he wanted at the drugstore, from arsenic to saltpeter, and my dimes began to go into chemical experiments. Homemade gun cotton reposed casually in my trousers pocket; black powder could be compounded at any time from stock reagents on the shelves; turning water into blood by pouring it from one beaker to another, and vice versa, was kid stuff; and nitric acid stained my fingers until I looked, rather proudly, like Edison. As a matter of courtesy I was taking the warts off my friends' hands by the judicious application of a drop of that fuming corrosive. Since no laboratory science was then taught in the public grade schools, I was the object of the rather skeptical envy of the classmates who visited the shop. Most of them were scared of gun cotton and dynamite, and had never even heard of nitric acid. No doubt I seemed queer to many of them, who possibly looked at me askance because of my stuttering and, when I could talk, probably could not understand what I was talking about.
I have no idea where I got it, possibly from Dr. King, the family physician, but shortly the choice piece of apparatus in the shop came to be a Wimshurst machine for generating static electricity. In dry weather and under the application of sufficient muscular energy to the driving gear, fat, noisy, two-inch sparks discharged between the brass ball electrodes and filled the room with the odor of ozone. My machine generated only some 15,000 or 20,000 electron volts, but this was a miniature lightning storm that terrified the uninitiated, and was powerful enough to ignite gun cotton and alcohol, to puncture holes in cardboard or to fragment a piece of thin glass. I did not have imagination enough to dream that one day, with 10 billion electron-volt machines, men would split atoms into smithereens and manufacture new elements even more unstable than radium (I had a small piece of pitchblende from the Colorado lode and had repeated Becquerel's experiment of making a radioautograph on a paper-covered film), but the Atomic Energy Commission has not had any more fun, or enjoyed any greater local prestige, than I did when the thunder and lightning were cracking properly.
Along with the static machine came a small X-ray tube which, in conjunction with a fluorescent screen, enabled me to see the bones of the fingers, hand and wrist, the entire skeleton of a mouse. Not many people, however, wanted to see the skeleton of a mouse, or even the bones in their own fingers, but were prepared to take their bones on faith. The X-ray tube led to the construction of a spark coil, because activation of the tube by means of the static machine involved the expenditure of excessive muscular energy on my part and prevented me from looking at the fluorescent screen while I was operating the machine; with a spark coil plugged into the 110 volt A.C. lighting circuit all I had to do was to snap a switch and the X-ray tube was in continuous operation. Then, since any spark coil is an effective generator of radio waves, a friend and I were soon flashing wireless messages to each other, using a primitive iron-filing coherer on the receiving end.
I reached the pinnacle of my electrical engineering efforts when, to supplement the spark coil, I built a three-foot Tesla coil: all over the world audiences have paid admission to see the death-defying, breathtaking performance of the wizard who, with this prop, generates genuine lightning upon the stage and, through a short iron rod, takes its foot-long million-volt (but harmless) flashes into his very body, lights an electric light bulb with the circuit flowing entirely through his arm and causes his gloved fingers to spark at every chair and table, and at any lady or gentleman who will accommodate by volunteering. My homemade Tesla coil worked magnificently and gave off twelve-inch and very noisy flashes of lightning.
I came close to inventing the neon light long before someone else obtained a patent on it; or, more accurately, I foresaw the practical application of what had, for four decades, been an interesting scientific gadget, the Geissler tube. This is a glass tube with electrodes sealed in it at either end, evacuated of air and filled with one or another excitable gas. When activated by a high-voltage, high-frequency current, these tubes emit a soft light of a color characteristic of the gas with which they are filled, and elaborate patterns of color can be obtained by alternating bulbous expansions and narrow constrictions in the tube and by playing changes in the composition of the glass. In a set of Geissler tubes the rainbow has been trapped so that one can hold all its colors between the fingers. I saw how the soft, fluorescent light might be substituted for the glaring carbon-filament lamp, and in my dreams I was sometimes the owner-superintendent and expert electrical engineer of a plant that controlled the patents on this new system of universal lighting. My spare time was used for searching out new inventions in the manner of Thomas Alva Edison, assisted, in the more complicated and delicate operations, by the girl of my dreams.
The girl of the Limberlost had turned into one whose disturbing (but fully clothed) beauty was portrayed in an advertisement that I carried in my wallet. She was also a true helpmeet in every chemical and physical experiment. I was as yet scarcely interested in girls in a practical sort of way -- only on the idealistic level. My two older sisters had married and left home, and I had twice become an embarrassed Uncle Homer by the age of ten. My younger sisters, Helen and Alice, were teaching in the local high school. It was perhaps for this reason that I came by the Geissler tubes and various chemical apparatus and books from Mr. Lory, the high school superintendent. I am on more certain ground in recounting that there was a constant stream of beaux at the house -- it was the Gibson Girl era when women wore shirtwaists of elaborate hand embroidery and spent an hour doing their hair, and men sent them long-stemmed American Beauty roses and five-pound boxes of the most delicious bittersweet chocolate creams, the like of which I have never since tasted. It was one of Helen's beaux who led me into perdition, a newly graduated physician and assistant to Dr. King, named Dr. Brittain. I had long possessed a microscope of the push-pull type, with a box of microscope slides, each holding beneath its circular cover glass a cross section of some plant stem or other specimen appropriately stained with aniline dyes -- the geometric, polychromatic beauty of such preparations has inspired many a modern fabric designer. There was also in the collection, I remember, a perfectly mounted flea, the transparency of which permitted one to see all the vital organs; and I believe the intricate leg and foot of a spider, though I may have made that preparation myself because I obtained microscope slides, cover glasses and oil of balsam from Dr. Brittain and went into microscopy on my own. Having no microtome for making optically thin sections of plants or animal tissues, I had to confine myself to amoebae, paramecia and other water animalcules that could be raised in hay infusions, and hay infusions inevitably led to bacteria. A discarded textbook of bacteriology quickly gave me a bird's-eye view of Pasteur and of pathogenic and nonpathogenic organisms and the elements of their culture, fixation and staining. However, I still suffered the deficit of the incubator that is necessary to propagate some of the more delicate species and shortly test tubes filled with culture media were surreptitiously being incubated in the warming oven over the kitchen range. The family tolerated me until specks of aniline dyes began to appear in the biscuits and apple dumplings and then they served the ultimatum: I and my dangerous bacterial cultures could just damn well get out of the house! Thus, again, I was driven back upon myself. For lack of an incubator, another career was closed to me. When I begged for a culture of tuberculosis and diphtheria, the door of destiny was slammed in my face. I saw that I was not to become a bacteriologist.
I do not recall how the other matter started. Dr. Brittain spent considerable time in the shop, possibly as a blood price because, where others were concerned, I had as yet no understanding of the intricacy of affairs of the heart and I was old enough to be quite a nuisance. I suppose that one question led to another, about the lungs, liver and kidneys, and so on. It was no great passion to know how the insides of an animal worked that led to the dissection of our first cat, but probably mere curiosity on my part and a matter of fair exchange on the part of the doctor. Needless to say, it was in the dark of night, certainly after eight o'clock, when nobody would come nosing in. In a primitive community there are always an abundance of abandoned cats -- the general practice is to drown them but there was no water within miles of Cripple Creek -- so that the cat supply presented no difficulty. Nor was there any difficulty about getting chloroform because by now I could buy almost any article I requested at the drug store, and I was quite frank about the matter because the customary way to dispose of excess cats in Cripple Creek was to chloroform them. I had some scissors and Dr. Brittain supplied a sharp dissecting scalpel and showed me how to make a cardboard anesthetic cone, how to apply it adroitly and firmly to the head that protruded from a hole in the gunny sack, and how to tell by the respiration and heart beat when the cat was quite dead. Then the warm body was explored, its organs identified and their functions expounded. By ten o'clock the remains had been buried in a faraway field, the shop had been scrubbed, the instruments cleaned, the odor of cat and chloroform removed by thorough ventilation, and my colleague in crime had gone into the house to call upon my impatient sister, I to bed to dream of better and better dissections assisted by the girl of the Limberlost. I did not long require Dr. Brittain's professional guidance because I soon learned to handle the scalpel alone. The crisis came when the family discovered, not the bald fact, but that I was using the household's best turkey platter.
When one considers the thousands of cats that are drowned, gassed or otherwise disposed of, the millions of other animals that are slaughtered for commercial markets, shot for sport or exterminated because of their nuisance value, the half dozen or so stray felines that died a quick and painless death in the shop dwindle into the trivial. I am not recommending the exercise as a routine item in secondary education, but it has pedagogical possibilities that exceed the more aesthetic study of bees and flowers. The experience can be likened to Alice's adventure down the rabbit hole; it is not one to be shared by everybody, but to be enjoyed only by those who have something of Alice's curiosity as well as her common-sense approach to things. One simply cannot explore the insides of a cat and emerge with the same naïve philosophy with which one entered the adventure. The experience shatters certain basic premises frequently encountered in the philosophy of existence, and notably the premise that creation is intrinsically anthropocentric. He who has dissected the warm body of a cat emerges a philosophic rebel prepared, like Alice, to denounce the whole pack of cards including the King and Queen of Hearts.
I was not a religious child, nor was I reared in a particularly religious atmosphere. Cripple Creek had its Catholic, Episcopal and sectarian churches, architecturally and dogmatically primitive, where the straight and narrow path was expounded every Sunday, and on a week night the Epworth League held forth with ringing hymns and desultory prayers to complement the Sunday school lessons. I believe that the Epworth League served chiefly as an excuse for the sexes to walk out together, and that it was frequently an outlet for what, in those days, the parson called sinful if natural tendencies. So far as young people were concerned, scarcely more can be said for formal church attendance. There were, of course, among the oldsters many devout persons, but the adjective was certainly not applicable to the bulk of the younger generation, who participated in devotions under the mixed impulsion of convention and for what they could get out of the Sunday gathering as a social opportunity. As an intellectual institution, the church had become the transparent hypocrisy which Emerson had denounced a generation earlier. Occasionally a revivalist, such as Billy Sunday, came to town and stirred the gamblers, the chronic alcoholics, the lonely and weary among the adults, and among the youths those who were torn by an adolescent sense of guilt or sex frustration, into a hymn-singing orgy of repentance; but the sinners who were healed in front of the pulpit generally quickly repented of the healing and were more or less embarrassed for some weeks thereafter. Without statistics I would venture that the Greatest Gold-Mining Camp on Earth lay far north of what Mencken subsequently dubbed the Bible Belt. Religion was something that you took unostentatiously. It had a quaint stigma about it, and the farther you moved away from any public display of religiosity without actually leaving the pale of piety, the better. I am here, of course, expressing an attitude peculiar to the family, and perhaps even within that area rendered somewhat inaccurate by the lapse of time.
Had it been otherwise, however, I think I would remember. My father did not die until I was sixteen, and I have many clear recollections of him. I would say that he was of the generation that had one foot still planted in religious tradition, the other planted in irreligious rationalism; but that in his mind there was no question as to which general direction he, and his children, were going. The only issue was not to hurry the transition, or to be unpleasant about it. He and my mother carried away with them from Maryland five children (I was born in Denver), a "mammy" left over from prewar days, a strong tradition of respectability that was probably enhanced by the seeming uncouthness of the West, a deep sense of the responsibilities of hospitality, and a dedication to the aristocracy of the intellect. The last expression is, however, to be taken modestly. As for the past, his attitude was summed up in the aphorisms, probably dull with age when he was a boy, that we all go back to Adam -- or Cain, and that it did not pay to look too closely at the family tree lest you find somebody hanging from a limb.
The fragmentary records of the family's antecedents never interested me until I undertook to prepare this record. Now, on a hasty search that ends in Virginia, I find little that is exciting, no estimable criminals or even creditable heretics, only prosaic farmers, one of whom, John, with his wife, a Miss Ewell, also from Virginia, abandoned the mainland and took his slaves to the Eastern Shore about the time that Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon established the line at 39° 43' 26".3 N that brought to an end the long controversy between Lord Baltimore and William Penn. How they initially got to Virginia or why they left is not reported. They settled south of the 'line,' in the area where the Catholic Cecilius Calvert, second Lord Baltimore, had passed through the colonial assembly his famous act of religious toleration magnanimously extending freedom of worship to all sects that accepted the Trinity. There the oldest son, my paternal great-grandfather, William Henry Smith, married Hester Smith, also of Virginia, and with her settled in Somerset County on St. Peters Creek, near Princess Anne, at a place initially called Oriole, but which, in the next generation, was subdivided between William's three sons into Keeps Poor Hall, Littleworth Farm and Nicholas Adventure, Littleworth Farm being the home of William's second son, my grandfather. Since all three areas were large and fertile, the names suggest that either William Henry or his sons had a sardonic sense of humor.
William Henry's generation is distinguished by few eccentricities. I find that his wife, Hester, was so excessively neat that she made the children take off their shoes when they played in the house. His sister Mollie married Hester's brother, James Smith, who had a white horse which, when James was full, carried his master home like a bag of potatoes and rolled the load onto the bed before returning to the stable. Of more interest to this book is the fact that my grandfather, William Thomas Smith, married one Henrietta Maria Smith, whose mother, Phillippa, was a character worthy of special mention. Phillippa's grandfather, Edward Martin I, a Huguenot, had emigrated from France to the Scilly Isles early in the eighteenth century to escape the bonfires of Catholic persecution. His son, Edward Martin II, married a Jane Johns of Welsh stock, but then living in Helstone, near Penzance, Cornwall, where the couple settled down and where Phillippa was born in 1786. In 1796, to prevent the conscription of their two eldest sons in the war with France, Edward and Jane emigrated to America and ultimately settled in Alexandria, Virginia. Phillippa was the tenth of twelve children (there had been one set of twins); by the records of St. Sithney's Church, Cornwall, ten of them lived long enough to be baptized in the Church of England, as apparently were most of my other ancestors of the period. One does not, of course, directly inherit one's ancestors' religion, but in subtle ways one does come by their idealisms.
Something of Phillippa's background can be read between the lines of a poem written by her father for her mother on the occasion of their golden anniversary:
My dearest Jane, full fifty-one
It is significant that, although the conventions of St. Sithney's are dutifully observed and that there is one poetic reference to prayer and another to angels, the Deity is nowhere mentioned. It was probably not from her father that Phillippa got religion, but from a chance meeting in the home of her grandfather. Although Edward Martin I was a member of the Established Church, his house was the frequent visiting place of John Wesley, whose evangelism had crossed the Atlantic just a few ships ahead of the Martins. Wesley was then eighty-six years old and, according to his contemporaries, his geniality and friendliness were lighted by the extraordinary happiness in his heart, reflecting 'the gay remembrance of a life well spent.' As recorded in Phillippa's obituary, 'it was on the occasion of the last of Wesley's visits to Cornwall, in 1789 [two years before his death], that Phillippa Martin, then but three years old, looked for the only time, on earth, on this venerable face, and ever treasured the memory of the fact as a precious legacy, to the last hour of her own long life.' Phillippa was ten years old when she was brought to Alexandria, and seventeen years old when a great wave of revivalism swept the shores of the Potomac and swept her into the sectarian movement that, more than any other, weakened the Established Church in Virginia and Maryland. At twenty-two she was united in the bonds of holy wedlock to Samuel Smith, son of Joseph Smith, one of the earliest Methodists in Alexandria, by a Mr. Waters, the first American-born Methodist preacher and the man who had been instrumental in securing her adherence to the sectarian movement.
Phillippa lived to the age of ninety, and the seventy-three years that followed her conversion 'bore joyful testimony to the power of this extraordinary work of grace.' Until her death, she seems to have been an instrument of Methodist piety. Between 1820 to 1822 she and her husband lived at Owensboro, Kentucky, 'where her home was a preaching place, and a place for preachers,' but the chief impact of her conversion was in Virginia, Maryland and the Eastern Shore, and notably in Mencken's town of Baltimore, where she spent the last forty years of her life. She had eight children and 110 descendants, 75 of whom survived her -- Phillippa, 110 times compounded, did the Established Church no favor.
Phillippa's obituary portrays her as a woman with deep convictions, but no bigot. She had a warm heart for every Christian of any communion. She was
gifted with unusual intelligence and with an extraordinary memory; she also possessed the faculty for conversation, which gave a charm to her presence in whatever society she might be found. By no means lacking in spirit which could never brook injustice or meanness, she had acquired such perfect control of her emotions that those who knew her best need only to recur to the occasions in her life which most severely tested her moral character, to recall her patience under sore injury and her cheerfulness in the darkest hours of adversity. She had the happiness of retaining her faculties unimpaired to the last hour of her life. This evening was serene and clear, not a cloud obscured its brightness. Before she departed she was permitted to give her blessing to everyone of her children and to receive from them the grateful tokens of their filial affection. She was ready at any moment when the Master might call, to answer joyfully the summons, but she was not impatient to be gone. The rule of the Lord was her rule, both of duty and endurance. In her reference to her religious experience the 'Atonement' was her chief topic. No occasion during her last illness gratified her more than the administration of the Lord's Supper by her eldest grandson and her pastor, Rev. W. H. Holiday, of Eutaw Church. The very atmosphere seemed charged with divine influence and alive with celestial presences. Her face bore on it the reflection of the upper Sanctuary and her tones of response so soft and low were as though they had caught the sweeter melodies of heaven. To such a life as hers, the last hour was a fitting close. Words that had been the trumpet signal of many a saint before her in the death transition were also hers, "I am walking through the valley of the shadow of death but fear no evil, The Lord is my righteousness and strength, forever ...."
I am glad that by digging into the family archives, I found Phillippa because I cannot help wondering what the consequences might have been if the eighty-six-year-old John Wesley had not perched a three-year-old youngster on his knee; if, as a seventeen-year-old girl she had not been caught in a hysterical revival meeting .... But I have no desire to inquire into antecedents behind Phillippa's grandfather lest I discover some loyalist adding fagots to the fires that burned the Huguenots in Catholic France. My father was right, it is just as well to let the family tree alone.
Despite the fact that during the last forty of her ninety years of life Phillippa lived in Baltimore, my father must have known her; directly or through his mother, Henrietta, he could scarcely have escaped her influence. But when he pulled up the Maryland-Virginia roots to go West, he also in some measure pulled his roots out of Phillippa. In any case, it was an era of transition. John Wesley had contributed in no small measure to the spread of rationalism and free thought and to the ultimate undoing of his own labors when he emphasized the importance of education. It has been said that no man in eighteenth-century England did so much to create a taste for good reading and to supply it with books at the lowest prices (it is reported that the profits from his cheap books enabled him to give away as much as £1400 a year, and he once told his congregation that he would give them every book they read up to the value of £5). Perhaps it was because of Phillippa that my father referred nostalgically to the 'books' at Littleworth Farm, some of which must have been carried by John and his wife across the Chesapeake Bay, but all of which had long since been dispersed; and that he equated literacy with initiative and cleanliness.
The men who poured into the District seeking to redress their fortunes were a motley lot. Many were uneducated, but among them were men whose background embraced broad reaches of literature, poetry, music, philosophy and politics. It was scarcely more surprising for a man to reveal an acquaintance with the pragmatism of William James than to pull a rich chunk of sylvanite out of his pocket, and in the intervals that separated the long, silent chess games that my father loved, he and his opponents argued, to my edification, the merits of Andrew Lang as a psychologist, of Tennyson as a poet, or the significance of the Curies' discovery of radium. He (and I surreptitiously) read the Smart Set when Mencken was first laying about him with a sardonic flail.
Nevertheless until I reached the rebellious age I was dutifully sent to Sunday school in the local Wesleyan chapel and listened to all the stories with childish indifference, and once, without assistance, I won a $10 prize for the best Christmas story; it had something to do with Jesus and I must have laid to with imagination as earnestly as Renan because I can remember the family's startled reaction when they read my prizewinning essay. This early success at deliberate fabrication may have sown the ferment of later skepticism, since I thereby learned how easily the trick was done.
Until his later years my father usually attended church, and then he let my sisters perform the family duty. On religion he kept his opinions to himself except in the privacy of the family, where his comments, at times sardonic, about the earnest young men who held forth in wordy sermons could not fail to escape my ears. My belief is that he had passed beyond the point where the sainted life of his grandmother Phillippa could be accepted as verifying her theory of cosmology, that he had come to see that she would have been much the same saintly character even if she had remained in the Anglican Church. Phillippa was now part of a mosaic containing Henry James's novels, William James's philosophy, Emerson's skepticism, Robert Ingersoll's atheism. As he talked before and after chess games, or with lecturers, musicians, engineers who were invited to the house, I came to understand that there was some sort of gentleman's agreement that on some subjects gentlemen did not agree, and therefore remained silent. One subject on which there was fair agreement was poetry. My father particularly liked Tennyson, who served as a touchstone for many a philosophical divagation. He more or less secretly indulged in poetic composition himself and possessed a thick, leather-bound volume of poems inscribed in neat penmanship. This is a harmless diversion, the impulse to which may have entered the line from Phillippa's father because it repeatedly crops out in succeeding generations. I have no evidence that the impulse was ever taken very seriously, but it produced works marked by a plenitude of sentiment and a dearth of wit. As judged by their strophes, my ancestors countered the tragic episodes of life by personal tenderness, nostalgic recollections, and the generalization that somehow things would come out all right in heaven. In my father's case there was some warrant: his younger sister Mary died, though not within his memory, of fatal burning; and within his memory five still younger children, two sisters and three brothers, died in a week's time of scarlet fever, leaving of ten children only four surviving. The only poem of his that I retain, entitled 'Reverie,' is a recapitulation of a day in childhood when he and his sisters and brothers ran through orchard and meadow in search of birds' nests, played fox in the cornfield, hung on to the cow's tail to be dragged over hollow and hill, drove the hen from the nest, and put the pullet to sleep by tucking her head under her wing, indulging in miscellaneous mischief until
We come with hushed voice to God's acre,
We repeat to each other the story,
Where the flames caught hold of her garments
Again the voices of children
And now, close by the green hillock
Those innocent days of my childhood,
Heartless as the assessment may seem, I must say of my father that his age was ripe for Tennyson. It suffered the pain attending the perhaps too rapid deliquescence of a faith in which it now only half believed. In its courageous moments it struck out into the unknown, facing the possible consequences of the gamble; in its sorrows it took solace in dreams and monumented its graveyards with marble or granite pillars decorated with myrtle and weeping willows, and tenderly inscribed with a hope that was no longer seriously entertained. His age could scarcely see itself through its tears and only half knew why it wept.
For his mixed sentiment and skepticism my father paid off his conscience by generous hospitality, and any minister of any gospel was welcome at his table, Sunday noonday dinner in particular being a natural opportunity for amity. On such occasions a mantle of quasi righteousness descended over the household, the transparency of which must have been evident even to the visiting parson who probably discounted a measure of worldliness in the interests of Maryland fried chicken, baked sweet potatoes and hot biscuits with apple dumplings for dessert. I probably early came to sense that the most important thing conceivable -- eternal salvation -- was peddled by a profession maintained on public charity and honored in deference to hospitality, but with reservations.
It was thus that I grew up, apparently secure in the home, obviously insecure in all other directions. The Greatest Gold-Mining Camp on Earth did not offer much assurance of security in its streets and alleys, its cribs and saloons, its deep shafts with open mouths or its long, black tunnels. At the pole of security was an emphasis on common sense, criticism, reserved opinion (experienced rather than intellectually appreciated, of course); at the other pole was a world confused by variety, harsh contrasts, irreconcilable contradictions, and one also significantly expanded by literature. As I have said, I was told that when I was not doing anything I was supposed to be reading. I recall no public library in town, but there was a fair substitute for one operated by an incredibly old woman who suffered, by my present guess, the mixed catastrophe of heart failure, cirrhosis of the liver, dyspepsia, borborygmus and strong body odor. She owned and operated the town's reading room, which contained perhaps (another guess) 3500 volumes and a fair supply of magazines and local newspapers. When I came to know her, she had for reasons of nature retired to a back room to which I paid an occasional but reluctant courtesy visit because the family had a charitable affection for her. The front door of her reading room was rarely locked except on Sundays and at night, and her clients entered and left without her knowledge, depositing, if they were so inclined, a dime in an open cigar box. From browsing among the partially alphabetized, partially chaotic collection I acquired a primitive library habit that still leads me to study the titles in any row of books, though I doubt that there were many on her shelves that received my attention; I visited the reading room to obtain novels for my sisters and it is chiefly the mixed smell of cigar smoke, dyspepsia and old books that lingers in my memory, and the impression of the multiplicity of literature. I saw that there were many books in the world, more than one man could read in his entire lifetime, and my reaction was one of alarm: the remembrance of the books that I had read and enjoyed in the presence of rows and rows that presumably I should but obviously never could read for sheer lack of time, gave me a sense of futility.
The experience was counteracted by two elderly spinsters (or so they seemed to me), who lived a short distance from our house, an understanding pair whose names are lost but who occupy a warm corner in my heart. Their household furnishings had probably been moved in toto from the East: the Turkey red carpet, the carved walnut sofa covered with black horsehair with rocking chair and side chairs to match, the chromo prints in walnut frames, the knitted antimacassars, the mahogany pier glass in the hall, the big Chinese vase that held umbrellas, even the Swiss clock in a porcelain case decorated with pink rosebuds. There was no cigar smoke and little other odor because the house was aired every day, holding only the scarcely detectable perfume associated with ladies. They were the possessors of many books arranged around the sitting room walls, some of them in 'sets' that may have been purchased locally because much of the world's literature traveled West in the form of 'special editions, beautifully bound and most reasonably priced,' peddled from door to door by young men who said that they were working their way through college. I was urged by the family to be particularly careful of these 'sets' with their gold-embossed covers. But many of the books were just dog-eared volumes in tattered covers, first editions that had been read by two, perhaps three generations.
For a boy to come browsing through these shelves, wanting to borrow another book, must have given delicious meaning to the vellum and tooled-leather covers that were dusted once a week but so rarely removed from their position. I learned that the cover is not very important, and I have no idea of the sequence: The Old Curiosity Shop, Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities and David Copperfield, Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, Kim and The Jungle Books, The House of the Seven Gables and The Scarlet Letter, Ben Hur, Ivanhoe, The Conquest of Mexico, Quo Vadis, Vanity Fair and The Virginians, The Little Minister, Les Misérables, Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, The Last of the Mohicans and The Pathfinder, The Trail of the Lonesome Pine, Robinson Crusoe, Lorna Doone .... If I was too young to appreciate them all, they remained so uniquely my own, so private, so mined from a rich lode of my own discovery, that singly and collectively they became for me a magic carpet. I have never outgrown my early belief that a good book is man's most precious creation.
What I do believe is that most of the boys of Cripple Creek spent a good part of their lives downtown, or playing marbles, throwing pennies, or more generally, talking, just talking. Since I could not talk without embarrassment I indulged in it to a minimal extent and instead retreated into the shop during free daylight hours, and, at night, into the world of literary imagination. Yet I was not a bookworm. My reading was somehow edged in between the shop and school, and, in the spring, between hikes into the hills to search for purple anemones, just coming up where the snow had melted or, later in the summer, to gather large handfuls of white Mariposa lilies and blue columbines, or to climb the smooth, steep slopes of conical Mount Pisgah or the dangerously vertical cliffs of other mountains. Or, in the company of other venturesome kids, not all of them boys, each with a flickering candle in hand, to explore for nearly a mile the black cavern of some horizontal tunnel long since abandoned, the walls glistening with moisture, the roof decorated with stalactites each hanging precisely above its stalagmite on the rock below, water dripping, dripping in the darkness between them. We were not supposed to go into abandoned mines, but anyone with half a grain of sense could have told from the mud on our shoes and clothes in perfectly dry weather that we had been deep in the heart of the cold, dark earth.
Cripple Creek supplied ample realism to accent, or counteraccent, the life of the imagination. Boys cheated and lied and used force to extort nickels and dimes out of smaller boys, but some of them did kind and heroic things. Girls were of exactly two kinds: nice girls, and girls that were not nice (this was, of course, initially an adult categorization, but readily confirmed and generally anticipated in experience), but somehow their charms as individuals did not correlate with this absolutist division. Life was sometimes as muddy as the streets when the winter snow was melting, sometimes it had the colors of the Sangre de Cristo Range seen against the sky through nearly a hundred miles of dry and utterly transparent air. But always it was charged with danger, not the kind that necessarily frightens but the kind that induces caution. Like creeping to the edge of a black, uncovered hole that went so far down that a rock took an unbelievable time to reach the bottom and send up its faint echoes; or the rolling stones and great boulders, the slippery shingle on a mountainside over which one had to find a way to reach the top, where one could look out upon miles upon miles of blue mountain ranges, the tips white with snow. Too many such adventures at too early an age left me with nightmares of climbing over endless miles of hills, or of struggling along a vertiginous height with the certain knowledge that I was going to fall, symbols of minor frustrations and the source of delayed migraine for many years until I saw the sequence and learned to wake myself up from such cold sweats. I have never dreamed of anemones in the snow, or Mariposa lilies and columbines, because they were attained with un-dangerous effort. But faraway, snow-capped mountains, their blue slopes and white tops so nearly transparent as almost to melt into the sky, to which I was about to set out, or for some reason was not able to set out, frequently recurred in dreams until, thirty years later, I returned and took a close look at them and found them to be more solid and a little more prosaic than the Maxfield Parrish vision which childhood memory had bequeathed to me. Thereafter there were fewer such dreams and now I can take my mountains or leave them.
Mountains can mean many things in dreams, but in mine they probably symbolize the excessive measure of anxiety (I still cannot command the word when I want it) that Dr. Anne Roe read into the routine psychometric tests she gave me a few years ago. That the one certain thing about life is its uncertainty must have been an early lesson. My father and sisters gave unselfishly to my care, but they were too busy and too preoccupied with their own lives to enter deeply into my emotional domain, and I grew up, as perhaps all children should grow up, more or less alone, with ample opportunity for that 'divine idleness' so necessary to maturation, but with the responsibility of figuring things out for myself. In the shop I could take things to pieces and learn what made them tick, and acquire a measure of self-confidence with which to fend against the precariousness of the pattern as a whole. I had the desire to understand them, and the conviction that, invariably, if one tried to understand them, they made sense.
Most things made sense, that is, but not everything. Among my earliest literary experiences was Dante's Divine Comedy. We possessed the work in two large volumes illustrated with full-page steel engravings by Gustave Doré. Sometime between the Grimm brothers' Fairy Tales and Oliver Twist I spelled my way through the Inferno and Purgatory (Paradise must have bored me) while lying face downward on the floor of the living room, struggling to discover why these tortured souls were being punished by God with devised cruelties that I would not conceivably inflict on a cat. The writhing, naked men and women connected remotely with the moral strictures as I knew them, with the Ten Commandments and the not very exciting lessons of Sunday school, but they failed to connect with anything else that I had either read or heard discussed or learned from direct experience. It just did not make sense. It must have been at this time that I came to the suspicion that the family, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, did not really approve of parsons because parsons really thought that this stuff might be true. I asked no questions because it seemed a silly and embarrassing thing to ask questions about. In the end I just left Dante on the bookshelf and passed into a mild state of philosophic confusion which lasted until the morning of April 15, 1912.
I had for the last two years been going to high school in Denver, but had returned to Cripple Creek at intervals, and was there, presumably during spring vacation, on the morning the news was flashed around the world by telegraph that the Titanic had gone down, with the loss of hundreds of lives. Magnificent beyond description, the finest ship ever built, she had been racing across the Atlantic Ocean trying to break the speed record. She had gone to the north to shorten her course and in the dark of night had crashed at full speed into an iceberg. I retrieved the Cripple Creek Times after breakfast and took it to the shop where I read the full-page story in every repetitious passage. I was sickened -- not by the magnitude of the catastrophe, because if men would build bigger and bigger ships and race them across the ocean at faster and faster speeds, catastrophes were bound to happen -- but sickened by the statement played up in big headlines that, as the sinking ship rolled slowly on her side to pour over two thousand frightened men and women into the dark water, the band played 'Nearer, My God, to Thee.' That did not make sense did not make sense did not make sense .... I do not know what I expected the band to do, certainly not jump into the water. The band was trying heroically to still the panic that filled the passengers, and it may have succeeded in part because nearly a quarter of them were saved in the few remaining lifeboats. But it was too late for the band to do any good. The band should not be in the picture. I have never liked brass bands. I don't even know now that it was a brass band. What I did know then, as I lay on my back in the yard, staring at the heavens, was that the band had nothing to do with it. It was a false note, a pitfall, a deception. Why had the captain of a great ship raced her across the ocean at night at the risk of running into icebergs? Why had the allegedly watertight compartments given way? Why was there not a better method of getting people into lifeboats? Why was there not some means of following icebergs, of knowing where they were? Why were men so stupid as to play up the band as the high point of the picture?
I went back to the Beginnjng. I wrestled, in my own terms, with the Meaning of Things. I took a sharp scalpel and took the wrappings off life and took a close look at its insides. I went downtown to listen to what people were saying. I came back home to stare into the sky and watch the clouds sailing across the bridge of heaven. I went into the shop and looked at the nonsensical toys around the walls, the fossils and minerals and dried flowers, the vacuum pump, the static machine, the X-ray tube, the Tesla coil -- and an electric motor which my father had long before built for me but which, for mysterious reasons, had refused to turn a fraction of an inch, and I cried a little at how much he had been hurt by this, his failure, because he knew (and I knew in a dim way) that he was ill -- when this defeat and the knowledge of his illness had been added to other misfortunes he had tried to kill himself in the back yard with his six-shooter and was stopped by one of my sisters after a struggle the noise of which almost reached the neighbors -- and in the motor that wouldn't turn, and on which he had spent so much labor, I saw a symbol, first of futility, then of frustration, then of comprehensible defeat, and I hurled it into the corner and went out of the shop, not caring a damn what became of anything in it. Nor do I know now. In a few hours it was all over. On that April 15, 1912, this book was begun.
Shortly thereafter my life line was interrupted. It was decided that I should live in Denver with my Aunt Somers, a half-sister of my mother's, and the years from 1912 onwards have no particular significance for this document. For many years there was no more reading, in the old sense. Hundreds of books, thousands of technical articles passed through my hands for what I could get out of them, not for pleasure. In the space of twenty years after I left Cripple Creek I doubt that I read twice that many books not directly concerned with science. I wandered from the straight and narrow path with Kamongo, which (as related in the Woollcott Reader) I wrote in 1930 to relieve the boredom of a Pacific crossing en route to Siam. Actually the quest for the Meaning of Things had only been below the surface during the intervening years and I utilized the lungfish as a springboard from which to take the reader on an exploration of the cosmos as I, a biologist, saw it.
When Kamongo had been launched I tried my hand at something that would not fall between two stools, but Harper and Brothers scarcely recovered the cost of the initial printing of The End of Illusion (1934). Which was too bad because it had a good idea behind it, one that so far as I know had never been used: to dramatize forthrightly the illusory argument about free will. I contrived a story of a lad who thought that he exercised this prerogative when he went ashore on a lonely beach in Siam, intending to do what he damn well pleased; but he fell asleep under the casuarina trees and awoke to find himself an anything but free participant in a triangle that involved a Scotsman's conscience, an American engineer with a suspicion of murder hanging over him, and a girl named Lena. Boy met girl -- only, as the reviewers noted, Lena lacked out-and-out sex appeal so that the reader didn't care what happened to boy or girl. In any case, the name of the book was bad: I wanted to call it Moon of Green Cheese but the publishers demurred; under this name it might have been a best seller, which would have pleased me because I dedicated it to my friend, the Right Reverend Frank O. Thorne, Bishop of Nyasaland, the Padre of Kamongo. The Padre in his last letter to me still refuses to believe that I believe all the things I said in Kamongo, but he has never told me what he thought of his book: perhaps it is a trifle embarrassing to be a bishop in the Church of England and to have an agnostic bit of irreligion publicly dedicated to you.
I had started the present book before The End of Illusion was off the press. It seemed not enough to let the problem of man's place in nature rest with the argument from the lungfish, or with a lad whose whole life had been changed merely because he listened to another man telling a story aboard a boat puffing up a tropical river. I wanted to see the problem in broad perspective, I wanted to understand some things that still did not quite make sense. And so this book grew. I followed the trail that best suited my opportunities and requirements. I began with the evolution of man and then delved into anthropology as a basis for rough extrapolation back to neolithic man, but Little, Brown and I agreed to drop this chapter from the final draft. Yet subsequent chapters show the imprint of many works on anthropology, the citation of which would ordinarily be appropriate but which will be omitted. It is scarcely necessary to say that over a period of years many works dealing with history, science and philosophy have contributed to this book, of which only a few can be specifically indicated.1 In addition to major sources that have been acknowledged in the text there are, however, certain areas requiring special mention.
One of these is New Testament criticism. When I came to the task of writing 'New Wine' it was by way of a sort of 'minimalist position,' that is, accepting some small but historically valid nucleus for the gospels, but rejecting their supernaturalism, as it had been rejected by nearly all Protestant scholars in the nineteenth century. With minor differences, this position is that represented by numerous writers in this century who both in books and shorter articles in liberal theological journals2 have been intent on establishing some core of historicity and fending against the collapse of even the minimalist position. The critics of the New Testament against whom these defenses were raised have earlier been cited in 'New Wine.'3 With the exception of Strauss and Bauer, both of whom were competent exegetes within the limits of available knowledge, these earlier criticisms were frequently inadequate in respect to knowledge of the gospel texts themselves, a highly complicated problem as is revealed by Couchoud's analysis, on which I have drawn heavily in the text.
I have also drawn heavily, both in 'New Wine' and in subsequent chapters, on the writings of John Mackinnon Robertson, an outstanding exponent of rationalism and one of the foremost scholars produced in England in the last six decades.4 Born in 1856 on the Isle of Arran, he received his primary education at Stirling, the ancient capital of Scotland, but he left school at the age of thirteen to become a self-educated man and to win and occupy from 1906 to 1918 a seat for the substantial Parliamentary division of Tyneside in the House of Commons. His notable stature, however, is not as a member of Parliament but as a thinker, scholar, man of letters, rationalist and humanist. His primary schooling included some Latin, but he subsequently acquired competence in many languages, a competence that opened to him both modern and ancient literatures. After early experiences, first, as apprentice in a law office, and then as a clerk in an insurance office, he engaged in the writing of short articles for local periodicals and, through William Archer, a leader writer with the Edinburgh Evening News, an organ of advanced radicalism, succeeded him as a leader writer for that paper. Robertson's youth coincided with the period of Charles Bradlaugh's defense of rationalism and he was a regular contributor to Bradlaugh's National Reformer; and when Bradlaugh was fighting for the right of intellectual freedom in Parliament he became the National Reformer's assistant editor. On Bradlaugh's death in 1891 he assumed the editorship, and when that vehicle closed in 1893 from lack of support he founded the Free Review (subsequently called The University Magazine and Free Review). Politically, Robertson described himself as a philosophical socialist, meaning that he preferred evolution to revolution when constitutional machinery was available.
In modern English politics Robertson would doubtless be adjudged conservative, in American politics, scarcely left of center. In all matters, it has been said of him that 'he loved reason as other men love physical health' -- but not his reason alone for 'all he would have contended was that without a knowledge of all the available facts, and the disciplined action of reason upon them, there could not be even a temporary approximation to truth.' The search for truth was the dominant passion of his life. It was thus that he became an authority on the Shakespeare canon, and thus that he approached economics, ethics, mythology, sociology, history, literary criticism, and Christian origins. Even greater than his extraordinary literary productivity was this intellectual probity -- he hated the half-truth, the devious evasion, the careless conviction, and his writings show the sharp edge of this scalpel in every line.
Despite a lifetime of scholarly work, Robertson is known to only a small circle in his native land, and he is almost unknown in America. It was in part because of his determination to find 'tested truth' in whatever area he worked, his refusal to accept a substitute, that his life brought him only, in the main, frustration. He found neither honors, position, material reward, nor even recognition among contemporary scholars: his critical approach offended too many set beliefs, his meticulous construction and phraseology had no popular appeal. He phrased his sentences for accuracy and not for emotion excitation. He remained a lonely voice when purveyors of philosophical and literary shoddy were acclaimed throughout the land. This was largely, one thinks, because people in general are not interested in tested truth, but in drum-beating, and Robertson was above drum-beating of any kind. His colleagues have said of him that his style was academic and precious; what I have read of his works leads me to disagree -- I find in it an amazing mastery of the English language as a tool of precision.
With reference to the historicity problem an eminent Catholic scholar has admitted to me that if the major elements of Christology, including the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension, were shown to be without historic basis the Catholic Church would have to close its doors tomorrow. The reply to this is self-evident: a modern social institution that rests its entire warrant for existence on the historic validity of any collection of documents, particularly of so questionable a nature as the New Testament, rests on precarious foundations indeed. The attitude of Protestant scholars on the question of historicity may be bracketed between two examples. It was the Reverend Maurice Jones in The New Testament in the Twentieth Century (1934) who, in the course of a long critique, boldly committed himself to the argument (quoted in the text) that 'the strongest and most irrefragable evidence of all [in favor of historicity] is provided by the existence and history of the Christian Church. If the "Christ-Myth" theory is true, and if Jesus never lived, the whole civilized world has for close upon two thousand years lain under the spell of a lie and the greatest power for good [sic] that the world has ever known originated in a delusion.' More deviously argued is the position of W. F. Albright in From the Stone Age to Christianity: Monotheism and the Historical Process (second edition, 1946). Albright considers Robertson as unworthy of mention and he dismisses Couchoud as the author of historical extravagances. Firm in the conviction that 'there is an Intelligence and a Will expressed in both History and Nature ...' he accepts 'Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ of faith ... that Christianity ... arose with Jesus of Nazareth, not with Paul or John ...' and, though admitting that 'the historian cannot control the details of Jesus's birth and resurrection and thus has no right to pass judgment on their historicity,' referring to the correspondences in the cycles of Tammuz, Adonis, Attis, Osiris and so on, he states that 'The Church Fathers saw truly when they represented these aspects of paganism as part of the divine preparation for Christianity.' Against such teleological obfuscation reason and history are of no avail.
Another major debt must be acknowledged to a man who philosophically stands poles apart from Robertson, the Reverend Alphonsus Joseph-Mary Augustus Montague Summers, one of the world's foremost living experts on demonology. This subject has been and remains a magnetic one for writers of many interests: students of the morbid; jurists for whom the processes of accusation, trial and condemnation for witchcraft have a historic interest; anthropologists interested in primitive ideological patterns; humanists who can find both tragedy and comedy in diabolism; while for medical men the ways of the devil's minions have an irresistible appeal. My initial acquaintance with Satan in his medieval guise was made in the Priaulx library at St. Peter Port, Guernsey, an acquaintance that was enhanced by the circumstance that he sorely plagued the Channel Islands at one time; indeed, until World War II and the German occupation transected their history, the old stone houses of Jersey and Guernsey sheltered a half-viable belief in witchcraft. Many a house dating from the seventeenth or early eighteenth century still shows the ledge of stone protruding from the chimney where the witch could rest when she returned from her aerial journey.
Almost every library has its collection of treatises on witchcraft; unlike simultaneous theses in rationalism, they were abundantly printed, abundantly purchased and abundantly preserved. For firsthand knowledge, however, I recommend the works of the Reverend Mr. Summers, who in many volumes has analyzed both the primary literature of witchcraft and the pronouncements of the Papacy upon the subject from earliest times.5
Draper's History of the Conflict between Religion and Science (1874) is mentioned in the text, but may be noted again to draw attention to the fact that it contains a translation of the notable Syllabus of Errors, promulgated by Pius IX in 1864, and a discussion of the impact which this infallible pronunciamento had upon the entire world, Catholic and Protestant alike. No mention is made in the text, however, of Andrew D. White's A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (two volumes) because, although published in 1896, I claim it for the twentieth century for the simple, if inconsistent, reason that it has never been supplanted by a superior work. Succeeding Draper's very popular volume, it remains one of the outstanding American contributions to rationalism, probably the greatest. It had a merited success and ran into four editions; my copies, the covers of which are crocking from decay, are of the fifteenth printing of the second edition (1911-1915). No one acquainted with White will fail to recognize my great indebtedness to him. Nor is there any mention of Sir James Frazer's Golden Bough (twelve volumes), the first volume of which appeared in 1900. Modern students of anthropology are apt to raise an eyebrow at the mention of Frazer's name, but many a distinguished anthropologist cut his eyeteeth on him. His too facile generalization and lack of field experience were compensated for by his wide reading, his persistent quest for pattern, and his freedom from a priori. He set many men in the path of anthropology with the determination to correct his mistakes. Nor do I mention Gibbon, except in passing. The element I admire in Gibbon is his majestic use of slightly concealed sarcasm. Frank sarcasm is for an outraged and fighting-mad Voltaire; a historian, treading a precarious way among long-established convictions, and wishing to be taken seriously, cannot risk so brutish a weapon. In Gibbon's England one could not call a spade a spade but had to refer to it as a device currently used for excavation or, as it might be, for filling an excavation, and he was forced to reveal his true opinions by indirection but an indirection so cleverly devised as to convey them effectively to most of his readers. Robertson waxes acidic when irritated by the genius for pious falsification that so frequently characterizes the ecclesiastic argument, but in the main he calls a spade a spade with only such restraint as might be imposed in the House of Commons, where necessity has long since put a bridle upon men's natively vulgar tongues. Gibbon used indirection against a world in which he otherwise would have been helpless, and by its use, won his end.
Some students of philosophy shudder at the demise of Plato as the ideal philosopher. This demise was foreshadowed in Will Durant's justly famous The Story of Philosophy (1926 -- a book that has been read by several million people), the last rites served by Warner Fite in The Platonic Legend (1934) , Benjamin Farrington's Science and Politics in the Ancient World (1939) and Alban D. Winspear's The Genesis of Plato's Thought (1940). To me his resuscitation seems now impossible. With Plato's end there must also end much that has been unfortunate, indeed dangerous, in our culture.
A very personal note of indebtedness must go to my friend George Gaylord Simpson for The Meaning 0f Evolution (1949), the last chapters of which deal cogently with the problem of values. Although his book appeared after I had completed 'Objectives and Objectivity in Science' (Yale Scientific Magazine, 23, No. 5, 1949) and 'Organism and Environment: Dynamic Oppositions' (in Adaptation, edited by John Romano, 1949), and as I was writing 'Science versus Metaphysics' (Ohio State Law Journal, 12, 53,1951), all three of which essays deal with the value problem, I did not read it until after these essays were completed. We had each stated our position on the subject of values without knowledge of the other's opinions, and in many places used almost the same words. Fortunately Professor Simpson's synthesis of evolution was available to me when I wrote the Epilogue of the present work and, visibly and invisibly, I have incorporated much of his thought into my own.
Lastly, I must make acknowledgment to two important works in which I have read hundreds of articles and hundreds of thousands of words: the first is the Encyclopaedia Britannica in the Eleventh Edition (1910-1911), of which I usually have in my possession three copies, one in my home and one in my office in New York, and one in Maine. Setting aside Volume 18, Med to Mum, on which J. N. Hall (The Tale of a Shipwreck, 1934) concentrated when in retirement on his island off Tahiti, I wager that I have read this work as thoroughly as any man now living, excluding of course writers of other encyclopedias. How frequently I have regretted that a set of its twenty-nine volumes (with Index) could not travel with me. The Eleventh, called the 'scholar's edition' and published in 1911, presents the scholarship of the time more compactly than any other work before or since.
The second work to which I owe a deep debt is the Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, edited by J. Hastings. The first volume of this work appeared in 1908, and to it the editor also brought the patient and expert scholarship of the time. The two works are indispensable in any library. To them may be added the Cambridge History Series, of which the modern, medieval and ancient sections were initiated in 1902, 1911 and 1923 respectively.
It will be said by students in one department or another of human history that many of the works cited above are out-of-date, that the last number of the Archives of This or the Journal of That has necessitated their revision. They are admittedly out-of-date on many points, but they are scarcely antiquated in the areas with which this work is concerned. With a single exception, namely, the origins of the New Testament, I doubt that any important matter discussed in this book has required serious revision since the end of the nineteenth century. By that date the major facets of the problem of man's place in nature had been clearly visualized and clearly expressed, and were available for all to read. Since the beginning of the twentieth century we have been capitalizing on the science that accrued in the three previous centuries, making life easier and longer, and drifting into a more and more confused philosophy of why live at all. One reason for this is clear: censorship of the intellect. The public generally is unaware that in many of our colleges and universities, although a philosopher may express his opinions freely in technical journals, he is not free to reveal them in frank discussion before his classes lest some irate parent speak to the president and he find himself reprimanded and asked not to do it again. The consequences of censorship in our public entertainment and press are generally recognized, as is the fact that the rigors of censorship have of late been increasing rapidly. It is less generally known that an insidious and frequently unacknowledged censorship pervades our educational system with scarcely less devastating results than those that attended the prohibition of free thought in early nineteenth-century England. So astute an observer as H. A. Overstreet (The Mature Mind, 1949) has said that the great scientists of the nineteenth century remained outside the psychological, social, political and economic problem areas of their age. This was only true in part, but in part it is still true: they remain outside because they are shut outside by ancient mores. Science is fine in the field of gadgeteering -- but it must not touch life!
Our cause for concern lies not in the overdevelopment of science, nor in the fact that men have failed to agree on many matters, but that from expedience, religion, politics, or lack of courage or conviction they have come to permit matters of disagreement, however vital, to be entombed in the mausoleum inscribed 'democratic tolerance.' It is one thing to defend freedom of thought for the sake of freedom; and quite another to permit the victory, when won, to become the grave of inquiry. The 'gentleman's agreement' that I sensed as a child is becoming for our children a tomb for the intellect.
It was nearly four centuries ago, at the peak of the French Renaissance, that Montaigne opined that the supreme purpose of human learning ought to be to teach us how to live happily rather than how to die safely. In a reasonable way, he was right. I would suggest that he was wrong only in failing to see that the two are synonymous. So too, in a reasonable way, Darwin was right even if he is no longer adequate as biology: evolutionary theory has been extended by thousands of students on a scale that would have amazed him, while it has developed so far in respect to the application of the mathematics of probability that he would be wholly unable to understand it. The important point is that he was more nearly right than the astronomer, Sir John Herschel, who said that Darwin's theory was "the law of higgledy-piggledy," or Pius IX who, in his Syllabus of Errors, infallibly rejected all intellectual inquiry and advance. So too, in a reasonable way, Frazer, Havelock Ellis, White, Lecky, Huxley, Tyndall, Owen, Spencer, Richard Carlile, Hennell, Holyoake, Tom Paine, Gibbon, and all the others who pioneered along the road of rationalism, were, in a reasonable way, right in seeking to strip man's knowledge of himself of error. I have the poignant -- and I hope unwarranted -- feeling that I am writing l'envoi to some of them, that mine is the last generation that will read Andrew White's two meticulous volumes, much less Frazer's rambling twelve; or Lecky's broad if sometimes inaccurate generalizations about the natural history of morals; or Tyndall's feet-on-the-earth essays that sought to heal the Cartesian dichotomy; or experience delight at Gibbon's sarcastic thrusts at the superstitions of his day. Life is too short, too crowded, now, with new problems, and with hertzian waves vibrant with news of the latest breakfast food available to supplement the diet of the gastronomically hungry boy. One trusts, however, that some of man's ancient problems will find new solutions, some of the hertzian waves new patterns, because these men lived and wrote.
1Supplementing the earlier and general works of such Oriental scholars as Maspero, Jastrow, Erman, Breasted, Petrie and G. E. Smith, I have used: E. A. W. Budge, Egyptian Literature, v. 1, Legends of the Gods (the Egyptian texts, edited with translations, 1912); and From Fetish to God in Ancient Egypt (1934). W. M. F. Petrie, Personal Religion in Egypt before Christianity (1912), which has been followed for Plutarch's treatment of the Osiris legend. W. A. Jayne, The Healing Gods of Ancient Civilization (1925). A. Erman, The Literature of the Ancient Egyptians: Poems, Narratives and Manuals of Instruction, from the Third and Second Millennia B.C. (1927). J. Baikie, A History of Egypt (2 v., 1929). V. G. Childe, New Light on the Most Ancient East: The Oriental Prelude to European History (1934). A. W. Shorter, The Egyptian Gods (1937). E. W. Budge and C. J. Gadd, The Babylonian Story of the Deluge and the Epic of Gilgamesh, published in 1929 as a brochure of the Department of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities of the British Museum, has been followed for the story of Gilgamesh. The portions of free verse appearing in 'The Species Problem' are quoted with permission of the Viking Press from W. E. Leonard: The Epic of Gilgamesh (1934).
Nearly all the works of Darwin, Huxley and Tyndall contributed to 'The Species Problem' and 'To Whatever Abyss,' but I have also relied heavily on: Geoffrey West, Charles Darwin: A Portrait (1938); Houston Peterson, Huxley: Prophet of Science (1932); and Clarence Ayers: Huxley (1932). Other relatively recent volumes that have been widely used are: W. W. Fowler, The Religious Experience of the Roman People (1911); James Harvey Robinson, The New History (1912); Joseph McCabe, Crises in the History of the Papacy (1916); P. Smith, A Short History of Christian Theophagy (1922); F. C. Burkitt, Christian Beginnings (1924), and his article 'Bible: Modern Criticism,' Encyclopaedia Britannica, XIV edition; Chilperic Edwards, The Messianic Idea (1927); Charles Guinebert, Christianity, Past and Present (1927) ; F. A. Ridley, Julian the Apostate and the Rise of Christianity (1928); H. E. Barnes, The Twilight of Christianity (1929); Joseph Wood Krutch, The Modern Temper: A Study and a Confession (1929 -- I have drawn heavily on Mr. Krutch's chapter 'Love -- or the Life and Death of Value'); Grant Allen, The Evolution of the Idea of God (1931); T. R. Glover, The Conflict of Religions in the Early Roman Empire (1932); MacLeod Yearsley, The Story of the Bible (1933); L. Woolley, Abraham: Recent Discoveries and Hebrew Origins (1936); Irwin Edman, Four Ways of Philosophy (1937); Frank D. Adams, The Birth and Development of the Geological Sciences (1938); Joseph McCabe, History of the Popes (1939), and St. Augustine and His Age (1903); Edgar J. Goodspeed, A History of Early Christian Literature (1942); S. J. Holmes, Life and Morals (1948). The story of Dasius is related by Franz Cumont, Les Actes de Saint Dasius (Analecta Bollandiana XVI, 1897); it is also cited by Toynbee, A Study of History (VI, p. 483).
2For example, S. Reinach, Cultes, Mythes et Religions (3 v., 1905); S. J. Case, The Historicity of Jesus (1912); F. C. Conybeare, The Historical Christ, or An Investigation of the views of Mr. J. M. Robertson, Dr. A. Drews and Prof. W. B. Smith (1914), and Myth, Magic and Morals: A Study of Christian Origins (1909); C. P. G. Rose, Antecedents of Christianity (1925); J. Klausner, Jesus of Nazareth: His Life, Times and Teaching (1925); M. Goguel, 'Recent French Discussion of the Historical Evidence of Jesus Christ,' (Harvard Theological Review, 19, 115, 1926), 'The Problem of Jesus' (ibid., 23, 93, 1930), and Jesus the Nazarene -- Myth or History? (1926); A. Weigall, The Paganism in Our Christianity (1928); L. Salvatorelli, 'From Locke to Reitzenstein: The Historical Investigation of the Origins of Christianity' (Harvard Theological Review, 22, 262, 1929); H. G. Wood, Did Christ Really Live? (1938). A. J. Toynbee's summary in his A Study of History (v. 6, 1939) implies but does not commit the author to the belief in a historic nucleus; Toynbee presents in tabular form the numerous parallels between Christianity and certain ancient mythologies, a parallelism that had been more elaborately developed by other writers.
3Other works directed against the minimalist position are Arthur Drews, The Christ Myth (1910); Jocelyn Rhys, Shaken Creeds: The Virgin Birth Doctrine (1922), and Shaken Creeds: The Resurrection Doctrines (1928); G. Brandes, Jesus -- A Myth (1926), and P. L. Couchoud, The Enigma of Jesus (with an introduction by Sir J. G. Frazer, 1924) which preceded his The Creation of Christ: An Outline of the Beginnings of Christianity (2 v., 1939).
4Robertson's chief works, with dates of publication and revision, are: Christ and Krishna (1890); Religious Systems of the World (1890, 1892); The Dynamics of Religion: An Essay in English Cultural History (published under the pen name M. W. Wiseman, 1897, 1926); A Short History of Free Thought: Ancient and Modern (2 v., 1899, 1914-1915,1936); Studies in Religious Fallacy (1900); Christianity and Mythology (1900, 1910); A Short History of Christianity (1902, 1906, 1913, The Thinker's Library, 1931); Pagan Christs: Studies in Comparative Hierology (1903, 1911, 1928); Rationalism (1912); The Historical Jesus: A Survey of Positions (1916); The Jesus Problem: A Restatement of the Myth Theory (1917); A Short History of Morals (1920); Jesus and Judas: A Textual and Historical Investigation (1927); A History of Freethought in the Nineteenth Century (2 v., 1929). Of these, the 1936 revision of A History of Freethought: Ancient and Modern: To the Period of the French Revolution and the 1929 revision of A History of Freethought in the Nineteenth Century (both indexed) will remain his greatest contributions to rationalism, and A Short History of Christianity (3rd edition, revised for The Thinker's Library in 1931 and unfortunately not indexed) his most readable work in this field. In addition, he edited or wrote prefaces for many volumes, including: David Hume's The Natural History of Religion; Thomas Paine's The Rights of Man and The Age of Reason; Henry Buckle's Introduction to the History of Civilization in England; The Philosophical Works of Francis Bacon; W. S. Godfrey's Theism Found Wanting; Winwood Reade's The Martyrdom of Man; and Gibbon on Christianity: Being the 15th and 16th Chapters of Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. To each of these prefaces he contributed richly from the store of erudition and historical perspective with which he was himself so richly endowed by a lifetime of conscientious scholarship.
5Among Summers's major works are: The History of Witchcraft (1926); The Geography of Witchcraft (1927); Discovery of Witches (1928); The Vampire, His Kith and Kin (1928); The Vampire in Europe (1929); The Werewolf (1933); The Black Mass (1936); A Popular History of Witchcraft (1937), and Witchcraft and Black Magic (1943); while he has translated, edited or written prefaces for: E. A. Ashwin's translations of Reginald Scott's Discouerie of Witchcraft (1930); Remy's Demonolatry (1930); Francesco Maria Guazzo's Compendium Maleficarum (1929); Downes's Roscius Anglicanus (being Henri Gouguet's An Examen of Witches ... 1929); and the Malleus Maleficarum (1928). I have drawn particularly upon the last-named work in the 'Rise and Fall of His Satanic Majesty's Empire.'
Literature on the devil is almost as voluminous as that on witchcraft, and to a great degree the two overlap. I have drawn particularly on: Paul Carus, The History of the Devil and the Idea of Evil from the Earliest Times to the Present Day (1900); James Mew, Traditional Aspects of Hell (Ancient and Modern) (1903); Kaufmann Kohler, Heaven and Hell in Comparative Religion (with Special Reference to Dante's Divine Comedy, 1923); Arturo Graf, The Story of the Devil (translated from the Italian by E. N. Stone, 1931); R. Lowe Thompson, The History of the Devil (1929); and P. W. Sergeant, Witches and Warlocks (1936). Esther Forbes's A Mirror for Witches (1928) is a sensitive presentation in fiction of the Salem affair: 'Show me Heaven, and around the corner I will show you Hell.'