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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 8

Correspondence. — To the Editor of the Protestant Standard

page 308


To the Editor of the Protestant Standard.

Sir.—You disapprove of the style of my allusion to the rape of Adam's rib: allow me to inform you that you have unwittingly returned good for evil, and enabled me to achieve a decisive triumph over my own rib, of which I am not a little proud. My wife, you will please to understand, is a most decided trinitarian; and, aware that I occasionally employ an evening in attempting to evoke "more light" for the benefit of the benighted, she has been in the habit of favoring me, now and then, with a little merciless banter, to the effect, that as no one took the trouble to reply to my lucubrations, it was very evident that they were only entitled to the questionable honour of contemptuous silence. Your last issue has terminated my better half's satirical merriment on this score, and has entitled you to the expression of my warmest thanks.

In your leader of the same paper, you reminded your readers of the aggressive character of truth, and contemned the cowardly spirit that prompted many of your country friends to cushion their principles. But the truth is just as dear to the Unitarian as to your good self; and your own invitation to speak out in the interest of truth, might have suggested a less disrespectful bearing towards inquirers after it who are quite as solicitous as yourself to aid in the dissemination of the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

But do you suppose for a single moment that I am to be silenced because the old women of both sexes think proper, in their tantrums, to denounce what I advance as blasphemous? To the statement contained in the 29th and 30th verses of the 1st chapter of Genesis, namely, that God had given to Adam and Eve the fruit of every tree upon the face of the earth for meat, it is true I had the temerity to oppose a contradiction. Is this blasphemy? Then what, I should like to know, is to be said of the 17th verse of the next chapter of the same book, which contains quite as emphatic a contradiction to the allegation in question as my own?

Were, Sir, a correspondent of your paper to inform you, that, to the surprise of all his family, the cat, on the preceding morning, had suddenly jumped up, whilst the breakfast was being disposed of, and repeated the Lord's Prayer in unimpeachable English; or if Captain Smith of the Flying Dutchman had, on his arrival in port, written to say that, whilst in the neighbourhood of the Navigators, the man at the wheel had been nearly scared out of his wits by the sudden appearance of the genuine American Sea Serpent—that it had raised its enormous head over the taffrail and politely requested to be informed of the ship's longitude; and that finally, on being furnished with the information desired, it had gracefully withdrawn, at the same time wishing them bon voyage; would you believe either statement? I trow not. Why then believe biblical absurdities of exactly the same calibre and order, and insist upon everybody following your example? It is true, we imbibed the selfsame absurdities with our mother's milk, and our faith in them grew with our growth, and strengthened with our strength; but having arrived at maturity we thought it high time to put away childish things. You may be sure, therefore, Sir, that I shall not turn boa constrictor at your bidding, and swallow your talkative friend of Genesis, till he has had the benefit of a thorough overhaul. I am free, however, to confess that I am under obligation to you for the correction of one error that I had fallen into with regard to this loquacious reptile. I certainly did say that there could be no talk where there were no brains. Had I enjoyed the advantage of an earlier acquaintance with your long-winded effusions, I should certainly never have made such an egregious mistake as I am prepared to confess. I am now page 309 fully satisfied that there may be talk enough to bore a hole through an iron pot unassociated with the slightest symptom of anything like nous.

But are we to place our "(more) light" under a bushel because you find its radiance rather trying to your tender optics? Are we to keep our pearls out of sight because divers and sundry are unable to discriminate between pearls and paste? You grunt over our jewels in a style that indicates that you do not know what to make of them; but I do not quarrel with you on this score, because I willingly concede to every animal the privilege of using its own language, though it must be admitted that yours is vile, and venomous and vulgar in a superlative degree. Believing in talking snakes, you are doubtless well up in colubrine literature, and hence probably you have acquired your venom, and your propensity to hiss. There is one other creature that is given to hiss, and that is the goose. What a rare felicity it must be to you, Sir, to know that you have the honour to indicate in your bearing the leading characteristics of both the sibilant and envenomed reptile and the feathered shallowpate. Forgive, us, Sir, but we really thought when you talked about duckweed, it might be safely attributed to your confounded impertinence; we now see, however, (and we gladly acknowledge our mistake) that you were altogether prompted to speak as you did by your anserine exigencies, though at the same time we may say that we were not before aware that duckweed was altogether the right sort of pabulum for the family of the immortal Saviours of the Capitol.

I have nothing very serious to complain of with regard to your strictures on my blasphemies. Those who purpose to reanimate dry bones ought not to be surprised at their rattling. On the contrary, they ought to expect it, and to accept it as an encouraging symptom of returning vitality.

But surely you might have spoken of my excellent friend, the Editor of "More Light," in less objectionable terms. I had some thought of asking you what you mean by the abominable nonsense of his not being able to deal with evidence; but second thoughts convinced me that you were not master of your own meaning, or, rather, that you had no meaning to be master of. I am very certain that his powers of analysis ought to excite your envy instead of your snarl; and I am equally certain that he can at any time supply you with material that would prove a nut by far too hard for you to crack; though, to be candid, I am willing to allow that nature in its kindness, has provided you with that peculiar description of jaw that to Samson would have proved a godsend had he had another thousand Philistines to batter and to brain.

But, in conclusion, I may as well say that with the view of avoiding the invidiousness of both comparison and contrast, I took the liberty of clapping the pair of you into my official balance (Libra), when the Unitarian scale went down with such crushing emphasis, that, in the twinkling of an eye, the occupant of the other scale was hurled clean out of sight, extorting from me the involuntary exclamation, "By Jove, we are like the French at Forbach! We have lost a Standard."

Your obedient servant,