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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 37


If there is one word above all others which articulates in a breath the supreme sublimity and the most melancholy abasement of human nature,—which carries imagination up to the heights of a heroism so pure and lofty that common lungs gasp for coarser air, and then plunges her into dungeons of superstition so foul with blood and filth that the choke-damp of the coalmine seems innocuous by comparison,—it is assuredly the word Religion. The page of history is lighted up by it, now as by a flood of golden sunshine, and again as by the glare, lurid and smoky, of infernal fires. All that is sweetest and tenderest, bravest and truest, most inspiring and most inspired in the human heart, has been sunned into living beauty by religion; all that is most dark, wrathful, false, crafty, cruel, has been nursed into bloody and deceitful deeds by her influence. Religion, and religion alone, has page 2 had skill to sweep the entire key-board of humanity, evoking alternately the thunders of the hoarsest and harshest bass and the silver melodies that sing to us all we know of the angelic and divine.