The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 42
11.—An Uneasy Warfare
11.—An Uneasy Warfare.
How is it that with a set of principles so light and easy to walk up to, Mr. Stout says that the Freethought "warfare is not an easy one?" It is not like the other sects. They all impose duties requiring care and watchfulness to perform them; they all direct an uphill road, and the overthrow of evil passions and desires, and an effort to live in love and harmony with all men. But it is not so with Freethought people; they have only to remain on this already gained tableau—not descend—and so long as each one follows out his own opinions of what is right he does well. Why should this be called a difficult warfare? But this may not be the sense of Mr Stout's words. It seems rather to be that the warfare refers to aggressive work, or the endeavour to spread the influence of their "non creedo;" for he complains that "Hereditary beliefs, backed, as popular creeds of the day are backed, have great vitality." It is, then, the overthrow of these "hereditary beliefs" that constitutes theirs an uneasy warfare. And so it should be. Well it is so. To the honour of our race is it written. Who amongst us would easily be persuaded to give up our hereditary estate, which was our fathers' before us for generations? especially when the man attempting to influence us, merely tells us that we could get on very well without it; that even if we abandon our inheritance we can still live as moral as before, and enjoy our health as well roaming about the world in lodgings, page 17 as in our ancestral hall. Something more attractive would be necessary to lure us from our possessions. The very fact of its being an ancient possession would make us cling to it with the greater tenacity. This, together with a knowledge that it was a valuable property, a help and not a hindrance in life, would increase our love for it. Doubtless the man who sought to change our minds would find he had no easy task. But then—oh strange inconsistency!—Mr. Stout disclaims all anxiety for new converts. How can this be? Does Mr. Stout stultify himself in such a complete fashion? Well, there are his own words. The difficulty of Freethought warfare lies in persuading men to abjure their old beliefs, and yet the advocates of this action have no anxiety about the result of this suit. Had a hired Freethought lecturer said this we might have understood that he only wished to have people hear him advocate his scheme, but so long as he got his hire he cared not for any other success. This could not, however be Mr. Stout's meaning. He made a mistake somewhere in his zeal to show a wide difference between his sect and all others. What a failure! I would counsel every man
"To look on truth, unbroken and entire.
Truth in the system, the full orb—where truths,
By truths enlightened and sustained, afford
An arch-like, strong foundation, to support.
The incumbent weight of absolute, complete conviction."