The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 42
Doubless the progress of these notions is slow. What a blessing for society! He is a madman who wishes to see the lawlessness of the Revolution of France introduced to previously peaceful lands. We are not so imbecile as to long for such a state of things as society in Russia at present exhibits, and we trust the progress of such principles as the Fresthought Association is declared to advocate may continue, if at all, to move at a slow pace. There is a limit, beyond which liberty is dissolved into license, and such license runs into individual self-will, and self-will would destroy his mother. Yet even Russian agitators are acting under a recognised authority, though they are defying another. They are not so far gone, bad as they are, as to reject all authority, as our friends here desire to do. Never was a greater absurdity uttered than that by Mr Stout. It is impossible for him even to imagine a State without an authoritative head. Then his boast is an empty bauble.
"Mark what unvaried laws preserve each State,
Laws wise as nature, and as fixed as fate."
Logical men can never cluster round the banner of Freethought, if Mr Stout's exposition is correct. They may gather to their ranks the young, the inexperienced, and the men who seek for distinction while reckless of principle; but years will bring experience, sound judgment, and nobler views. As members improve in mental power, they will find Freethought to be rather a bondage, and only those who allow the one idea to warp their faculties will be able to end their days in membership under the rules described; for they are contrary to the inborn principles of human nature, which must rebell against them. Men naturally see this, and nature keeps them from identification with the lusus natural of the Freethought Society. The "ultimate success" for which Mr Stout's ardent soul looks into the future will try the patience of his fellow-members for many years yet to come, and in the end I predict they shall realise that
"Hope deferred maketh the heart sick."
And many will return to the old creeds, and patriotically support the old laws and maxims of their country.