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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 82

Letter II

Letter II.

My dear Frank,—I enclose you a copy of Elliott's last production, written in a state of insanity, just before he committed suicide. It will reach you, I page 12 hope before Ellen's return, as I supposa you would not wish her to see it. You make it a rule, I know, not to discuss theology with women, and I am much of your opinion. When Ellen was a girl I carefully attended to the culture of her mind, and encouraged her to read works of philosophy and science. But though I saw that she possessed a vigorous intellect, I did not dare to carry her beyond the limits of Theism. I feared that for her my faith would be but a system of cold and comfortless philosophy, and that if at some future time, in adversity or suffering, a religion became necessary to her, she would run no slight risk of falling into superstition. I saved her from that danger, by teaching her to believe in a god, compared with whom the god of The Bible is a very indifferent character, But I need not say that my god, though a nobler conception, is just as much a creature of fiction as the other. They are both made by human heads, as idols are made by human hands; only, while the people of the churches and the chapels worship an idol of brass, I gave my daughter an idol of gold, I formed her a god of the purest and noblest ideas, and she still believes it to be real. Of course, some day or other she may discover the deception; and were she to read the enclosed manuscript, she would, I think, cease to believe in the divine benevolence, and next would begin to suspect that the being called God is as much a fabulous creature as Jupiter, Mars, or Apollo. And then comes the great question, "Would she be able to accept our religion, which demands such an utter abnegation of self? Would she even understand it? " I fear that she would lapse in to that state of scepticism and indifference which, in a woman at least, is more odious and harmful than superstition.

I therefore advise you not to show her this manuscript. But read it yourself without delay, for you will be able to enjoy it. It will not make you tremble in your shoes. You have climbed above theology, as the Alpine mountaineer above the clouds.