Ingersoll (Morse)

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Ingersoll

Ingersoll has had great audiences here in Chicago for his lectures on " Voltaire " and " Miracles and Myths." It can't be all eloquence or curiosity that draws the multitude. It may be said of him also, "The people hear him gladly." They see his points and applaud without reservation. The query is, Who are all these people, and where do they come from? One does not see many faces from the Unitarian churches there—mote, perhaps, from the Ethical Society. But, all told— empty all the Liberal churches and Ethical people in Chicago into McVicker's Theatre, and they would no more than fill the gallery. The great body of Ingersollians are from the outside somewhere. And a very intelligent, well-clad crowd it is. The same was true at Duluth a year ago—a large theatre crowded from floor to ceiling—sitting or standing there over two hours to hear him discourse on "Shakspere," and taking great care to applaud all his religiously heretical talk. It means somewhat.

The Unitarians generally speak of Ingersoll as lacking in culture, not up in all the later Biblical criticisms. All of which may or may not be true without much affecting the common sense of the man. The time will probably come when all this fine "criticism " will carry little weight anywhere. People will live from the facts, experiences, insights of to-day—knowing quite as well as the ancients what each moment or emergency calls for or demands. All those old " inspirations " were born of a genius that yet clings to human nature, and provides men and women more and more with a ready, opportune wit and wisdom, so that they speak and act from themselves, rather than from hearsay or tradition. It is a part of the democratic urge that is so conspicuously liberating the nations and endowing individuals with reason and vim.

Mangasarian's "Luther and Ingersoll," the other Sunday, was a poor interpretation of the latter, describing Ingersoll's work as wholly negative—a denial, and not an affirmation, of truths or virtues. The speaker did not heed his own saying that "one must first comprehend another's thought before he can criticise it."

Sidney H. Morse.