The Dover Public Library website offers public access to a wide range of information, including historical materials that are products of their particular times, and may contain values, language or stereotypes that would now be deemed insensitive, inappropriate or factually inaccurate. However, these records reflect the shared attitudes and values of the community from which they were collected and thus constitute an important social record.

The materials contained in the collection do not represent the opinions of the City of Dover, or the Dover Public Library.

The Philistine Marilla Ricker

The Philistine

Vol. 21, No. 4, September 1905.
Heart to heart talks with Philistines
by the pastor of his flock.
East Aurora, N.H. : Society of the Philistinezs,1905.

Marilla Ricker

Once upon a day it was announced that Clarence Darrow would speak on the "The Rights of the Poor." And feeling poor I decided to attend the meeting.

Mr. Darrow began by saying, " I intend to speak to you about the "Rights of the Poor," but on reconsideration I cannot find that the poor have any rights and therefore I will be obliged to speak on another theme."

Have the poor no rights? Alas, none that are recognized. Respectable people, according to the gospel of Carlyle, are those who ride in gigs; and according to our standard, folks who do not or cannot employ a lawyer, have no rights. Go to a court of justice and ask for a little of their specialty and the first question is, "Where is your lawyer?" Should you go to a court house without money, you can’t get in; but if by chance others get you in, you can’t get out. Come with me to a police court!

All night the police have been gathering them in –drunk, disorderly, petty thieves, street walkers and runaway boys and girls barely out of short clothes, all in together, pooling their depravity.

There is seldom any testimony against the offender but that of the officer who made the arrest. He has his own story well in hand- he has told it so many times! He is bound to justify himself for making the arrest, for every conviction adds to his honors.

Here they come, at the rate of one a minute. Sometimes five minutes is given to trying a case, but rarely. The judge is in a bad temper- he was out late, too.

"Ten days-thirty days. What’s that? Don’t talk back to me, six months!"

There is no habeas corpus for the man without a lawyer, and there is not lawyer for you if you have not money. Justice is a commodity and the price is high.

The names are called, and from the pen, the particular culprit is pulled or pushed before the Bar of Justice, just as we are told we will all be at the Last Great Day.

Dazed, sick, weak from lack of food, excitement, sleeplessness or fear- usually ignorant, what chance is there here for innocence with empty pockets with empty pockets! The hardened ones, who know the process, may put up some sort of defense, but for the accused person who is here for the first time the case is hopeless. There is no opportunity to communicate with friends, even if they somewhere exist, and the tears of protest and appeals for mercy, dumb or expressed, are taken as proof of guilt.

"Guilty or not guilty?" calls a hoarse voice. "Guilty," replies a stammering tongue-"guilty!"
"Five dollars or ten days!"
"I mean not guilty!"

It is too late, a strong hand on your shoulder pushes you along to the pen on the other side where the condemned wait for the "Black Maria." If you have been here before, you do not mind, but if it is your first experience of this kind, horror fills your being and you know what it is to be spit upon and crowned with thorns.

Often the judge means to be kind – he hesitates and sometimes lets the culprits go. But as a rule the police dictate the convictions and their business is to make a record. The idea of the place is that all are guilty until they are proved innocent- better that a hundred innocent should be punished than that one guilty man escape. There is no justice for the man without money in a police court, any more than there are for him beefsteaks in a restaurant. Of course, we know that no person should be without money-that is granted.

But just now we are dealing with conditions, not theories. The arresting officer is attorney for the state- the accused is as helpless as Christ before Pilate.

A sinner? Probably. Yes, and guilty, too,- I grant you that.

But a man or a woman, still- my brother and yours. Yes, and as Old Walt says at sight of the culprit being hurried to his doom, "I am that man!"

Now just supposed you are in bonds, sick, sore and undone from a sleepless night trying to rest upon a plank, amid a howling, laughing, sobbing, cursing mass of humanity. You have done wrong, to be sure, but your throbbing head cannot think of where or what it was- the past seems so murky and confused. There are steel bars in front and solid iron walls on three sides. Thru the bars, now and then, some one in brass buttons stands and stares, or talks in bantering phrases in a way people never do to equals.

Equals? You are behind steel bars, and the only equals you have are those in disgrace. And as you stander there shivering, grasping the bars for support, some one touches your arm and you look around.

But one glance into that face and your resentment oozes away.

It is a woman who speaks to you- surely she is not a prisoner and how she got inside the cage you do not know. She does not belong here. She is free- there is freedom in her very glance. A singular looking woman, tall, mannish, commanding, with iron gray hair. But the voice and manner are those of a woman- motherly, gentle, sympathetic, kind. Still she does not seem to take things very seriously- her self-reliance is contagious. She has courage plus. "There seems to be a mistake somewhere- tell me why you are here?"

Half a dozen prisoners are trying to talk to her, tugging at her skirts, begging her to listen to them. You hear them implore her by name, "Marilla! Marilla! But she hears only you.

"That will do- never mind- don’t lose heart, when your name is called I will be there!" And she makes a memoranda in her note book and passes on to some one else. And there runs through your head a line of scripture you learned in your childhood and which never before meant anything to you, "I was in prison and ye visited me!"

Finally, a hoarse voice bawls your name and you stagger out before the judge. The whole place seems to swim before your vision. There are confused questions and answers, and all you remember is that your Good Angel of Freedom is standing there saying, "Your Honor, I appear for this person and ask for a jury trial. I also request that bail be fixed."

Marilla! Who is Marilla?
I’ll have to tell you- she is Marilla- Marilla Ricker. She is no one else.
Cranky? I think so.
Wheels? By all means.
Bughouse? Beyond a doubt.

She had no predecessors- she never will have a successor; she has no duplicates, and the only person who looks like her is Marilla Ricker.

The worst I can say about Marilla is that she is a lawyer. She was admitted to practice in the city of Washington forty-seven years ago. She was ninety-four years old last June, but she only confesses to sixty-four. However, as she was sixty-four thirty years ago, I figured she is ninety-four now, but I may be wrong in this, for Marilla says time is an illusion; and space, like the Democratic party is a fallacy based on a hypothesis.

Marilla cannot truthfully be called an infant prodigy.

Nobody living can remember when Marilla was any younger than she is now. And there be people who firmly hold that she is a genuine prehistoric- that she was never born and can never die. I first saw her in 1876 at the Centennial in Philadelphia, where I was told the Exhibition was in honor of Marilla’s hundredth birthday. Her tongue now is just as ready as then, her laugh as catching, her wit as nimble, her insight as clear.

Unlike most women, she can listen as well as she can talk. She can look wise and can talk still more wisely. But especially she can listen in a way that will lead you on to tell all you know, and finally make you flounder in unseemliness. "Give the calf rope," is one of her working mottoes.

"Your Honor, and Gentlemen of the Jury, I follow the example of the learned counsel on the other side and submit the case without argument," I once heard her say.

It should be explained that the "learned counsel on the other side" had made a speech two hours long, and had worn everybody’s nerves to a frazzle.

The jury laughed. The judge snickered, buried his nose in a book and then stood up and ordered a nolle pros. in favor of Marilla’s client.

Marilla is big enough to be called by her first name; great enough to waive form, ceremony and all cast-iron dignity. Everybody who knows her loves her; those who do not love her do not know her.

And there are plenty of people who do not know Marilla, and never can because their mental processes run on a totally different schedule from hers; they are not on her wire. But this you can depend on- she makes no effort to adjust her thinkery to that of people who delegate their thinking to others.

There is one word that looms up large in Marilla’s lexicon, and that word is Freedom. Her life has been a struggle and a fight- a fight to give Freedom to others. And in giving freedom to others she has achieved freedom for herself. She has practiced law for nearly half a century, and most of this practice has been in defense of accused people. Guilty or not guilty means little to her. "We are all guilty," she says, "for we have thought the thing and this person possibly was rash enough to do it. Had we been born under the same conditions and lived in the same environment we would have done the same."

Some go to church to watch and pray. Marilla goes to church to watch. But I once heard her quote the prayer of St. Augustine: "O God, I thank thee that thou hast seen fit not to allow me to be tempted this day beyond my strength to resist." And again, "O God, have mercy for the weak- thou hast made the strong able to take care of themselves."

The life business of Marilla has been to be a friend to the friendless- to be a friend even to those who were not friends to themselves.

If a prisoner has money to pay a lawyer, Marilla lets him pay.

But like Louis Agazziz, Marilla has had no time to make money; and in fact, she has often turned it away to defend men and women who had neither money nor friends.

"People who have no friends are those who need them," she often says. And also, "if a man is not a friend to himself, then he needs me."

And another thing that proves Marilla to be a very great and lofty soul is that she has no whine concerning the ingratitude of many of those whom she has helped. People who expect gratitude do not deserve it.

Once Roscoe Conklin successfully defended a man charged with stealing a tray of diamonds. After Roscoe’s argument the jury brought in a verdict of "not guilty," and the judge discharged the prisoner. The poor man was so moved that he fell upon the neck of his attorney and wept tears of gratitude.

Shortly after, the man disappeared, and Conklin felt for his diamond stud, - a thousand dollar brilliant, and found it was gone- clipped clean. Conklin raised a howl you could have heard clear to the White House. Marilla, who happened to be present, only laughed and said, "Roscoe, this is all a part of the game we do, we are playing. Take your medicine. Everything we do, we do for ourselves. The Ego is the all. He has your diamond- you have your Ego and it is quite as dazzling as the diamond. Let the carbon go!"

He of the Hyperion curl tried to laugh but couldn’t. All he could say was, "Of course you laugh- it was not your diamond!"

And Marilla in mock distress said "It was the turquoise that Leah gave me!"


Possibly the fact that Marilla is comfortably rich and has been all her life, is a factor in her equanimity, which word by the way, Buddha said is the greatest one in any language.

A fixed income gives a peace like a dress that fits in the back. But only wise people can keep an estate snug and intact, well reefed against stormy weather. Marilla is a financier- she invests money but does not waste it.

Marilla was married a thousand years ago, and shortly after, her husband passed way leaving her his fortune as he could not take it with him. They say he was a very trustworthy man of excellent mentality, a direct descendant of the great Gin Ricker Shaw. That he had discrimination and great good sense is sure, for did he not have brains enough to marry Marilla?

And then he showed a sensible spirit by dying at an opportune time, for had he lived he would have gone thru life as "Mr. Marilla," or "Marilla’s husband." Only an archangel could be a mate for this woman, no archbishop could.

Marilla is as much bigger mentally than the average man as Dr. Buckley is bigger than an orang-outang.

Marilla has shaken the superstition out of her cosmos, and Dr. Buckley hasn’t. Marilla asks no reward here or hereafter for doing good. She believes the penalty for a wrong act lies in the act, and the reward for doing a good deed is to have done it.

Marilla’s life has been no sacrifice, even if she has toiled for the sinner. Her face has ever been turned toward the East, and beneath her corset beats a heart for all humanity- a heart lavish in its love and loyal as the planets that circle ‘round the sun.

That the woman has ever been a veritable Puritan in her life even her enemies admit. Her name has never been between the putrid lips of scandal. Everywhere she has friends, but no intimates. Neither her heart nor head have ever been in chancery. Freedom has been her watchword- she believes that even love should be free, which is quite different from a belief in free love.

She sits at meat with publicans and sinners, and gamblers and thieves, big and little, call her Marilla. Women of the town cross the street to kiss her cheek and say "God loves you Marilla." Bootblacks follow after her and say, "let me carry your satchel, Marilla- it won’t cost you nothing!"

She is one with the rogues, but she still is not one of them. She is one with the weak, the defenseless, the fallen- those who grope their devious way and stumble, or those who slip and fall in the mire.

She has no words of blame or censure for anybody, even for the fools who misunderstand her. The rogues and fools all punish themselves- she does not have to. and she knows full well that the rogues and fools are one and the same.

In her sympathy Marilla is not maudlin. She does not try to usurp the place of Atlas. She does her work and forgets it. She says a good memory is a fine thing, but a fine forgettery is a finer. She does not ask the evil doer to repent- she asks him to forget. She shakes none of your misdeeds before you. She says, "if you have been a fool, forget it, for the world never will until you do." To Marilla righteousness is only a form of common sense, and wickedness is a mistake.

Marilla does not advise you to wear your past for a chest protector; for if you do, she says you will soon equalize matters by wearing your future for a bustle.

Now here is a woman who knows every form of vice, crime and misdemeanor. She knows the little thieves and big ones, for has she not lived in Washington for forty years? And yet knowing all sin and shame and vice in its every form, the wrong has never smirched her soul. She is an optimistic pessimist. Gentle, kind, moderate in judgement, sympathetic, she knows the best and worst, and yet she neither believes in God nor devil, and in her belief there is no heaven nor hell save as we create them for ourselves every day.

The belief in a future heaven where you will be rewarded for your good deeds she regards as vicious and immoral, and hell to her is a place invented by priests for the sake of making people support them.

Ali Baba says that a horse that will balk will also kick, strike, bite and run away when the breeching breaks.

Years ago when I used to go to the Baptist Church I was taught that people who did not go to church used tobacco, and those who use tobacco, also swear, get drunk, and use the Seventh Commandment for a door-mat. Marilla has not been inside a church for some twenty-seven years, excepting when the preacher was not there, because she says she wanted to save her soul alive. She has never gone forward to the mourner’s bench and has never been born again. She is a doubter by nature and has been an infidel since babyhood. And yet our orthodox friends who are often so hot after their enemies that they hate their friends, admit Marilla is a combination of Penelope and Minerva, will the frills of Phryne absolutely left out.

Marilla is the High Priestess of Free Thought in America- the archbishop of all infidels. She holds that the Christian religion as it exists today has nothing whatever to do with morality. In fact, her keen insight detects the strain of vicarious vice in Purity League prudes and all those good people who hire a hall and proclaim their virtue with a brass band. Marilla maintains that the women who carry the chip of chastity upon their shoulder, usually have a heap to say about purity.

When Gran’ma Granniss takes the stage and pierces the silence with her falsetto against divorce, Marilla seconds your Aunt Susan, who replies that divorce means freedom for women, and liberty to those who are riveted to a beasticus for ninety-nine years. And boldly does she declare that the relationship of the incompatible does not spell morality. With the dictum of a great and good man that St. Paul was a lobster, Marilla fully agrees, and adds, "If it is true that a man’s opinion of womankind is formed by the women he has known best, then that bowlegged and bald little bachelor St. Paul must have been mixed up with a few very bad ones."

Once Marilla went to England carrying a letter of introduction from Chief Justice Chase to the Chief Justice of England. Marilla called on his Lordship at his private Chambers. He was just getting ready to take the Bench, and was arrayed in one of those twenty-five dollar horsehair wigs and a Mother-Hubbard gown. He asked Marilla to sit with him on the Bench; so an impassive Jeems, who was Master of the Wardrobe, was called in and Marilla was soon clothed in her right mind and a dress like those worm by a bloomin’ barrister, you know.

And so in raiment not gaudy or expressed in fancy, Marilla accompanied his Lordship, and achieved the distinction of being the first woman who has held down the woolsack in England- a thing which, had it been known at the time, would have shivered the tight little island from John o’Groat’s to Land’s End.

Marilla was appointed a United States Commissioner by President Grant, and gave decisions that are quoted for their crystalline quality and rare good sense. At that time Washington judges were in the habit of giving cumulative sentences by which a man might be imprisoned for debt for life on some trivial offense. Marilla had a way of letting such prisoners go free, and giving her reasons why, that caused such procedure to become obsolete forevermore in the District of Columbia.

On the question of personal immortality Marilla has decided opinions. She cites that the Buddhists, among whom are many learned men of great spiritual power, constitute nearly one-third of the human race; and they not only do not believe in personal immortality, but hold on the contrary that it would be a curse. They regard the man who hopes for a life after death as beneath them morally, spiritually, mentally. Marilla puts the argument about this way: The belief in ever-lasting life was first evolved by savages, and then taken up by priests who promised an endless life of joy to all who obeyed their edicts. It is a most selfish and harmful doctrine, and by turning man’s attention from this world to another, has blocked progress at least a thousand years.

She says that without this belief there could have been no demonology, no persecution, no hot opposition to science, no fighting of progress at every step, and no continuance of a superstitious dogma into a scientific age.

There is no idea so pernicious in its results as the doctrine of individual immortality. It has formed a leverage for the enslavement of mankind. It has filled the world with gloom and made of man a crawling coward. It has given chains and whips of nettles into the hands of priests since time began, and they have used their weapons for the suppression, repression and degradation of humanity. And all based upon the idea that man has a personal existence after death! So long as that dogma is preached there will be men who pretend to be able to control your place and condition in another world. Let the insignificant little priest in this insignificant little village withhold the rite of holy communion, absolution, or extreme unction from this one and that, and if they die tonight, their souls will wander in torment during all eternity!

To unhorse the priest we do not have to prove that there is no life after death- all we need do is to stand strong on the living truth that we do not know anything about it, and that he knows no more than we do. We can then live our lives as if we were to live always, and death is an endless sleep we have made no mistake. Right living here and now is the part of wisdom, and if there is a life to come, righteousness, honesty and truth are good preparation for it.

Marilla’s plea is for this world and for the men and women still on earth. Use this life right up to your highest and best- let this world be a better place because you are here. And if there is another world, right living here is the fittest preparation for right living there, but the more you live in the present and the less in the future the better off you are here and hereafter, the further you evolve here, the higher your status there. And the way to evolve now is to live now.

The man who repeats at stated intervals the peptonized formula, "" believe in the resurrection of the body," and who further believes in a material heaven, is the only materialist. Yet he is a person who dubs this man or that "materialist." This is the same principal, exactly, that the party who steals your pickle-jar will forever after refer to you as thief.

Whether we live again after death is not determined by our present belief on this subject. If we live again we’ll change our minds, should we now believe death ends all. The soul of the infidel who scoffs immortality- if such there be- will live after death just as if he never scoffed, if individual immortality exists.

No sane man believes in annihilation- nothing is destroyed, nor can it be. Things change their form but not their essence. Coal soot is carbon, and so is the diamond. The diamond is only carbon that has had a peculiar experience- that is all. And it can be turned back into gaseous form and then into soot very quickly.

There are three forms of immortality, taught by different sects. The first is a personal life for the individual after this.

The second is the idea that we are each and all manifestations of a Supreme Life. In other words that there is only one Life and we are all particles and parts of it. When we die our spirits like our bodies return to their original elements and live again in the mass.

The third is a poetic form of immortality, and is that our influence lives, and as we have influenced people, so do they again influence others, and so we see how the influence others, and so we see how the influence of Socrates, Jesus and Emerson can never die. Everybody in the world believes in one of these forms of immortality. The so-called scoffer does not scoff at immortality- he only scoffs at your particular conception of it.

Marilla believes in the scoffer, and points out that he has scoffed superstitions out of many minds, and therefore has done much good. The thing that is too frail to stand scorn, should go down- and does.

Marilla declares that she has more faith in Kellar than she has in Mrs. Pepper. And while she fully realizes that we are surrounded by phenomena too subtle for our crude senses to fully comprehend, she thinks it an absurdity to attribute such phenomena to disembodied spirits- this being quite after the old idea of accounting for thunder by saying it was a manifestation of God’s wrath.

The proposition, "If it isn’t spirits, what is it?" is very bad reasoning.

Dr. Richard Maurice Bucke, of the London Asylum for the Insane, once said that up to 1880, fully forty per cent of all alienation arose from religious mania. Since 1880, there has been in all asylums a marked decrease in religious mania owing to the spread of free-thought and the lessened emphasis on eternal punishment. But the idea of hell and damnation is quite as logical as the dogma of everlasting life, for it is all a bare assumption, anyway.

And so just as long as man is taught that he has an "Immortal soul" that can never die, he is going to fear the future and speculate on his destiny in another world.

We can adjust ourselves to the known and cope with any difficulty we can see, even to going down heroically and gloriously before it in a fair fight, but thought fixed upon a fog that conceals the unknown is a perpetual source of misery and dire unrest.

If love is the finest thing in the world, fear is the worst.

Apprehension paralyzes man’s best efforts, and makes of a demi-god a cringing cur.

Good work can only be done by people who have abolished fear- sublime thoughts come only as we put fear behind.

Fear is the precursor of all overreaching grabbing and clutching for place, pelf and power.

Fear is the prompter of hate, untruth, duplicity, and is the very base and essence of jealousy. The dogma of personal immortality, with its concomitant uncertainty as to your future, has flooded space with quaking fear, filled the sky with nightmares inexpressible, and horrors that are beyond speech. And especially has it clouded the sky of childhood, and polluted the days of innocence with black despair.

But the worst feature of a belief in immortality is that is has given millions of rogues a lever by which they have worked both upon the fears and loves of mankind. All good spiritualists agree that fully one-half of all so-called "mediums" are frauds, and they also admit that most genuine mediums do not hesitate to amend and supplement their peculiar, psychic powers with trickery and untruth- giving their clients their money’s worth- what they wish to hear and what they will pay for.

The entire dogma of endless punishment that was preached for nearly two thousand years has become so repugnant to humanity, that even the orthodox of the orthodox have abandoned it, and are quite willing to say "we do not know." And if pursued with the question what has become of all those millions of children, not a span long, which they and their predecessors consigned to hell, they admit they were possibly mistaken, and say that hell was only a theological necessity devised to make bad men good- and also to make them pay.

The mystery of death, codified by centuries of priests into a belief in an individual immortality has been the greatest single force of the Christian religion; it is still, in its finally drawn forms, the most vital bit of life possessed by the church. Examined in the light of results and of essential influence, there will be found on the credit side of this belief not one beneficent item, excepting the doubtful relief of the dying man who hopes for glory, and the questionable solace of the bereaved who hope to meet loved ones again in person. On the debit side there is every form of evil inflicted by church and churchmen from Constantine’s time to our own.

The dubious credit account is utterly wiped out by the fact that there is a higher and more unselfish ideal of immortality, which demands not perpetuation of the individual as such, and requires no administration by church or priest. In this ideal, personality has no place. Instead there is the demonstrable certainty of the immortality and high purpose of the human race, of the immortality and ever-growing influence of good deeds and good lives, and of the living immortality of worthy and beautiful parenthood. In this ideal there is something positive, natural, noble, worthy of the sternest battle of life. Beside it, the mysticism of a personal individual spirit life clutching for comfort and dodging pain, is weak and lifeless, fitted in every respect to be placed among the discarded beliefs and ideals, which originated in times crude and savage.

It is true, of course, that some gifted men like Dr. I. K. Funk and Alfred Russel Wallace, seem to find evidence of the existence of disembodied spirits. But granted that they are on the high road to important enlightenment, still nothing whatever can detract from the satisfaction obtainable from the purely unselfish ideal of a practical and demonstrable immortality. Could preachers hold up this ideal for a hundred years, as they have held up the dogmas of personal immortality for nineteen hundred years, what strides the world would make- what building for the future generations might be planned!

Marilla says, we want a religion that will pay debts; that will practice honesty in business life; that will treat employees with justice and consideration; that will render employers full and faithful work without grudging or scamping; that will keep bank cashiers true; officeholders patriotic and reliable; citizens interested in the purity of politics and the noblest ideals of the country. Such a religion is real, vital, effective.

But a religion that embraces vicarious atonement, miraculous conception, regeneration by faith, baptism and other monkey business; a religion that promises a heaven of idleness for all those who agree with us, and a hell for those who do not, Marilla regards as barbaric, degrading, absurd, and unworthy.

You own prosperity, power, life, love, land and immortality just as long as you can hold on to them and no longer. Man is only a protozoan wriggling thru a fluid called atmosphere: he is here for but a day and knows neither where he came from nor where he is going.

We are just as immortal as anyone can be today. What boots it how much food there is if we cannot eat! What will it matter to us about immortality if we have no sensation to feel pain at its loss? We have, every moment, all the immortality we can use.

Success is the most hygienic thing of which we know- the glowing, glorious sense of success! Hard work does not kill any one unless it is accompanied with a feeling of failure. To work and believe that all your toil is for naught, that you are losing ground, slipping back, means depression- death. And the belief in personal immortality, with its accompanying threats has forced upon men the thought that this life is a failure- the world a desert drear. When your attention is taken from this world and directed to another, the sense of success vanishes, the body droops; exhilaration gives way to depression and animation either disappears or resolves itself into a feverish hysteria. Correct thinking is largely a matter of bodily condition. And summing up is that we will never produce a great and magnificent race of men and women until we cease all thought of another world and devote ourselves to this.

Emerson, who never preached personal immortality, in his "Over-Soul" had something to say very much to the point. The passage is this:

Revelation is the disclosure of the soul. The popular notion of a revelation, is, that it is a telling of fortunes. In past oracles of the soul, the understanding seeks to find answers to sensual questions, and undertakes to tell from God how long men shall exist, what their hands shall do, and who shall be their company, adding even names, and dates, and places. But we must pick no locks. We must check this low curiosity. An answer in words is delusive; it is really no answer to the questions you ask. Do not demand a description of the countries toward which you sail.

Men ask of the immortality of the soul, and the employments of heaven, and the state of the sinner, and so forth. They even dream that Jesus has left replies to precisely these interrogatories. Never a moment did that sublime spirit speak in their patois. To truth, justice, love, and the attributes of the soul, the idea of immutableness is essentially associated, Jesus, living in these moral sentiments, heedless of sensual fortunes, heeding only the manifestations of these, never made the separation of the idea of duration from the essence of these attributes; never uttered a syllable concerning the duration of the soul. It was left to his disciples to sever duration form the moral elements, and to teach the immortality of the soul as a doctrine and maintain it by evidences.

The moment the doctrine of the immortality of the soul is separately taught, man is already fallen. In the flowing of love, in the adoration of humility, there is no question of continuance. No inspired man ever asks this question, or condescends to these evidences. For the soul is true to itself, and the man in whom it is shed abroad, cannot wander from the present, which is infinite, to a future, which would be finite.

These questions which we lust to ask about the future, are a confession of sin. God has no answer for them, No answer in words can reply to a question of things. It is not in an arbitrary "decree of God," but in the nature of man that a veil shuts down on the facts of tomorrow: for the soul will not have us read any other cipher but cause and effect. By this veil, which curtains events, it instructs the children of men to live in today. The only mode of obtaining an answer to these questions of the senses, is to forgo all low curiosity, and accepting the tide of being which floats us into the secret of nature, work and live, and all unawares, the advancing soul has built and forged for itself a new condition, and the question and answer are one.

Marilla also quotes Dr. J.H. Tilden who says:

There isn’t anything immortal except the elements, and they are in such a constant state of change that type successfully succeeds type, world succeeds world, and necessity succeeds necessity. There is no such thing as immortality of form except to ignorance- and that is optional- a reward offered for being good- and being good, according to general and accepted standard, is to mummify the intellect and refuse to evolve- become immortal in type.

In everything three is constant strife to force change- get rid of the old and take on the new.

The growing man is the best proof that immortality is not what the world needs. The curse of existence is the belief in immortality. The Catholic Church is immortal; orthodoxy of all kinds means immortality of opinion; the ignoramus is an immortal man; those who have no time to read or think, and those who have no inclination for anything except to struggle for money, are immortal beings. Everything that makes no growth is immortal, and continues immortal until revolution rolls it into forgetfulness. Mortality is what we need most; and the quicker we get rid of the present individuality, the sooner we will come into possession of a better. Today is the best of all days; yesterday is gone, and no one but an idler cares to have it return- perpetuated- immortalized.

It is sometimes said that woman is the worst enemy of her sex. But no one ever said this with Marilla in mind. Her life has been devoted to the defense of women. Most of her clients have been women, and much of her business has been to collect debts due to working women by rogues in high places who sought to defraud them.

She has argued for equal rights for half a century. She was an abolitionist with John Brown and Wendell Phillips and stood side by side with Fred Douglass, when to do so was to invite insult and ignominy. She has raised her voice in behalf of the children in mills, mines and factories, and where ever she has found man woman or child standing alone, accused by society or law, by their side she has taken her stand, She has known every president since Lincoln, and all who have lifted their voice for a wide horizon for humanity she has upheld by tongue, pen and pocketbook. She was an evolutionist before "The Origin of the Species" was published and had abolished the devil from her own estate before Bishop Bob did as much for orthodoxy.

This historical essay is provided free to all readers as an educational service. It may not be reproduced on any website, list, bulletin board, or in print without the permission of the Dover Public Library. Links to the Dover Public Library homepage or a specific article's URL are permissible.