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Reminiscences of Charles Bradlaugh

George William Foote

188 pages
Library of Alexandria
When I came to London, in January, 1868, I was eighteen years of age. I had plenty of health and very little religion. While in my native town of Plymouth I had read and thought for myself, and had gradually passed through various stages of scepticism, until I was dissatisfied even with the advanced Unitarianism of a preacher like the Rev. J. K. Applebee. But I could not find any literature in advance of his position, and there was no one of whom I could inquire. Secularism and Atheism I had never heard of in any definite way, although I remember, when a little boy, having an Atheist pointed out to me in the street, Naturally I regarded him as a terrible monster. I did not know what Atheism was except in a very vague way; but I inferred from the tones, expressions, and gestures of those who pointed him out to me, that an Atheist was a devil in human form. Soon after I came to London I found out an old school-fellow, and went to lodge with his family: They were tainted with Atheism, and my once pious playmate was as corrupt as the rest of them. They took me one Sunday evening to Cleveland Hall, where I heard Mrs. Law knock the Bible about delightfully. She was not what would be called a woman of culture, but she had what some devotees of "culchaw" do not possess—a great deal of natural ability; and she appeared to know the "blessed book" from cover to cover. Her discourse was very different from the Unitarian sermons I had heard at Plymouth. She spoke in a plain, honest, straightforward manner, and I resolved to visit Cleveland Hall again.