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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/95

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AGNOSTICISM.

"in the name of all that is Hibernian, why a man should be expected to call himself a miscreant or an infidel"? I might reply to this after the alleged fashion of my countrymen by asking him another question, namely—When or where did I ever say that I expected him to call himself by either of these names? I can not remember having said anything that even remotely implied this, and I do not therefore exactly see why he should appeal to my confused "Hibernian" judgment to decide such a question.

As he has done so, however I reply that I think it unreasonable to expect a man to call himself anything unless and until good and sufficient reason has been given him why he should do so. We are all of us bad judges as to what we are and as to what we should therefore be called. Other persons classify us according to what they know, or think they know, of our characters or opinions, sometimes correctly, sometimes incorrectly. And were I to find myself apparently incorrectly classified, as I very often do, I should be quite content with asking the person who had so classified me, first to define his terms, and next to show that these, as defined, were correctly applied to me. If he succeeded in doing this, I should accept his designation of me without hesitation, inasmuch as I should be sorry to call myself by a false name.

In this case, accordingly, if I might venture a suggestion to Prof. Huxley, it would be that the term "infidel" is capable of definition, and that when Dr. Wace has defined it, if the professor accept his definition, it would remain for them to decide between them whether Prof. Huxley's utterances do or do not bring him under the category of infidels, as so defined. Then, if it could be clearly proved that they do, from what I know of Prof. Huxley's love of scientific accuracy and his courage and candor, I certainly should expect that he would call himself an infidel—and a miscreant too, in the original and etymological sense of that unfortunate term, and that he would even glory in those titles. If they should not be so proved to be applicable, then I should hold it to be as unreasonable to expect him to call himself by such names as he, I suppose, would hold it to be to expect us Christians to admit, without better reason than he has yet given us, that Christianity is "the sorry stuff" which, with his "profoundly" moral readiness to say "unpleasant" things, he is pleased to say that it is.

There is another reference to myself, however, in the professor's article as to which I feel that he has a better right to appeal to me—or, rather, against me, to the readers of this review—and that is, as to my use, in my speech at the Manchester Congress, of the expression "cowardly agnosticism." I have not the report of my speech before me, and am writing, therefore, from memory; but my memory or the report must have played