Note: this is incomplete!
WILLIAM WINWOOD READE, 1838-1875
'The Martyrdom of Man' (1872)   Endnotes by 'Rerevisionist' on Why This Book?

CONTENTS   of   'THE MARTYRDOM OF MAN'
INTRODUCTION   AUTHOR'S PREFACE
CHAPTER 1   WAR:   EGYPT, WESTERN ASIA, THE PERSIANS, THE GREEKS, THE MACEDONIANS, ALEXANDRIA, THE PHOENICIANS, CARTHAGE AND ROME, ROMAN AFRICA, THE ARABS.
CHAPTER 2   RELIGION:   THE NATURAL HISTORY OF RELIGION, THE ISRAELITES, THE JEWS, THE PROPHETS, THE CHARACTER OF JESUS, THE CHRISTIANS, ARABIA, MECCA, THE CHARACTER OF MAHOMET, DESCRIPTION OF AFRICA, THE MAHOMETANS IN CENTRAL AFRICA.
CHAPTER 3   LIBERTY:   ANCIENT EUROPE, THE GERMAN INVASION, THE CASTLE, THE TOWN, THE CHURCH, VENICE, ARAB SPAIN, THE PORTUGUESE DISCOVERIES, THE SLAVE TRADE, ABOLITION IN EUROPE, ABOLITION IN AMERICA, MATERIALS IN HUMAN HISTORY.
CHAPTER 4   INTELLECT:   ANIMAL PERIOD OF THE EARTH, ORIGIN AND EARLY HISTORY OF MAN, SUMMARY OF UNIVERSAL HISTORY, THE FUTURE OF THE HUMAN RACE, THE RELIGION OF REASON AND LOVE.
Legge's Introduction
Robertson's Introduction
Reade's own introduction
Influences on Reade: Mainly Historians
Reade's Influence on Others: Critics, Anthropologists, Joad, H G Wells, General Readers...



WINWOOD READE'S   'The Martyrdom of Man' (1872)

CHAPTER 1   WAR:   EGYPT, WESTERN ASIA, THE PERSIANS, THE GREEKS, THE MACEDONIANS, ALEXANDRIA, THE PHOENICIANS, CARTHAGE AND ROME, ROMAN AFRICA, THE ARABS.
[Top of page]

- 40: '.. Invasions of this nature were on the whole beneficial to the human race. The mingling of a young, powerful people with the wise but somewhat weary nations of the plains [in this case, of the Tigris and Euphrates] produced an excellent effect. And since the conquerors adopted the luxury of the conquered, they were obliged to adopt the same measure for supplying the foreign goods - for luxury means always something from abroad. ..' [This is another of his themes, the need to work to get imports, and consequently the hazard of too much luxury; or something]
  - 50ff: 'There is no problem in history so interesting as the unparalleled development of Greece. ..' [and he explains why etc, including interesting geographical & climatic & transport stuff. Two volumes of Grote's history had been published in 1846.]

Reade's conclusions on war are at the end

CHAPTER 2   RELIGION:   THE NATURAL HISTORY OF RELIGION, THE ISRAELITES, THE JEWS, THE PROPHETS, THE CHARACTER OF JESUS, THE CHRISTIANS, ARABIA, MECCA, THE CHARACTER OF MAHOMET, DESCRIPTION OF AFRICA, THE MAHOMETANS IN CENTRAL AFRICA.
[Top of page]

- 131ff: [Nature treated like men + dreams led to belief in the soul and in Gods. Reade assumes the Christian attitude to religions, as an optional belief system]
- 131: [Description of how men, like poets, attribute human characteristics to the 'elements':] 'Such emotions.. are fossil fancies of a bygone age; they are a heritage of thought from the childhood of our race.' Belief in Gods.
- 132-3: [How wisdom 'issuing from the toothless mouth of a decrepit old man' and dreams, of dead loved ones, give rise to the idea of a 'soul'
- 134: 'The savage has been led by indigestion and by dreams to believe in the existence of the soul after death..' [Cp. Russell on chocolate cake and modern physics]
- 141: '.. a treaty between Hannibal and Philip of Macedonia which Polybius preserved.. oath.. "in the presence of Jupiter, Juno, and Apollo; in the presence of the deity of the Carthaginians and of Hercules and of Iolaus; in the presence of Mars, Triton, and Neptune; in the presence of all the gods who are with us in the camp; and of the sun, the moon, and the earth; the rivers, the lakes, and the waters." ..'
- 142-3: '.. it sometimes happens that the sayings and doings of the tent-god are preserved in writings which are accepted as revelation by the people of a later and better age. Then may be observed the curious and by no means leasing spectacle of a people outgrowing their religion, and belieing that their god performed actions which would be punished with the gallows if they were done by man.'
- 143: 'The mind of an ordinary man is in so imperfect a condition that it requires a creed - that is to say, a theory concerning the unknown and the unknowable in which it may place its deluded faith and be at rest. But whatever the creed may be, it should be one which is on a level with the intellect, and which inquiry will strengthen, not destroy. ..'
- 144: '.. it was not a Greek who first discovered or invented the one god, but the wild Bedouin of the desert. ...'
- 145: 'The earth and the wells and some uncouth stones, the sun, the moon, and the stars are almost the only materials of superstition that the Bedouin can employ; and that they were so employed we know. Stone worship and star idolatry.. even now are not extinct. ...'
- 145ff: [History of the Jews according to Reade:] '.. before the dawn of Greek and Roman life, a Bedouin sheikh named Abraham, accompanied by his nephew Lot' etc; 146 'Up to this time the children of Abraham were Bedouin Arabs.. They worshipped Eloah or Allah.. It was the settlement of the clan in a foreign country .. which made the Israelites a peculiar people. It was the sale of the shepherd-boy.. [presumably Joseph - RW] which created a destiny for the House of Jacob.. When Joseph became a great man he obtained permission to send for his father and his brethren. .. The old Arab.. was ushered into the royal presence. .. and.. was dismissed with a splendid gift of land. .. Jacob died... Joseph had married the daughter of a priest of Heliopolis..
    When Joseph.. died the connection between the Israelites and the court came to an end. They led the life of shepherds... the twelve families expanded into twelve tribes, and the tribe itself became a nation. The government at Memphis observed the rapid increase.. with alarm. .. etc'
- 195: [Change in character between a persecuted sect - "See how these Christians love each other!" - and an established religion:] 'It is evident that bishops who possess large incomes and great authority etc.. In all great movements of the mind there can be but one heroic age, and the heroic age of Christianity was past. The Church became the state concubine; Christianity lost its democratic character.. etc'
- 226-229: [Description of Niger river and vegetation and trade in salt:] 'in ancient days.. salt.. from the mines of Bilma [an oasis about 400 m north of Lake Chad] and Toudenyi [over to the west, on a caravan route, south of Algerian border], in the desert.
    [The Tuaricks before Carthage:] .. But at a period far remote, before the foundations of Carthage were laid, a Berber nation, now called the Tuaricks, [Tuaregs now at about the southern border of Algeria] overspread the desert, and conquered the oases and the mines. .. levy toll.. raids.. rich pastures .. of the black country..'
    [Continues with powerful Morocco (the Baghdad of the west) and splendid Timbuctoo:] '.. the position of Timbuctoo in reference to Morocco was precisely that of Meroe to Memphis or to Thebes.' Crossing the Sahara possible 'now' [not sure when this is meant to be; obviously must be after Mahomet, before 16 century firearms] the camel was bred, the famous Mehara strain, by the Tuaricks; lyrical description of Arab merchants 'crossing the yellow seas' to the banks of the Niger.. Theological colleges.. public libraries.. camels.. negroes.. Plato and Aristotle.. glories of Granada were reflected in Timbuctoo.
- 229-230: [16th Century:] Moorish emperor despatched harquebusiers across the desert who 'everywhere triumphed like .. Cortes and Pizarro.. last exploit of the Moors. After the conquest of Granada by the Christians and of Algeria by the Turks, Morocco, encompassed by enemies, became a savage and isolated land; Timbuctoo, its commercial dependent, fell into decay, and is now chiefly celebrated as a cathedral town.
    [Arab cotton:] Arabs.. cotton.. Soudan one of the largest cotton-growing areas in the world.. Its Manchester is Kano.. '

CHAPTER 3   LIBERTY:   ANCIENT EUROPE, THE GERMAN INVASION, THE CASTLE, THE TOWN, THE CHURCH, VENICE, ARAB SPAIN, THE PORTUGUESE DISCOVERIES, THE SLAVE TRADE, ABOLITION IN EUROPE, ABOLITION IN AMERICA, MATERIALS IN HUMAN HISTORY.
[Top of page]

- 253 ff: [Well in the desert at what's now Mecca caused it to become important on trade route]
- 270: [Lyrical description of Vasco da Gama's triumphant return to Lisbon with spices, and a celebration, and sailors telling of their voyage and marvels etc; Mozambique etc]
- 271: 'That night, the Venetian ambassador .. wrote to his masters.. a strong fleet was being prepared.. intended to conquer India. The Venetians saw that they were ruined..' [There's a similar passage on being ruined about Mecca, marooned when a sea route west-east with a six monthly alternating wind was found successful]
- 295: [SLAVE TRADE: Years after the French Revolution described Dickens-style, '.. the last mob-rising was extinguished by the artillery of Buonaparte. .. The age of revolutions for a time was past; .. Tom Paine took to drink; the English reign of terror was dispelled; the abolitionists again raised their voices on behalf of the negro..' [Reade seems to imply these things were causally connected]
- 296: [UK ABOLITION 1807..] 'But the slave-trade was not extinguished by the "sentimental squadron." .. English [he must mean UK?] abolition 1807, but 'English vessels and English markets only', so gunboats etc needed to police it [Note: conflict of interest: Peacock has something to say on this: contradiction between abolition and buying cheap stuff from overseas, I think] [Continues on profitability; worth comparing with drug trade?] In 1852, bribery in Brazil was 'put an end to.. that great market was for ever closed..' Yet still Cuba cried More! until in 1861..
-297: [US colonies against Britain: they had little community of feeling, so 'it was often predicted that the colonies would not unite', and Reade says after Boston Port had been closed and the red coats driven back, the 'old jealousy reappeared.'
-298: [And CIVIL WAR in US:] .. 'At the time of the [US] Revolution, negro slavery existed in all the colonies without exception. .. Slavery will only pay when labour can be employed in gangs beneath an overseer and where work can be found for a large number of men without cessation throughout the year. In the culture of rice, sugar, cotton, and tobacco, these conditions exist; but in corn-growing lands labour is scanty and dispersed, except at certain seasons... Slaves in the North were.. employed.. only as domestic servants..'
-309-310: [Sums up the importance of Africa:] '.. universal history.. Egypt has assisted the development of man by educating Greece, Carthage by leading forth Rome to conquest, .. even the obscure Soudan, or land of the negroes, has played its part in the drama of European life. [Here he omits trade across Africa and the once-great state, he claims, of Morocco]
The slave-trade must be estimated as a war; though cruel and atrocious in itself, it has, like most wars, been of service to mankind. ..' [This seems an odd statement; perhaps derived from popularised Darwin?; see later for similar extract]
    .. Respecting the prospects of the negro, it is difficult for me to form an opinion; .. hopeful view. The negroes are imitative in an extraordinary degree, and imitation is the first principle of progress. They are vain and ostentatious, ardent for praise, keenly sensitive of blame. ...

CHAPTER 4   INTELLECT:   ANIMAL PERIOD OF THE EARTH, ORIGIN AND EARLY HISTORY OF MAN, SUMMARY OF UNIVERSAL HISTORY, THE FUTURE OF THE HUMAN RACE, THE RELIGION OF REASON AND LOVE.
[Top of page]

- 329: 'Mind is a property of matter. Matter is inhabited by mind. ..' p xvi of Robertson's Introduction implies Reade may follow Büchner or Clifford with his "mind stuff". [It was possible to believe the mind could exist in a disembodied form, as is necessary to believe in life after death; though this must have seemed rogressively less possible]
- 336: 'The chimpanzee is not so large a creature or so strong as the gorilla, but, as I was informed by the natives.. the chimpanzee is the more intelligent of the two. In the same manner our ape-like ancestors were inferior to the chimpanzee in strength and activity, and its superior in mental powers.' [Joke: Amusing to find him praising the chimp; cp. Russell on Blake and the tiger, Darwin and the earthworm. Struck me that a joke could be made on the basis that perhaps human types are projected into apes; perhaps Sylvester Stallone admirers would praise small gorillas, for example?]
- 351-2: [Reade looks at curiosity: '.. fire.. remarkable knowledge of herbs.. decoctions.. food-seeking.. passion for inquiry.. scientific man, .. even in his last hours observe his own symptoms with interest..'], then at imitation, which he puts very high: '.. young animal learns.. feed.. toilet.. eat.. sing.. all persons.. reflect.. the accent and demeanour of those with whom they live. .. Red Indians are not imitative.. negroes imitate like monkeys, and.. are preachers, traders, clerks, and artisans.. Mozart began by copying Bach; Beethoven began by copying Mozart. .. Goethe's mind.. was based upon his imitative instincts; .. Michelangelo saw a man modelling in clay in the garden of Lorenzo, and was seized with the desire to become a sculptor;..'
- 353: [Music is a language, he thinks; cp Dawkins' central nervous system idea]
- 363: [Conventions in clothing, nudity, underclothing etc]
- 364: [Reade thinks matrimonial selection has resulted in qualities in women:] '.. selected only for their strength.. hard, coarse, ill-favoured.. Poor men select their domestic animals for utility: rich men select them for appearance. In the same manner, when husbands became rich they chose wives according to their looks. .. long hair.. By the continued selection of long-haired wives the flowing tresses of the sex have been produced. .. complexion.. gracefulness of curve.. not less our creation than the symmetry and speed of the racehorse, the magnificence of garden flowers, and the flavour of orchard fruits. ..'
- 372-375: [Reade summarises his universal human history, starting with Darwinian-style Period of War, in which in keeping the clan alive they are ordered by Nature to 'acquire.. agriculture, domestication, and navigation; .. fire and its uses in cooking, in war, and in metallurgy; ..'; then with the feeble rise of intelligence, Religion; then
    373-4 Liberty, which 'belongs only to Europe and to modern times'. And finally '..difficult to find a title.. we have as yet no word which expresses at the same time the utmost development of mind and the utmost development of morals. ..'
- 383-4: '.. no industry in Rome. By day the Ostia road was crowded with carts and muleteers.. silks and spices... marble.. timber.. grain..; and the carts brought nothing out but loads of dung. London turns dirt into gold. Rome turned gold into dirt. ..'

Reade's Conclusions on War
- 412: '.. Nature has raised us.. by provisional expedients.. the principle which in one age effected the advancement of a nation, in the next age retarded the mental development, or even destroyed it altogether. War, despotism, slavery, and superstition are now injurious to the progress of Europe, but they were once the agents by which progess was produced. ..'
- 413 has a long passage praising war; or praising war in the past.

'By means of War the human intelligence was brightened, and the affections were made intense; weapons and tools were invented; foreign wives were captured, and the marriages of blood relations were forbidden; prisoners were tamed and the women set free; prisoners were exchanged, accompanied with presents; thus commerce was established, .. and men were first brought into amicable relations... By War the tribes were dispersed.. By War the tribes were compressed into the nation. .. War .. founded the Chinese Empire.. locked Babylon, and Egypt, and India. .. developed the genius of Greece. .. planted the Greek language in Asia, and so rendered possible the spread of Christianity. It was War which united the world in peace from the Cheviot Hills to the Danube and the Euphrates. .. saved Europe from the quietude of China. .. made Mecca the centre of the East. .. united the Barons in the Crusades, and.. destroyed the feudal system. .. United Italy was formed.. by the war of '59, '66, and '70. The last war .. united the Teutonic nations.. [Franco-Prussian] .. The American War emancipated four million men.. But the Crimean War was injurious... ' [now he goes on to civilised regions warring in intermediate spaces]

Index gives WAR, as the chief agent of civilisation in Assyria, Babylon, Carthage [sic], Egypt, Ethiopia, Greece, India, Macedonia, Nineveh, Persia, Phoenicia, Rome, Soudan

Reade's Conclusions on Supernatural Religions
  - 430: 'The following facts result.. Supernatural Christianity is false. God worship is idolatry. Prayer is useless. The soul is not immortal. There are no rewards and there are no punishments in a future state.'






Legge's Introduction (apparently written about 1909) to The Martyrdom of Man
[Top of page]
[Much of this was taken from audiotape; punctuation and layout may not be as in the original]
  - .. born at Murrayfield, near Crieff on 26th December 1838 ['Dictionary of National Biography.. plainly a mistake'] of a family distinguished in the annals of the civil and military services of the honourable East India company. He was the eldest son of William Barrington Reade of Ipsden House, Oxfordshire, a landowner whose younger brother was Charles Reade, the author of 'The Cloister and the Hearth' and of many other famous novels and successful plays. Winwood Reade's mother was Elizabeth, daughter of Capt John Murray R N, herself the inheritrice of an estate in Scotland, and she survived him by many years, as did his five brothers. He was educated first at Henley Grammar School, and afterwards by Dr Behr at Hyde House, Winchester, and on 13th March 1856 matriculated at Magdalene Hall, Oxford, not then known by its revived name of Hertford College. The Hall was then of no great reputation, and Reade did not bring to it the mental discipline that he might have acquired at one of the great public schools, at that time rough but efficient nurseries of manners. If his own novel of 'Liberty Hall' be taken as an autobiography of this part of his career it would seem that he fell at Oxford into a somewhat dissipated set. In 1859 Darwin had published his 'Origin of Species' and the doctrine began to filter through. [Reade uses a phrase The Law of Growth, p 135] Among the many misrepresentations was the statement unwarrantably put into Darwin's mouth that man was descended from the apes and Paul Du Chaillu, a Frenchman domiciled in America, exhibited in London three stuffed specimens of the gorilla, which he described as a newly-discovered anthropoid ape of great ferocity and intelligence, living in the forests bordering on the Gaboon, [this river mouth's on the west coast of Africa, almost exactly on the equator; it seems a very short river] and Reade wanted to go and see for himself. His tastes early led him to the study of natural science, and in his veins ran the blood of many who had sought fortune overseas. .. Dr Grey, assistant keeper at the zoological department of the British Museum, in May 1861 wrote letters to the newspaper headed 'New Travellers' Tales'. ..
    Then he went to the Congo [mouth also on west coast of Africa, c 6 degrees south] which he ascended for over 150 miles [on a map this looks a pretty insignificant fragment of the Congo], and although he only followed in the footsteps of Livingstone he was one of the first of modern writers to describe the Portuguese city of San Paulo de Loanda [this is a port on Angola coast], and the island of San Thom‚ [probably St Thomas Island, Portuguese, approx on equator] which lately attained notoriety for its export of slave-grown cocoa. He went to.. the Casemanche River as far as Sedhu, returning to take passage from Bathurst [presumably the Bathurst in Gambia, almost the very westmost point of the African continent] whence he visited the falls of Barraconda, and then went back to the coast and up to the Senegal. He studied the slave trade at close quarters, and made the voyage to Loanda in a Portuguese slave-ship which was stopped and searched by a British cruiser. [See photocopy for notes on British Stop and Search powers.] At the time he was hardly 24. He had no knowledge of any African language, or even of Arabic, though he managed to acquire some acquaintance with Portuguese. He was practically unarmed, though he had as he tells us a large unloaded duck-gun borne behind him as an emblem of dignity and power. He determined that a knowledge of medicine was one of the most important aids to an explorer of savage countries, so he entered as a student at St Mary's Hospital Paddington. He remained three years and on the outbreak of the cholera epidemic in autumn 1866 volunteered for and received the charge of the cholera hospital at Southampton. He continued with the novels. ...
    His books, he thought, were trifling and ephemeral. He longed to make another red line on the map of Africa, so he besieged all the businessmen dealing with the west coast of Africa with offers of his services as an agent, intending to remain for a time patiently upon the coast, making natural history collections, studying the native languages and customs, awaiting the opportunity to plunge into the interior. Perhaps it was because he had neither business training nor had given any signs of it, or perhaps the firms did not trust a subordinate who did not disguise his intention of using them as a stepping-stone. They all declined, until the secretary of the Royal Geographical Society introduced him to Mr Andrew Swanzy, head of an important firm then trading with the Gold Coast. Mr Swanzy was opposed to Reade in politics at a time when politics made a more complete dichotomy of society than at present, but he had for some time meditated doing something for the cause of African exploration. .. Dahomey, the most savage state of Africa.. [long strip, northerly, just west of Nigeria and with the Niger near or at its north end] .. Almost losing his life [at various places] ...
    He did wonders, considering his age and inexperience. He nearly got to Bamaku, the highest point on the Niger reached by Mungo Park in 1747. He had long been a Fellow of the Geographical Society. He did not receive their gold medal, of which he once speaks as the distinction he most coveted. Still, he took no observations. He left behind his sextant and his artificial horizon that he had been given. The year that 'The African Sketchbook' appeared, the Ashanti War broke out, [Ashanti seems to be an area, about a hundred miles inland from, north of, the Gold Coast] and Reade, thinking with great reason that his knowledge of the coast combined with his literary experience, offered his services to The Times as their correspondent. They accepted. On 12th December 1873 he embarked with Sir Garnet Wolseley, as he then was, on board the SS Ambrose of the West African Line. He went all through the war which followed. He attached himself to the 42nd foot (black watch) in whose ranks he fought at the Battle of Amoaful. He got dysentery and fever.
    ... his works do not reveal any marked literary gift. He was always digging into the works of encyclopaedic writers like Buckle [Vol 1 published as No 13 in Thinker's Library], [Herbert] Spencer, Tyler, and Lubbock. He seems seldom to have consulted their sources or to have attempted to strike out a line for himself in original research. The novels were indulgent and he put his own ideas into these peoples' mouths.
    [Footnote: his three heroines, Margaret in "Liberty Hall", Maddalena in "See-Saw", and Margaret in "The Outcast", were what may be called the patient Griselda type, whose only function is to listen to the preachments of their lovers and to comfort them in their struggles while they themselves meekly endure the hardships into which the wilfulness of these last thrust them.]
    A book [The Martyrdom of Man] that he wrote in great measure to ease his conscience was destined, in spite of the most violent opposition,
Examples: No-one could be found to say a good word for the book. Newspapers like The Times, The Spectator and The Academy refused to notice it in their columns. The Saturday Review, in a long and unfair article, said 'it is wild, mischievous and we should hardly be wrong if we added blasphemous..' and deplored the fact that a book which began so well should end so ill. The Athenaeum described it as a thoroughly worthless book, needlessly profane and indecent, with a vulgarity which would at once frighten any schoolboy off who might otherwise be in danger of falling a convert to the religion of reason and love. These diatribes were entirely ineffective. The book sold well. In the 37 years that have elapsed, [NB - this is puzzling, since first publication is given by Harvey, Oxford Companion to English Literature, as 1872; the introduction probably was to a 1909 edition. J B Bury gives the date somewhere as 1871.] upwards of 15,000 copies of it has been sold. This demand has been perfectly spontaneous, no favourable review of it having appeared until 1906, when the book, which remained in all respects unaltered, and no attempt has been made to increase its sale by advertisements
to make its way where his other endeavours failed. It is still read with pleasure by a large and increasing public among the generation which sprang up after his death. Such a phenomenon is almost without parallel in the history of literature and cannot I think be attributed merely to the subject-matter of the book. Perhaps Reade's style had benefitted, as sometimes happens, by the long period of literary idleness that it underwent at Falabar, when he found it impossible to write anything intended for the public. Or perhaps it was purified by the abandonment of the striving for effect. 'The Martyrdom of Man' shows just that touch of genius which is lacking in its author's romances and travel books and merits in full measure the eulogies which such different critics as Sir Henry Rawlinson, Charles Reade, and Sir Harry Johnston have bestowed on its literary style.
    His own account is he first intended to write a history of Africa, showing its connection with that of the more familiar quarters of the world, that he found that this entailed a history of all religions from that primitive folk down to Islam, the last comer among world religions, and that to these he added a sketch of the slave trade made for another purpose, and a summary of a projected work on the origin of the human mind which the publication of Charles Darwin's 'Descent of Man' rendered abortive. No doubt this describes with exactness the actual stages of the book's evolution, but we have seen that seven years before 'The Martyrdom of Man' he had been possessed by the idea of writing the history of the world, and it is probably with this idea that he collected and digested the great mass of material necessary for the present book.
    It may be said at once that it came to fill a most undesirable gap in the knowledge of most of us. In the system of education prevailing when he wrote, and things do not seem to have materially altered since, the schoolmaster's first axiom was that it was better to know one or two things accurately than to have a superficial knowledge of a great many, and specialization reigned supreme in history as in all branches of learning. One scholar devoted his attention, for instance, to the Peloponnesian War, while another made himself an authority on the struggle between Rome and Carthage. Both would have regarded as beside the mark any attempt to show how either conflict affected the course of modern history or the march of civilization. As for the history of the east as known to the ancients beyond the classic regions of Greece and Rome, this was abandoned in all academic circles to explorers like Layard and curators of museums like Birch, while the prepossessions with which it was approached were shown by the fact that the only collective name given to it was that of 'Biblical archaeology'. [Note: most of this appears to apply at the present day] Only insofar as it was necessary for the better understanding of the Bible was the history of Egypt, of Babylonia, and of the countries that lie between thought fit for the information of the general reader, or in other words the man who did not wish to make professional use of his knowledge.
    [Footnote: Someone, notes Legge, who had got high honours in the historical tripos at Cambridge was shocked by the statement that Alexander the Great had changed the whole course of history. He informed me that, as a general, Alexander was not to be thought of with Julius Caesar. His conquests in Asia were so ephemeral as to be only comparable with the invasion of Herodotus's scythes. (Is this a misprint for Scythians?)]
    From this state of things Winwood Reade was the first to deliver us. For the first time he gave us, with a few bold strokes, the history of Greek and Roman cultures seen not as the fount and origin of civilization but in its proper place as a mere episode in the course of universal history. To this he joined the history of nations that had preceded Greece and Rome on the one hand, and on the other that of the people subjugated by the Mohometan conquest, the ramifications of which in Africa he had investigated at first hand. Nor was this done in the dry as dust manner dear to instructors of youth, nor a controversial style almost forced upon those experts who try to act as guides through undiscovered territories. For authorities he refers us to books like Wilkinson's 'Ancient Egyptians', Bunsen's 'Egypt's Place in Universal History', Rawlinson's 'Herodotus', Layard's 'Assyria', Grote's 'History of Greece', Gibbon's 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire', Macaulay's 'History of England', which had long been accepted by the public.
    He anticipated the modern German method which puts into the hand of the student of any subject the Encyclopedie, in which the fundamental and best-ascertained facts are broadly stated, before introducing him to the Handbuch and the Lehrbuch [handbook esp. technical manual, & school textbook, gives my dictionary; an 1889 Lehrbuch is listed in my chronology; and in 1931 German terminology still lived - cf 'An Outline of Knowledge'], and the rest, in which both facts and authorities are more or less exhaustively discussed. If such a book were written in the present day it would probably begin not with Egypt but with Babylonia as the cradle of civilization, nor would it omit all mention of the great empire of the Hittites who once ruled over nearly the whole of Asia Minor and fought on equal terms against both Egypt and the Mesopotamian powers, and of the high culture of the eastern Mediterranean which Dr Arthur Evans has just recovered for us.
    The comparative study of religions as a science has sprung up since 'The Martyrdom of Man' was written. None of its professors would now, I think, derive all worship, as does Reade, following Herbert Spencer, from a fear of ghosts, nor would any account of the early days of Christianity be considered complete without some notice of the rival eastern religions, such as the Alexandrian Isis, the Persian Mithras, and the different heretical sects called in sub-apostolic times 'Gnostics', whose survivors, under their then-name of Manichaeans, were in the Middle Ages to wrest for a time nearly all of Southern Europe from the Catholic Church. Yet these gaps are relatively small when we consider the canvas covered. Had Reade been content to make his book merely a history of the world, it might by this time have come to be accepted as a classic, but he was by nature and training an opportunist, and often entered upon an undertaking with one plan and continued it with another, as we see from the way he went to the Gaboon to prove the truth or falsehood of Du Chaillu's assertions, then explored all the rivers of the coast. Similarly, six years later he converted his quasi-diplomatic mission to Falaba into a search for the source of the Niger and then a visit to the gold mines of Bouré. He had thought long and deeply on religious subjects, and came to the conclusion that the current Christianity was false. From a conclusion of this kind to the attempt to convert everyone who would listen to him to an acknowledgement of its truth was but a step, just as Charles Reade in his novels denounced the conduct of prisons, lunatic asylums, and now trades unions, so his nephew was compelled to append to his universal history a denunciation of his contemporary Christianity. He summed it up in his thesis: Supernatural Christianity is false. God worship is idolatry. Prayer is useless. The soul is not immortal. There are no rewards, there are no punishments, no future state. However, he does not seem to have been an atheist, for so far from denying the existence of God he goes out of his way in all his writings to assert it. When he affirms that the time would come when man will be perfect he will then be a creator who will therefore be what the vulgar worship as a god. He is careful to assert that even then he will in reality be no nearer than he is at present to the First Cause, the Inscrutable Mystery, the God, and a belief in this supreme being seems to have been the strongest of his convictions. He said [in The Outcast, I think] I believe in God the incomprehensible whose nature man can never ascertain. He did not indeed believe in a personal creator, because the dilemma of Epicurus, that the creator cannot at once be omnipotent and benevolent. From this dilemma none of the great monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, seems to provide a way of escape. The only way of avoiding it is to believe that the supreme power is not a mind but something higher than mind, not a force but something higher than a force, not a being but something higher than a being, something for which we have no words and no ideas.
    .. It is lookers-on that see most of the game. He announced that he expected three inventions, which may perhaps be long delayed, but possibly near at hand: the first the discovery of a motive force to take the place of steam, with its cumbrous fuel of oil or coal; secondly, the invention of aerial locomotion, and thirdly the manufacture of flesh and flour from the elements by a chemical process in the laboratory. [Note: omission of prediction of First World War; oddly, he almost ends his 'war' chapter with the destruction of Carthage; in view of his investigations of slavery etc this seems an odd Victorian carry-over, neglecting countless other wars and understating the possibility of European war]  ....'


Robertson's Introduction to 'The Martyrdom of Man'
[Top of page]

  - John M Robertson: Bradlaugh's mantle had fallen on him, said Russell. Bradlaugh died in 1891.
  - NOTE ON PUNCTUATION ETC: This, Thinker's Library, edition is typeset differently from the earlier version; I photocopied several pages, and found this. The punctuation is slightly simplified, commas dropped, a comma replaced by a semi-colon, a paragraph break introduced in a huge paragraph, and so on; and capitalisation is changed: the Law of Growth, Love, Father-spirit, a Federation of Deities, Human Progress, the Empire [of Rome] are not capitalised in the later version. On the other hand, the Church and the Crown are capitalised in both. Some words which seem legitimately capitalisable in the earlier version aren't: fatherland, viceregent. And some words not capitalised in the early version are in the Thinker's Library: north star. Another difference is the occasional use of italics in the earlier version to indicate a quotation (in both cases double quotes are used too); this is dropped
  One has to hope the text wasn't altered; I found no differences in sample of 9 pages. The pagination is different, though not much, because the text has been narrowed but lengthened to fit the slightly different format.
 
  - Introduction by John M Robertson, who introduced 'Gibbon on Christianity', and wrote 'A Short History of Christianity' and 'Letters on Reasoning', Nos. 11, 24, 50 respectively of The Thinker's Library.
 
  - vii: Gladstone in an 1872 address protested against the book. [Along with Strauss's 'The Old Religion and New'.] Welcome from 'militant rationalists.. at.. decade of maximum "neology".. in .. 19th C.'
 
  - '.. the present writer was struck by the number of avowals.. men of business, politicians, statesmen - as to the deep and lasting impression..'
 
  - To my surprise, the Author's Preface listed all the books, and more, that Legge put in his introduction. So I've modified my 'Influences' notes accordingly. xxii: 'I wish.. to impress upon the reader that there is scarcely anything in this work which I can claim as my own.'
 
  - Shelley, W K Clifford, Matthew Arnold, Macaulay, Buckle, Comte and the importance of economics, see next section
Influences on Reade; Mainly Historians
[Top of page]

  - Originally I took this from Legge; in fact though Reade's own introduction gives more information
 
  - Darwin, presumably. [I wrote this before reading Reade's introduction; p xxii says he'd intended to write The Origin of Mind but 'Mr Darwin's Descent of Man has left little for me to say.. I therefore merely follow in his footsteps..'
  - Shelley and Byron (Robertson's introduction, pp x and xiv) and Matthew Arnold's poem The Future pp 394 ff 'to which Reade forcibly readjusts his own outline'
  - W K Clifford mentioned p xiii by Robertson as similar man (but scientific)
  - p xv of Robertson says economics is important but rulers busily or blusterously rule without it; 'So it has been from the beginning, as Reade shows us.'
  - Mungo Park, Stanley and Livingstone
  - Buckle: Robertson says '.. man's progress as a process first of environmental and later of social or intellectual causation.. In the matter of.. style, fortunately, he followed Buckle rather than Comte.. / no such master of actual history as Buckle; .. the final fervours of the theistic Buckle probably did much to evoke a counter-fervour..'
  - Macaulay: Robertson maintains Macaulay's picture of early Roman life in preface and introduction to 'Lays of Ancient Rome' 'stirred his imagination'
 
  [Notes from Harvey, OCEL:]
  [Herbert] Spencer
  Henry Thomas Buckle, 'no school or college training': 'History of Civilization in England' 1857 vol 1, 1861 vol 2; latter includes Spain 5-19th century, Scotland 18th century, illustrating his scientific method 'with special regard to physical conditions.. such as their climate and soil.'
  Tyler: no information. [Adams' Manual gives Tylor as author of two books, the second 'Primitive Culture: Researches into the Development of Muthology, Philosophy, Religion, Art, and Custom. 2 vols 1871' with a description of 'some of the subjects']
  Sir John Lubbock, 1834-1913: banker, MP, interested in ancient monuments [he became 1st Baron Avebury; he 'secured the passing.. in 1882 of the Act for the Preservation of Ancient Monuments' and insects]. He wrote abundantly, but mostly after the publication of 'The Martyrdom of Man'; the relevant books here could only have been 'Prehistoric Times' 1865, 'the Origin of Civilization' 1870. Other works 'which enjoyed great popularity' include 'the list of the Hundred Best Books'. Adams lists the more important chapters of 'Prehistoric Times', including The Bronze Age, The Stone Age, The Tumuli, The Lake Inhabitants of Switzerland..
  Bunsen's 'Egypt's Place in Universal History' - no information.
  Sir John Gardner Wilkinson, 1797-1875, who wrote 'Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians' 1837-1841. '.. arrived independently at conclusions regarding hieroglyphics identical with those of Champollion. ..
  George Rawlinson, 1812-1902: 'The History of Herodotus' 1858-1860 accompanied by historical and ethnological notes for which his brother provided much material. [On Egypt]
  Sir Austen Henry Layard, 1817-1894, excavator of Nineveh; a book of the title 'Assyria' isn't recorded by OCEL, but four titles are, earliest being 'Niniveh [sp?] and its Remains' 1848-9.
  George Grote, 1794-1871. 'History of Greece', eight volumes, 1846-56
  Edward Gibbon, 1737-1794, 6 vols, 'History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire' published 1776-1788
  Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1800-1859, 'History of England', 4 vols, 1849-1855]
 
  Following in Reade's introduction, but not in Legge:
  Ethiopia/ Abyssinia: Bruce, Baker, Lepsius
  Carthage: Heeren, Niebuhr, Mommsen
  East Africa: Vincent, Guillain, Hakluyt Society
  Moslem Africa (Central): Mungo Park, Cailli‚, Denham and Clapperton, Lander, Barth, Ibn Batuta, Leo Africanus
  Guinea and South Africa: Azurara, Barros, Major, Hakluyt, Purchas, Livingstone
  Assyria: Sir H Rawlinson, Layard
  India: Max Mller [85 of Adams says George Cox, 'Mythology of the Aryan Nations' adopts the theories of Prof Max Mller], Weber
  Persia: Heeren
  Central Asia: Burnes, Wolff, Vamb‚ry
  Arabia: Niebuhr, Caussin de Perceval, Sprenger, Deutsch, Muir, Burckhardt, Burton, Palgrave
  Palestine: Dean Stanley, Renan, D”llinger, Spinoza, Robinsion, Neander
  Greece: Grote, O. Mller, Curtius, Heeren, Lewes, Taine, About, Becker
  Rome: Gibbon, Macaulay, Becker
  Dark Ages: Hallam, Guizot, Robertson, Prescott, Irving
  Philosophy of History: Herder, Buckle, Comte, Lecky, Mill, Draper
  Science: Darwin, Lyell, Spencer, Huxley, Tyndall, Chambers, Wallace, Tylor, Lubbock

==================================== READE's OWN INTRO LISTS I had intended to give my authorities in full with notes and elucidations, but am prevented from doing so by want of space, this volume being already larger than it should be. I wish therefore to impress upon the reader that there is scarcely anything in this work which I can claim as my own. I have taken not only facts and ideas, but phrases and even paragraphs, from other writers. I cannot pay all my debts in full, but I mus t at least do myself the pleasure of mentioning those authors who have been my chief guides. On Egypt they are Wilkinson, Herodotus (Rawlinson’s edition), Bunsen; Ethiopia or Abyssinia, Bruce, Baker, Lepsius; Carthage, Heeren (African Nations), Niebuhr, Mommsen; East Africa, Vincent (Periplus), Guillain, Hakluyt Society’s Publications; Moslem Africa (Central), Park, Caillie, Denham and Clapperton, Lander, Barth, Ibn Batuta, Leo Africanus; Guinea and South Africa, Azurara, Barros, Major, Hakluyt, Purchas, Livingstone; Assyria, Sir H. Rawlinson, Layard; India, Max Muller, Weber; Persia, Heeren (Asiatic Nations); Central Asia, Burnes, Wolff, Vambery; Arabia, Niebuhr, Caussin de Perceval, Sprenger, Deutsch, Muir, Burckhardt, Burton, Palgrave; Palestine, Dean Stanley, Renan, Dollinger, Spinoza, Robinson, Neander; Greece, Grote, O. Muller, Curtius, Heeren, Lewes, Taine, About, Becker (Charicles); Rome, Gibbon, Macaulay, Becker (Gallus); Dark Ages, Hallam, Guizot, Robertson, Prescott, Irving; Philosophy of History, Herder, Buckle Comte, Lecky, Mill, Draper; Science, Darwin, Lyell, Herbert, Spencer, Huxley, Tyndall, Chambers (Vestiges of Creation), Wallace, Tylor, and Lubbock. All of the works of the above named authors deserve to be carefully read by the students of universal history, and in them he will find references to the original authorities, and to all writers of importance on the various subjects treated of in this work. ==================================== Reade's Influence on Others: Critics, Anthropologists, Joad, H G Wells, General Readers...
[Top of page]

- The following, says Legge, 'bestowed eulogies on its style'; unless this is slackly worded, he allows the option of their disliking its subject-matter:
  - Sir Henry Creswicke Rawlinson, 1810-1895, (brother of George, above) 'held various important positions in the .. East India Company.. remembered chiefly as an Assyriologist.. deciphered the great Behistun Inscription in 1846, which sounds rather like the Rosetta stone, the Tel-el-Amarna Tablets, and a bit like the Moabite stone: 'a cuneiform inscription in the three languages of the Persian Empire, on a lofty rock between Hamadan and Kirmanshah, recounting the events of the life of Darius..'
  - Charles Reade, novelist - see above
  - Sir Harry Johnston, presumably Wells' advisor in 'The Outline..'
 
 
  - Anthropologists: it occurs to me that Reade's views on religion were forced on him in a way somewhat analogous to Darwin's and Wallace's: he was exposed to primitive Africans, almost for the first time, and generalised from this. [Incidentally, thinking of Russell on China, isn't it possibly true that 'Africa' developed separately from the rest of the world for a longer period than China?] Grant Allen, who wrote on religion at about the same time as Reade, ['The Evolution of the Idea of God', Thinker's Library #18, I see] made an impression on Wells as well. And possibly Reade's influence was greater than it seems: the Religion of Reason and Love sounds very like Wells's ideas in 'First and Last Things' and 'The Open Conspiracy'; and 'The Golden Bough' and countless hack works may have been attempts to do what Reade did in other ways, or in ways intended to get credit for the author or for some creed.
 
  - Wells: 'Few sketches of universal history by one single author have been written. One book that influenced me very strongly is The Martyrdom of Man. This "dates," as people say, nowadays, and it has a fine gloom of its own; but it is still an extraordinarily inspiring presentation of human history as one consistent process.' [Blurb in Jonathan Cape edition of 'The Martyrdom of Man'; 1924 or earlier; taken from Wells's introduction to 'The Outline..'. It occurs to me that Reade learnt to dislike religion, like Wells; started as a novelist, as Wells did; and also never received the award he most coveted, the Royal Geographical Society gold medal, as Wells never became a FRS.]
 
  - [Joad, quoted in Pelican book 'Read Better, Read Faster' by de Leeuw:] Winwood Reade's 'The Martyrdom of Man' .. Reade.. struck by the fact that Africa was commonly supposed to be a continent apart, lying right outside the main stream of the world's affairs, and he wished, therefore, to write a history of Africa showing how profoundly Africa had affected the world, first through the influence of its religions, secondly through the growth of the slave trade. But in order to demonstrate [these] Reade found himself led insensibly [sic] into describing the world as well as Africa. [This is true; pp xxi-xxii, the Author's Preface in my Thinker's Library copy, describes the process of expansion from seeds of his four complete chapters]
  .. an ardent convert to the theory of evolution.. wanted to unfold the great chronicle of life, from those first living specks which floated about on the intertidal scum [sic. pp 317ff in Wells' fashion start with solar system, though attributing the earth to a thrown-off fragment, and describe 'soup' etc, growth, reproduction, in attractive way] .. Man.. was not a degenerate angel but a promoted ape, and those who believed in a personal God, a Fall, a Heaven and a Hell were falsifying the teaching of evolution. .. Reade tries to describe the origin of religion as an outcome of fear, and to exhibit it as a phase through which man passes during the period of his adolescence, but with which he will be able to dispense when he is full grown. .. 'this long and gloomy period of the human race'.. book .. execrated by the pious reviewers.. nevertheless, it sold like hot cakes. .. wonderful style.. witty, eloquent, extraordinarily clear, and never dull.. his account of the slave trade and its abolition is one of the most moving things in history...' [sic; I presume he means in 'literature']

Endnotes by 'Rerevisionist'
[Top of page]
Why bother with this old book? Well, it interested me as a precursor to the H G Wells style of universal world history, doing its best to use reason to integrate discoveries about the world into one unified process, preferably with an optimistic future outlook.

The end of the book has a summary which I think impressed readers for four reasons—
[1] Its rejection of religion, and conjecturing sensible reasons for its adoption earler, which must have been refreshing;
[2] The evolutionary presentation, which made all wars and events such as slavery seem to have a purpose, rather than a purposeless waste; though some of his evolutionary things seem odd—quadrupeds turned into man? Invention of poisons? Women being selected for long hair?
[3] Related to evolution is the relativity over time—some things which once were beneficial are no longer; and indeed some things regarded as beneficial, such as abolition of slavery, had temporary bad effects—such as jettisoned slaves being drowned;
[4] Its evidence—not just Biblical stuff but at least an attempt at serious anthropology, some of it excitingly controversial, for which Reade after all was somewhat qualified, having been a pioneering adventurer in Africa, which impresssed him to the extent he wanted to incorporate it into world history. He includes rather speculative anthropological material throughout. For example girls not allowed to wear clothing in some places, allegedly. Tied in with anti-religious material; e.g. the Bedouin invented one God, he says, because they lived in a very limited environment with little evidence of many natural agents at work.


These books were published in the first half of the twentieth century by Watt in their 'Thinker's Library' series. This of course was Jewish-influenced and it's entirely possible Reade's outlook imitated Jews of the time. My notes have page numbers taken from one of those editions. 'The Martyrdom of Man' has only four chapters, subdivided in the contents page though for some reason not in the body of the text. The book is are indexed (always a helpful thing) in six pages of double columns; the entries are brief, varied and interesting, though with little medieval material; here are some examples:–
    Aborigines of Europe, American Civil war (he recognises the motive was union, not abolition), Atlas Mountains, Babylon, Bedouins invention of God, Belisarius (a general), Book-hunting age, Brain, Charlemagne, Cotton, Darius Emperor of Persia, Ecbatana, Granada, Jews, Languages, Maccabees, Mecca, Mumbo Jumbo, Slave Trade (good descriptions of this), Adam Smith, the soul, Twig-eaters, USA, Vandals, Voltaire, War chief agent of civilisation, Zoroaster are typical topics: skeptical types will note the missing economics material, to explain for example how armies can be kept continually supplied.

Winwood Reade's Life 1838-1875
Harvey's edition of the Oxford Companion to English Literature describes him as a traveller, novelist, and controversialist who explored west and south-west Africa in 1861 and 1869; he was 'Times' correspondent in the Ashanti War; 'Martyrdom of Man' was published in 1872 'and many subsequent editions'. It 'contains his criticisms of religious belief'; and this statement is the only comment about the book. It suggests that The Martyrdom of Man was seen as a religious equivalent of a pornographic book, with certain types of reader only able to see the 'criticisms of religious belief' part. Harvey mentions three other novels by Reade: Liberty Hall, See Saw, and The Outcast, with no further information. Note that his brother, Charles Reade, about 24 years older, was a well-established author and playwright with legal training; his books and plays included the treatment of social problems, though not on a large scale. His The Cloister and the Hearth (historical novel on Desiderius Erasmus's father) was published in 1861. This must presumbly have inclined publishers to favour his brother, Winwood Reade, whose full list of titles seems to be:

1859 CHARLOTTE AND MYRA
1860 LIBERTY HALL OXON
1860 THE VEIL OF ISIS [Possibly an 'attack on Catholicism'. 'The Outcast' introduction says it 'recount[s] the history of the Druids']
1863 SAVAGE AFRICA
1865 SEE-SAW
1872 THE MARTYRDOM OF MAN
1873 THE AFRICAN SKETCH-BOOK [Intro to 'The Outcast' says it "was stuffed was tales of savage life.. avowedly.. drawn from the imagination merely."
1874 STORY OF THE ASHANTI CAMPAIGN [Intro to 'The Outcast' says only it 'amplifies his contributions to The Times']
1875 THE OUTCAST
1875 THE OUTCAST
Winwood Reade's novel about a clergyman who decides he can't conscientiously believe. Typical literature reference book: '.. the fate of persecution attaching to the aggressive profession of "unbelief"..'
- 'Passed into a third edition' within 1875, the year of his death at 36, his 'strength.. undermined during his earlier journeys in Africa.. dysentery and fever contracted during the Ashanti campaign broke down his last defences. ..'
- Written as an epistolatory novel of a father to his daughter, who was brought up separately because the man's father gave money for this on condition she didn't have anything to do with her infidel dad. Including a passage of writings by a believer deconverted by Malthus & Darwin and driven to madness and I think suicide by the death of his woman friend. 'Ravings' titled 'A New Thing Under the Moon' (as everyone knows there's no new thing under the sun).
- Similarities to Samuel Butler's novels. Descriptions e.g. of youth being beaten by his father till running with blood for not learning his Latin. Father discovered to have given lots of money to charities (their nature, of course, not investigated by Reade) after the death of his wife, who believed he was tight-fisted all her life.
- Quite a few literary references including Butler's Analogy, Confessions of an Opium Eater, Paley's Natural Theology, and on 46-48 Lyell's Principles of Geology which Reade evidently liked, especially the evidence for the passage of huge lengths of time without catastrophe.
- 27: Goes to Oxford, has uneventful college life, and 'took a first class in Great Go'
- 48: Good passage on de-conversion: '.. For me it was enough that there was one mistake.. read the Bible all through, with no commentary but that of common sense, and the scales fell from my eyes. .. my chief feeling was one of burning shame, that I could ever have credited the many profane and ridiculous fables contained in the Bible. .. '
- 51: ".. I am young, I will enter another profession, I will make my way in the world." "You are not then aware.. that clergymen are forbidden by law to enter any other profession?" [A footnote says 'this law has since been repealed']

[Top of page]

HTML Rae West from my notes (latest date 29 Dec 1995). Uploaded to big-lies.org site 2015-05-08