Socialism and the Pope
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desires, satisfied by stealth and covered by deceit and conceit. The more Beecher sinned the greater became his popularity. Paxton Hibben writes:-
"People who had never been to church before in their lives flocked across Fulton Ferry, climbed the steep hill to Columbia Heights and waited for hours for the doors of Plymouth Church to open, just to catch a glimpse of this genial, white-haired, thick-necked man with boyish manner and disarming egoism, who at sixty stood accused of so many reputed adulteries. Never had Henry Ward Beecher been more popular...
"No one felt more keenly that Henry Ward Beecher the attraction of this atmosphere of profligacy- or appreciated more fully its possibilities. From the days when he looked up to the expelled West Pointer, Fitzgerald, at Mount Pleasant, down through his persistent intimacy with Alvord, the gambler, at Indianopolis, Beecher himself had felt the pull of a certain frailty of reputation. He knew its power over its romance-hungry middle-class public. The stories afloat about him were as much a part of his equipment as the Melton coast he wore, with its great cape that he threw over one shoulder or his slouch hat, or his long hair, or the jewels he carried in his pocket, or the flowers he was always surrounded with. They marked him out amongst men. They made people turn and look at him and whisper to one another. They filled his lecture halls and brought three thousand attendants to Plymouth Church. But there was a point beyond which such reputation must not go. People might whisper, but they must not talk. There must be nothing in the newspapers."
Beecher represented a heavy investment and an essential asset to a gang of solid business men of the "grim generation." He had to appear solvent, like many another rotten business enterprise Hibben quotes Elizabeth Cady Stanton's story of the "mock hearing before his hacked self-chosen committee" of Plymouth Church. Elizabeth Stanton pointed out, in correct anticipation of the event, that Beecher's "position will be maintained for him...in face of the facts," because "he is the soul and centre of three powerful religious rings":-
(1) Plymouth Church; (2) "The Christian Union"; (3) "The Life of Christ."
The untaxed church property was valuable to the bondholders who rallied round Beecher to protect their pockets. Beecher's downfall would have rendered their nods worthless. Beecher was the editor and chief moralistic contributor to the "Christian Union." The shadowing of his good name meant financial grief to another circle of suffering stockholders. It would have blown his "Life of Christ" (in the words of one of his fold) "higher than a kite." And he had been paid £5,000 for the work before he put pen to paper. He had ground out one volume prior to his impeachment. But the English market refused to touch the first volume until the second had been produced. The entire investment depended upon the vindication of Henry Ward Beecher, and his completion of the work. The economic motive power explained the number, strength, and activity of Beecher's partisans. Not his morals nor his honour were