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by [?]

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All ancient chronology falls easily into three general divisions: the fabulous, the legendary, and the probable or natural.

In the understanding of history, psychology is quite as necessary as philology.

To reject anything that has a flaw in it is quite as bad as to have that excess of credulity which swallows everything presented.

It is not necessary to throw away the fabulous nor deny the legendary. But it is certainly not wise to construe the fabulous as the actual and maintain the legendary as literally true. Things may be true allegorically and false literally, and to be able to distinguish the one from the other, and prize each in its proper place, is the mark of wisdom.

If, however, we were asked to describe the man Moses to a jury of sane, sensible, intelligent and unprejudiced men and women, and show why he is worthy of the remembrance of mankind, we would have to eliminate the fabulous, carefully weigh the traditional, and rest our argument upon records that are fair, sensible and reasonably free from dispute.

The conclusions of professional retainers, committed before they begin their so-called investigations to a literal belief in the fabulous, should be accepted with great caution. For them to come to conclusions outside of that which they have been taught, is not only to forfeit their social position, but to lose their actual means of livelihood. Perhaps the truth in the final summing up can best be gotten from those who have made no vows that they will not change their opinions, and have nothing to lose if they fail occasionally to gibe with the popular.

On a certain occasion after Colonel Ingersoll had delivered his famous lecture entitled, “Some Mistakes of Moses,” he was entertained by a local club. At the meeting, which was of the usual informal kind known as “A Dutch Feed,” a young lawyer made bold to address the great orator thus: “Colonel Ingersoll, you are a lover of freedom–with you the word liberty looms large. All great men love liberty, and no man lives in history, respected and revered, save as he has sought to make men free. Moses was a lover of liberty. Now, wouldn’t it be gracious and generous in you to give Moses, who in some ways was in the same business as yourself, due credit as a liberator and law-giver and not emphasize his mistakes to the total exclusion of his virtues?”

Colonel Ingersoll listened–he was impressed by the fairness of the question. He listened, paused and replied: “Young man, you have asked a reasonable question, and all you suggest about the greatness of Moses, in spite of his mistakes, is well taken. The trouble in your logic lies in the fact that you do not understand my status in this case. You seem to forget that I am not the attorney for Moses. He has more than two million men looking after his interests. I am retained on the other side!”

Like unto Colonel Ingersoll, I am not an attorney for Moses. I desire, however, to give a fair, clear and judicial account of the man. I will attempt to present a brief for the people, and neither prosecute nor defend. I will simply try to picture the man as he once existed, nothing extenuating, nor setting down aught in malice. As the original office of the State’s Attorney was rather to protect the person at the bar than to indict him, so will I try to bring out the best in Moses, rather than hold up his mistakes and raise a laugh by revealing his ignorance. Modesty, which is often egotism turned wrong side out, might here say, “Oh, Moses requires no defense at this late day!” But Moses, like all great men, has suffered at the hands of his friends. To this man has been attributed powers which no human being ever possessed.