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The Martyrdom of Man by Winwood Reade


The Martyrdom of Man


Winwood Reade


Transcribed by Jan Lloyd ( and Donal O’Danachair  




Author’s Preface


Chapter 1 – War


Western Asia 

The Persians 

The Greeks 

The Macedonians 


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 



The Character of Mohammed 

Description of Africa 

The Mohammedans in Central Africa


Chapter 3 – Liberty

Ancient Europe 

The German Invasion 

The Castle 

The Town 

The Church 


Arab Spain 

The Portuguese Discoveries 

The Slave-Trade 

Abolition in Europe 

Abolition in America 

Materials of 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




Reade’s full name was William Winwood Reade: on the Martrydom, and  

on his last book, The Outcast, it stands as Winwood Reade, his literary  

choice. A nephew of Charles Reade, he was born at Murrayfield, near  

Crieff, on 26 December, 1838, and died at Wimbledon, on 24th April,  

1875. (These are the dates of Mr. Legge, who seems, however, not to  

have finally correlated them.) He published in 1859 Charlotte and Myra;  

in 1860 Liberty Hall Oxon (his college was Magdalen, then known as  

Hertford); in 1860 The Veil of Isis, an attack on Catholicism. His first  

visit to Africa was in 1862. In 1865 he published See-Saw; in 1868 he  

again went to Africa, and in 1873 appeared his African Sketch Book,  

which is in part an abridgment of his Savage Africa (1863). The  

Martyrdom of Man was published in 1872. In 1873 he made his third trip  

to Africa, as Times correspondent in the Ashanti War, which he saw  

through, being the only civilian present at the taking of Coomassie; and in  

1874 appeared his Story of the Ashanti Campaign, embodying, with  

criticism, his Times letters. In his last illness he wrote The Outcast  

(1875) setting forth in fiction form the fate of persecution attaching to the  

aggressive profession of “unbelief.” Orthodox writers have stressed the  

fact that, while he again professes his disbelief in immortality, he does  

not profess to ”know.” The Outcast reached a third edition in the year of  

its issue, but does not appear to have been since reprinted until its  

publication by Watts & Co., in the Thinker’s Library series in 1933.




In 1862-3 I made a tour in Western Africa, and afterwards desired to  

revisit that strange country with the view of opening up new ground and  

of studying religion and morality among the natives. I was, however,  

unable to bear a second time the great expenses of African travel, and had  

almost given up the hope of becoming an explorer when I was introduced  

by Mr. Bates, the well known Amazon traveller and Secretary of the  

Royal Geographical Society, to one of its Associates, Mr. Andrew  

Swanzy, who had long desired to do something in the cause of African  

discovery. He placed unlimited means at my disposal, and left me free to  

choose my own route. I travelled in Africa for two years (1868-70) and  

made a journey which is mentioned in the test. The narrative of my  

travels will be published in due course; I allude to them now in order to  

show that I have had some personal experience of savages. I wish also to  

take the first opportunity of thanking Mr. Swanzy for his assistance,  

which was given not only in the most generous but also in the most  

graceful manner.

With respect to the present work, I began it intending to prove that  

“Negroland” or Inner Africa is not cut off from the main-stream of  

events, as writers of philosophical history have always maintained, but  

connected by means of Islam with the lands of the East; and also that it  

has, by means of the slave-trade, powerfully influenced the moral history  

of Europe and the political history of the United States. But I was  

gradually led from writing the history of Africa into writing the history of  

the world. I could not describe the Negroland of ancient times without  

describing Egypt and Carthage. From Egypt I was drawn to Asia and to  

Greece; from Carthage I was drawn to Rome. That is the first chapter.

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