Born to a squire in Perthshire, Reade took to writing at an early
age, composing two novels by the age of 23. At this age he also
decided to depart for Africa, arriving in Gabon by steamboat in
1862. After several months of observing gorillas and traveling
down through Angola, Reade returned home and published his first
travel account, Savage Africa. Despite what critics have called
an often juvenile tone, the book is notable for its anthropological
1868, Reade secured the patronage of London-based Gold Coast trader
Andrew Swanzy to journey to West Africa. After failing to get
permission to enter the Ashanti Confederacy, Reade set out north
from Freetown to explore the areas past the Solimana capital of
Falaba. Though Reade traveled over some unexplored territory,
his findings excited little interest among geographers, due mostly
to his failure to take accurate measurements of his journey; his
sextant and other instruments had been left behind at Port Loko.
On his return, Reade published his African Sketch-Book (1873),
an account of his travels that also called for far greater British
involvement in West Africa.
best-known work, however, is The Martyrdom of Man (1872), a secular
history of the Western world. In it, Reade attempts to trace the
development of Western civilization in terms analogous to those
used in the natural sciences.
returned to Africa in 1873 to serve as a correspondent in the
Ashanti War, but died not long after.
fact must be familiar to all those who have any experience of
human nature -- a sincerely religious man is often an exceedingly
live between two worlds; we soar in the atmosphere; we creep upon
the soil; we have the aspirations of creators and the propensities
of quadrupeds. There can be but one explanation of this fact.
We are passing from the animal into a higher form, and the drama
of this planet is in its second act."
believe themselves to be the aristocracy of heaven upon earth,
they are admitted to the spiritual court, while millions of men
in foreign lands have never been presented. They bow their knees
and say they are 'miserable sinners,' and their hearts rankle
with abominable pride. Poor infatuated fools! Their servility
is real and their insolence is real but their king is a phantom
and their palace is a dream."
cities are beneath our feet; the ground on which we tread is the
pavement of a tomb. See the pyramids towering to the sky, with
men, like insects, crawling round their base; and the Sphinx,
couched in vast repose, with a ruined temple between its paws.
Since those great monuments were raised the very heavens have
been changed. When the architects of Egypt began their work, there
was another polar star in the northern sky, and the southern cross
shone upon the Baltic shores. How glorious are the memories of
those ancient men, whose names are forgotten, for they lived and
labored in the distant and unwritten past. Too great to be known,
they sit on the height of centuries and look down on fame....
The men are dead, and the gods are dead. Naught but their memories
remain. Where now is Osiris, who came down upon earth out of love
for man, who was killed by the malice of the evil one, who rose
again from the grave and became the judge of the dead? Where now
is Isis the mother, with the child Horus in her lap? They are
dead; they are gone to the land of the shades. To-morrow, Jehovah,
you and your son shall be with them."
we look into ourselves we discover propensities which declare
that our intellects have arisen from a lower form; could our minds
be made visible we should find them tailed."