John d'Entremont, Southern Emancipator: Moncure Conway, The American Years 1832-1865 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), 222.
By 1897, at the end of a four-year return engagement at South Place, Conway's philosophy had undergone a striking change from what it had looked like at the end of the American years. Much of his adult career had been spent proclaiming the Emersonian creed that evil is only "good in the making," that the direction of the world was inexorably toward the better, that "progress" could never long be retarded. That faith had supported his break with Virginia. It also had helped provoke his departure from war-torn America and the lessons the war might otherwise have taught, when he adandoned the darkening, guilty New World to find innocence and sunlight in the Old. During his first South Place ministry he had always proclaimed the glory of evolution, ever onward and upward, and the illusory nature of evil, wrong, and pain - things that only "helped" us by alerting us to what was good. Personal and political events in the 1880s made that increasingly hard to believe. By 1897 it was impossible.