« הקודםהמשך »
error, you will not fail so to do. I wish to correct others, and I wish to be corrected,
COPY OF A LETTER SENT TO THE BISHOP
My Lord BISHOP, Dorchester Gaol, August 16, 1824. As you are making a tour through this county to confirm the young Christians, I beg leave to inform you, that I have pot been confirmed by a Bishop, wbich might be one reason why I cannot understand Christianity to be any thing true or useful. I recollect well, that when a boy of thirteen years old, my excellent mother was uneasy, that I was not then old enough to take the ceremony of confirmation from the Bishop of Exeter, on a confirming tour through his diocese. She expressed her sears of what has really happened, tbat, before another visit, I should be out of her hands: but little did she think, and little did I then think, that I should be now addressing you from a Gaol, in the fifth year of my imprisonment, for no other crime, than, because I can find po one, no bishop, no priest, no layman to confirm me in the truths and utility of the Christian religion!
My Lord Bishop, I assure you, that I am, and that I have ever been, anxious to become, and to be confirmed, a Christian, upon one condition, that the story of Jesus Christ narrated in the New Testament can be confirmed as true.
My bistorical inquiries prove to my mind, that no such person existed, and that no such religion as Christianity took its rise, at Jerusalem, or in Judea. I shall be most bappy to explain this matter to your Lordship: orin failure thereof, and on being shown by your Lordsbip, as my present diocesan, that the Gospels are true, I will beg your Lordship's blessing, confirmation, imposition of hands, and interference for my liberation from this place. Finally I will beg your Lordship to ordain me a Priest—that I may rechristianize all those whom I have unchristianized.
I am, my Lord Bishop, your Lordship's most humble, most teachable, (only addicted to the asking of questions): and most obedient servant,
TO MR. R. CARLILE, DORCHESTER GAOL,
Bradford, August 6, 1824. I feel considerable pleasure in transmitting to you the mites of a few friends in this place and the neighbourhood; and though the amount is not great, yet it is pleasing to see that it is a larger sum than any one we have yet sent to you. It is also a satisfactory proof, that the cause you are advocating is increasing in strength in this part. Looking upon the present severe struggle, as you do, to be the last for the invaluable blessing of free discussion, we think it the duty of every honest man, of whatever sentiment, to give you his support. The importance of the contest, the enthusiasm you have manifested in the glorious cause, and the steadiness and courage which you and the noble fellows who have followed you in the battle, have exhibited, give us the most exhilarating confidence in the result. From what we have seen and are daily witnessing, we cannot anticipate any thing but triumph ultimately. I am astonished that the history of the world has not taught your enemies, that persecution is the most certain method ever discovered for the rapid establishment of novel or even unpopular doctrines: with this inference before their eyes, one would imagine that their own God was determined to make them a notorious illustration of a maxim which they have adopted as their own “ Quem Deus vult perdere, prius dementat," “ whom God would destroy he first drives mad:” and certainly, they have lately given as strong proofs of their insanity, as any reasonable man desire. However, as long as that insanity continues to torment both themselves and others, let the Re. publicans and Materialists of Britain, and every other friend to the principles of freedom, furnish you with the necessary materials for applying the proper remedy for the baneful disorder. To drop metaphor, let us by every means in our power assist you in the establishment of the unlimited freedom of the press. If the conscientious friend to, and and enquirer after, truth, properly appeciated the importance of your struggle, and the necessity of the most complete success, I am clearly convinced, that your antagonists would quickly see the utter hopelessness and folly of their efforts. “Mugna est veritas et prevalebit:” “Great is truth'und it SHALL prevail.” But prejudice in some, apathy in many, and fear in more, act like a stroke of the torpedo on great numbers, whose duty to support you ought to be as imperative on them, as the fury of the theological bigot, or the interest of the crafty and unprincipled politician, makes him zealous in adding to the influence of his party and the strength of his system. I could wish all to give you effectual assistance by the purchase of
your publications: but, as it is evident, that the singular nature and severity of the contest in which you are engaged, demand aid in every shape, in which it can possibly be furnished, I feel extremely bappy in reckoning up from time to time the subscriptions you receive. Money is the sinews of war of all sorts, whether political, theological or moral: and without a free press, I confess, I can see nothing, but the extinction of the best principles of morality under the pressure of an immense and overwhelming superstition. I see, in the Republican, at different times, subscriptions for particular individuals; and though the subscribers who make this distinction, do it no doubt, with the best intentions, yet I beg to observe, that those of your fellow labourers and sufferers in this great cause, who are unnoticed in this way, seem to be cast into the back ground, and not to be considered of the same importance with their thus distinguished companions. We of this place, look upon the subscriptions as intended for the equal benefit of all, and we should feel extremely sorry, if any one of the heroes of Fleet Street or any other Street, should be neglected; but we have that perfect confidence in you, that we have no fear that any one will be overlooked, while you have the means of adding to his comforts. We were afraid Mrs. Wright had suffered in consequence of inattention, and shall be happy to hear from you, that nothing that could be done to alleviate her sufferings was wanting on your part. We cannot sufficiently express our admiration of the noble men who have fought with you in the great battle of freedom. Their defences (with the exception of Counsellor French's for Cochrane) are masterpieces of argument, will not particularize any one, for they are all excellent. I think we shall hear no more commiseration and affected contempt expressed for the poor ignorant and deluded men who have been seduced into Carlile's shop. The recent sentences are a horrible burlesque of justice. Was it ever heard, before the nineteenth century, the enlightened nineteenth century of Christianity, that the more honest and more intepid in defence of his opinions a man was, the more aggravated his crime, and the greater the quantity of punishment awarded to him ?—and this too in London, the metropolis of a country which is, “ the envy of surrounding nations, and the admiration of the world!" Really this is too much! But I dare say they have parallel cases in Algiers and Turkey; and while a poor unfortunate Mahometan, who may have happened to apostatize to Christianity, from conviction, has been impaled, the · devout followers of Mahomet and worshippers of the benevolent Allah, no doubt, laud the mild and tolerant institutions of their country and praise their merciful government to the skies. There is one satisfaction-- Burning for opinions has been at end above a century, and I have no fear but that imprisonment and fines will be unfashionablein much less than another--unless the Methodists should get the predominance above all the other Christian sects, and then I
should begin to apprehend fire and faggot again; for with less information in general, in proportion to the spirit of the times, than the Roman Catholics, they are every whit as intolerant. That there are some honourable exceptions among them, I allow; but I speak of the bulk of the sect.
Some time ago, you mentioned your intention of bringing out a sketch of the life of the great and good Elihu Palmer. This many of your friends are desirous of seeing, when your circumstances will allow you to publish it. There are also frequent inquirers for the pamphlets which compose the second volume of the Deist. This hint to you will be sufficient. We know you have much upon hand, and that your means are limited and therefore; we will wait your convenience for these books, fully relying on your exertions.
With the liveliest emotions of admiration of your talents, courage, and integrity, I remain, in behalf of ther Subscribers,
HODGSON SMITH. s. d.
S. d. Hodgson Smith, who . E. Jenkinson, do. 0 6
wishes man to be con- . Leumas Nedwos 10 vinced by argument. Henry Rawnsly, an Adonly
2 0 vocate for Natural A Friend to Free Discus
Religion and Free Dission 0 6 cussion .
16 James Stead
10 R. Sowden, an Enemy E. and T. Rycroft, Leeds 1 6 to all Priestcraft To the Persecuted Shop - A Republican
2 6 men of R. Carlile 1 .0 Sasom Mahpot
10 An enemy to Religious. ' William Rawnsley, no persecution
0 6 Friend to Priestcraft G. Law
1.6 John Hainsworth, Down T. Law, a Friend to Free
with Priestcraft 06 Discussion
1 6* W. Fox, a Lover of FreeAn Enemy to Kings and
dom in every shape o Priests
16 M. Whitaker, a Chemist A Friend to Free En- . of Liberty , 06 quiry
3 0 A friend to Reform, and David Hillary
06 Freedom of DiscusThomay Hillary 1 0
02 William Wheatly, a Ma
P. Sunderland, a Deist 0 6 terialist
10 Miles Linton, Otley, toJohn Beanland, a White
wards procuring unSlave
06 limited Freedom of John Jackson, a Friend
2 6 to Freedom in matters
George Brown, Otley, of opinion 10 do. do.
Dorchester Gaol, August 15, 1824. I am happy to record the progress and further assistance of friends in Bradford, and to congratulate them on the good effect, on our side, of the most vigorous efforts to silence as that the Christian enemy can make. It is clear, that we thrive tbe better for persecution ; and this we have done at the onset, when scarce a hundred persons in the country could be found openly to support the call for free discussion,
Last year, when I had every reason to suppose that there would be no more prosecutions for the publication of moral and nseful blasphemy, I felt it due to my friends to recommend a cessation of subscriptions. . I was rebuked by many for it; and some friend has sent me the annual report of the “ Society for promoting Christian Knowledge," to shew me wbat numbers of books they circulate through an extensive ramification of subscriptions. I should be very glad to see another Society for the promotion of Christian Knowledge, on our view of Christianity, did I not know, that when free to publish, there will be no need of such an institution, as the demand for Anti-Christian books will stimulate every mercenary bookseller to share in and to excite the circulation. The way I proceed at present is, to allow the printer and stationer to credit me as far as they like to go; and on these terms to print every thing I can print. I owe to eacb about £150. at present: they wish it less: and so do I. But on the other hand, I have a large stock of books; and book debts alone far exceeding what I am indebted. Were my income ever so great, I should be always at mo