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No. 11, Vol. 10.] London, Friday, Sept. 17, 1824. [Price 6d.
PROSECUTIONS FOR MORAL BLASPHEMY
The late prosecution of Mr. James Afleck in Edinburgh, for the sale of true and moral blasphemous publications | against the Christian religion, though the thing went off easily in the Courts, is a matter worthy of record, if it be but to contrast the proceeding in different countries. By the indictments here printed, tbe reader will observe, that such publications are termed felonious in Scotland, by the prosecutor, and it is only so late as the year 1813, that the Unitarian Act of Parliament repealed the authority of the Judges to put to death in such cases. Now they have the power to transport the seller of such publications, if the Jury supports the thing with a verdict of “ Proven.” It was from a fear of being exposed to the extreme of this horrible power, of that well governed realm, as Sir William Rae and his deputy John Hope call it, that Mr. Aflleck, by the pressing advice and interference of his Counsel, pleaded Guilty to the sale of the books first, and then as a matter of form, Guilty generally, which he certainly was, with the bare exception of having published wickedly and felonously. To asperse, vilify, ridicule, and bring into contempt the Christian religion, is what the Messrs. Afflecks glory in, and is a matter in wbich they will persist.
We shall first print the two indictments, and then a News*. paper report of the proceedings, which, though not a perfect
report, is correct as far as it goes.' It has a few omissions, which are evident on the face of the thing; and those omissions would have given the Defendant's case a better appearance, by shewing that his plea of Guilty was the only ground on which the Counsel would advance any thing in mitigation of punishment. No Lawyer in Edinburgh would publicly say a word in defence of such publications; though it is notorious that they are all Atheists; and that :
Printed and Published by R. Carlile, 84, Fleet Street.
of the two, there are more Atheists in Edinburgh than in London: that is-avowed Atheists in private conversation.
Mr. Affleck bad prepared a written defence, but he was assured of transportation if he used it; and its being well understood how the thing was to go off, if there were no defence, was the cause of not defending it. We shall now circulate the indictments well in Scotland, which cannot fail to do great good.
Before the prosecution was instituted, the Sheriff of Edinburgh entered Mr. Affleck's shop, and stole what he pleased of the stock-similar to bis robbery at the Hall of the Zetetic Society. Some of the goods have been returned, others detained. If this be law, good government, civilization, and monarchical protection, welcome the tyranny of Asia, as a certainty. At least, we shall not then be insulted with a sound of law, liberty, and property.'
High Court. Indictment, his Majesty's Advocate against
James Affleck. (Publishing and Vending Blasphemous :· Works, &c.) No. I. JAMES AFFLECK, now or lately bookseller and grocer in Edinburgh, you are Indicted and Accused at the instance of Sir William Rae of St. Catharines, Baronet, his Majesty's Advocate for his Majesty's interest: THAT ALBEIT, by the laws of this, and of every other well governed realm *, the wickedly and feloniously PUBLISHING, VENDING, or CIRCULATING, or
* This is a falsehood as applying to Christian countries, the very best government of which does not hold such publications to be punishable; nor does the government of England hold them to be a felonious publication. And will this redoubted “ Sir William Rae, his Majesty's Advocate, for his Majesty's interest,” (perfectly well understood how) say there is no good government beyond Christendom? China, under different Emperors, has been one of the best and mildest governments that ever existed. Was there never any thing good in any of the Republics of Greece or Rome? The truth will be found to be, on fair enquiry, that there never was a good Christian government: the nature of the idolatry forbids the possibility of such a thing. Let Sir William Rae look at Spain, Portugal, and Ireland, and even Scotland. Let him look at home. Let him remember his share in the Beacon · Newspaper! and his many other late “ means and transactions."
CAUSING to be Published, Vended, or Circulated, any PROFANE, IMPIOUS, or BLASPHEMOUS BOOK or PRINTED WORK, or any Book or Printed Work containing any Denial of the Truth and Authority of the Holy Scriptures, or of the Christian Religion, or tending to Asperse, Vilify, Ridicule, or Bring into Contempt the Holy Scriptures or the Christian Religion, is a crime of an heinous nature, and severely punishable: YET TRUE IT IS AND OF VERITY, that you the said James Affleck are guilty of the said crime, actor, or art and part: IN SO FAR AS, you the said James Affleck baving, by means and transactions to the Prosecutor unknown, obtained a number of books or printed works of a profane, impious, and blasphemous character, containing denials of the truth and authority of the Holy Scriptures and of the Christian Religion, and tending to asperse, vilify, ridicule, and bring into contempt the Holy Scriptures and Christian Religion, did, in the course of the present year, 1824, in the city of Edinburgh, wickedly and feloniously publish, vend, and circulate the said books or printed works. MORE PARTICULARLY,(1.) on the 18ih, or one or other of the days of February, 1824, or of January immediately preceding, or of March immediately following, within the shop or premises then and now or lately occupied by you in Adam's Square, South Bridge, Edinburgh, you the said James Affleck did wickedly and feloniously publish, vend, and circulate a book or printed work, entitled “ The Republican, No. 7, Vol. IX. London, Friday, Feb. 13, 1824," bearing to be “ printed and published by R. Carlile, 84, Fleet Street," and having a printed catalogue of books affixed thereto, entitled “ Catalogue of R. Carlile's Publications," and with the words at the end thereof, “ Agent for Edinburgh, Mr. James Affleck, Bookseller, 74, Adam's Square, Southbridge Street,”—by then and there giving the same to John Nugent, now or lately residing in the Pleasance of Edinburgh, in consideration of the sum of sixpence, or other small sum of money then and there paid by the said John Nugent to you as the price of the said book or printed work; and the said book or printed work is profane, impious, and blasphemous, and contains passages denying the truth and authority of the Holy Scriptures and of the Christian Religion, and tending to asperse, vilify, ridicule, and bring into contempt the Holy Scriptures and Christian religion; and, in particular, the following passages in that part of the book which purports to be a letter by Richard Carlile to Rabbi Solomon Herchell, High
Priest of the Jews in London, viz. the following passage at page 193 of the said Number of the Republican :
“ Dorchester Gaol, February 8, year 1724 of “ RABBI*,
Christianity, 2360 of Judaism. “ OF all the superstitions that are known to have infested the earth, that of Judaism has produced the greatest amount of mischief, if we consider it to be the parent of Christianity and Mahometanism. Other superstitions have arisen and fallen without producing any serious ills among their devotees; but this of yours has engendered the most malignant feelings among those divisions of mankind where it has been found. There is no history of any deadly religious sectarianism before that whicb sprang up from Judaism. A multitude of Gods have been worsbipped in a multitude of forms, without sectarianism or anger on the part of the vast multitudes of worshippers ; but it remained for Judaism to introduce one God, one Idol, which, instead of forming a union in the system of worship among the idolators, should set them all a-wrangling as to which was the better formwhich the more acceptable ceremony- which the more favourable sect; and that bas kept them all a-wrangling to this day; because there is no decision to be obtained separate from the caprice of each sect or of each individual;" and the following passage at page 193:-" You, the High Priest of the Jews, produce a volume which you call a collection of Sacred Books, and which we, wbo are not Jews nor Christians, distinguish by the appellation of Jew Books. In this volume, it is endeavoured to be shewn that the first man was a Jew, if I may use the term, as a matter of distinction; that he worshipped the God which you worship; and that you have, in those sacred books, a genealogical account of your precise descent from this first of the Jews, this first of Idolators, the first of mankind. You tell us that the first five of this Collection of Sacred Books were written by a man named Moses 3276 years ago, and 2552 years af
* I am always highly delighted to see such important passages set forth in these indictments. They do more good than when read in the original publications, in being sent forth with all the pomp of hypocrisy, and with all the ceremony of bad law. In Scotland, the Defendant, in such cases, is furnished with a printed copy of his indictment; and so fearful were the Law Officers in this case, that the printer would print some for distribution, that they sent a person to watch the process and to see the forms broken up. Why? We can copy!
ter the creation of the first of the Jews, or the man of Jehovab's own manufacture. If my figures do not precisely concur with your calculations, they are near enough for the purpose of my argument. I follow a chronology that lies before me; but I give it no more credit than I give to your mythology. It is an invention, a romance;' and also the following passage at page 198:-“ Whilst addressing you as a distinguished member of a sect, I may be permitted to observe, that your farther career as a sect of idolators is hope• less. Science, bistory, all that is true, proclaims your sacred books to be nothing more than a collection of fables. Your books bave been cherished, whilst your persons have been the scoff of mankind, or of the people among wbom you bave dwelt; but the time has now arrived when your persons will be treated with social respect, and your books with contempt. The efforts making to convert you as Jews into Christians, I, as well as you, can smile at, and see that the matter is impracticable; nor will you ever bring mankind to the worship of your God, Jehovah. But there is a hope tbat you idolators may be all brought to be honest and sensible men, each throwing off his share of superstition. At this moment, there can be no such person as an honest and sensible idolator; because, such a person to be honest and sensible, would be led to the examination of the foundation of bis idolatry; and, being so led, he could never rest upon such books as you and the Christians present to him. The knowledge of the age wars with your books; aud you, as Jews, are only kept in countenance, in consequence of the Christian Priesthood having built their superstition upon the foundation of your books. Without this prop ridicule would overwhelm your superstition.
“Knowledge of every kind scouts the notion that such a God as your Jehovah has fabricated and rules the world. The certainties of chemistry, geology, and astronomy, are so many direct refutations of the tales of your books, as they relate to a God or Gods, to a creation, to a deluge, and to the peopling of the earth. You contend with the light of day when you persist in doing what your forefathers bave done, and adhere to tales, because they were ignorant enough to receive them and to hand them down to you. An invitation is now made to you to assist in breaking up the sectarianism of mankind, and to urge on all in one common pursuit of knowledge. You, as Jews, can lose nothing by the loss of your superstition, because you are already oppressed by the more powerful superstition of the Christians;