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No. 16, Vol. 10.) London, Friday, Oct. 22, 1824. [Price 6d.
TO THE CHRISTIAN JUDGE BAILEY.
Dorchester Gaol, Sept. 12, 1824, being
a completion of my five years' imCHRISTIAN,
prisonment. FIVE years bave elapsed on this day, since I entered the Guildhall of the City of London to defend my conduct in the publication of Paive's “ Age of Reason” and Palmer's “ Principles of Nature," and a second bissextile year intervening bas brought round the date to the same of the week. I may date my imprisonment from that day; for though not actually arrested until the 14th, I was in every sense of the word, a prisoner, under the sentence of the Court of King's Bench, at the moment of entering it for a Mock Trial.
As well as to comment upon your notes to the Book of Common Prayer, I am about to compare notes with you, and to see wbich of us bas triumphed over the other.
You have made me a prisoner for five years, and have assisted to rob me enormously ; but, in so doing, have you Dot raised up a power against yourself, vastly more formidable than any thing exbibited in 1819 ? Has my pen or my disposition been less active in, than it would have been out of prison? And have I not the benefit of an immense amount of sympathy and indignation for my jujuries, wbich without ibose injuries, could not have existed ?
In 1819, you thought to stop the sale of all Anti-Christian publications!
In 1824, you find them in full and unmolested sale, and of a character far, very far, superior, and more forcible, than when first prosecuted. You have, in fact established the sale of Anti-Christian publications, as a branch of the bookselling trade; and you have so established it that it will go on to be the most profitable branch in that trade, without
Printed and Published by R. Carlile, 84, Fleet Street.
participating in whicb, no bookseller, shortly will be able to live. I will not fix a year, as the Jewish propbets were too wise for that; but I will let that stand as a propbecy.
I give you the word of an Atheist, and here I will prophecy again, that the word of an Atheist will, by and by, pass as the synonime of truth; I give you the word of an Atheist, that the demand for Paine's “ Age of Reason," and Palmer's “ Principles of Nature,” is greater now than it was in 1819. Of the latter work, I have sold two thousand clean in the past year, and find an increasing demand. If I had the means, I would stereotype both, and venture to work off five thousand at a time. The latter work, bas, also, lately, been translated into the Italian Language, for tbe purpose of an Italian Edition.
By the prosecution of Mr. Hone's Parodies on the Liturgy, I was let into a grand secret, as to the effect which a prosecution had to increase the circulation ; by kuowing that secret, I have wisely profited ; and have been triumpbing over you Christians, wbilst you have been crying out victory! whilst you have my bones in a prison !
Transubstantiation, in your Christian Sacrament of your Lord's Supper, is a farce, or something lower; but the transubstantiation of the body of a Materialist is not a farce; it is a serious truth. I send parts of my body all over this Island, even to America, communicating to my communicants, by which they receive salvation, and acknowledge it; and I defy you to chain up those parts of my body. You cannot imprison the whole of my body; nor that very part which you most desire to imprison! You can only punish the part that does not offend you: the part that does offend, you cannot punish; it thrives, and lives, and breathes, under your very pose: nor is it alarmed at your avaunt !
It is not only in the books that I sell annually, that my progress against Christianity can be calculated ; these books of bigh interest, and some of them lent about until fairly worn out, so that, in some instances, the sale of one book to a particular persov, zealous to lend it about, is as good as the sale of one hundred to as many persons, who keep it to themselves. I was informed of a case of this kind last year; that one copy of the “The Republican,” regularly travelled froni Manchester to Stockport by one rout and came back to Manchester by another: that the journey occupied a month, and this was done by handing it from one to another, by agreement, until near a bundred persons bad read it. I incline to think, that “ The Republican,” more than any other publication, is handed about in this manner, and read in little clubs. On this ground, it is probable, that one half of the books issued by me in 1819, are now moving about as fast as they can be read, and that, the passing sale, since that time, has been an additional power, still extending the same principle, and exceeding all arithmetical calculation. Then, again, it is not only by the books that we Anti-Christians act, each convert, each human being recovered from the slough of Christianity, becomes an oracle to his neighbours, and makes his tongue and his manners to be alike instructive, by feeling himself superior to every thing that is Christian.
In 1819, or in 1818 rather, the “ Age of Reason" was a smuggled book, and almost every individual feared that he should be detected with it. Now, my example of making it so public and so common, has set aside all alarm, and it is exhibited and lent as common as any other book. All this, I attribute to tbe prosecutions. These prosecutions bave brought out a new edition in New York, where there was not a copy on sale! In January next, tbe first celebration of the birth day of Thomas Paine will take place in that City, and, I engage, that it will last a century. The acceleration of this measure may be attributed to the English prosecutions of his " Age of Reason.”
What honour, or what advantage, have you gained in all that violation of law by which I have been imprisoned and robbed ? What good has your vigour beyond the law accomplished? Have you checked the sale of the prosecuted books? Does your Christian system stand more firm, than six years ago ? Or rather, do you not fiud something more powerful than the “gates of bell” prevailing against it. Ah! Bailey! pone of your prophets could forsee the invention and power of the Printing Press! It mocks them all! It derides your Gods and your Devils; and treats your old Mother Church, as what she is, the basest of bawds! Sbe may go on to prostiute herself to idols, to both God and Devils; but enlightened man will abhor and avoid her company. I feel that it becomes me, to mock you, Christian Judge Bailey. An old man is only respectable, when he is not a persecutor, when his manners are not offensive, when he is not a hypocrite. The evils of tyranny, hypocrisy, and bad manners, increase with age: the trunk that produces them never ceases to grow.
Meditating upon the inutility, towards you, Christians, of my imprisonment, I bave been led to consider the purpose and utility of imprisoment in cases of theft, fraud, and all those offences which are not pow counted as capital. I cannot see it to be useful; but I do see mischief in it; otherwise tban in the case of insanity, or wbere the individual be disposed to do injury to self or others.
Since torture bas been abolished, or as far as it has been abolished, imprisonment has ceased to be a bodily punishment. Weak minded individuals may grieve about it; but a strong minded man feels it not, and, in most cases, the friends, the wife, the children, suffer more out, that the prisoner in prison. The punishment falls upon the wrong person.
In some measure, imprisonment has become like transpor. tation to miserable men, who cannot thrive at home, not dread. ed, but desired. The idle like it for the sake of maintenance, and the unemployed, or those employed at sixpence the day, do but gain on the score of confort. The county rate maintains the man, and the parish rate bis wife and children, which instead of a punishment, becomes a benefit to the offeuding parties, at the further expence of the injured. Where it deprives a man of the meaus of producing property by fair industry, it becomes a robbery and an injury to the community. Where it does not deprive a map of the means of producing property, it has to maintain bim in comparative idleness, with a few exceptions.
Some means may surely be devised of making au offender pay a fine without imprisonment. The practice of the Jewish Law, in making the thief or other offender restore a mul. tiplied sum of goods or money was far superior to the modern mode of imprisoument. If, when mulcted in such a a case, the individual has no property to pay, and refuses to accomplish by labour, be bas no alternative but to become an exile from the neighbourhood; which, in many cases, would become the greatest of punisbments; and, ja all, security to that neighbourhood against his furtber disho. nest practices. Better is it to banish, than to torture or imprison a man. If he settled in any other place, under the same government, and accumulated property, the sentence of the Magistrate may be at any time enforced against him. He has no security but in perpetual foreign exile. A barrassing penalty of this kind would be a much more effectual punishment, than the existing mode of imprisonment, and no ope at expence to support the offender.
Cases of murder, of cutting and maiming, or of all such as are deservedly capital, require the existing punishment, or perpetual imprisoment and enforced labour. In all other
cases, good law aud justice may be dispensed without imprisonment.
Turning to your notes on the Book of Common Prayer, I come to one that corresponds with the subject with which I have opened this letter. In a note on the Epistle for St. Barbabas's Day, referring to the persecutions suffered by the early Christians, you say: “ It is observable, that the very steps wbich were taken to suppress Christianity extended the limits of its propagation.” Have you not observed, by this time, that the steps which you have taken to protect Christianity and to persecute the Anti-Christians bave also extended the limits of Anti-Christianity? The cause and the effect has been precisely the same with the persecution of Anti-Christians and Christians. The principles on the part of the persecutors the same in both cases to cherish and protect existing profitable abuses. You say, “the disciples (of Christianity) bad such convincing evidence of its truth, that nothing could deter them from preacbing it; and wben they were driven from Jerusalem, &c. they exerted tbemselves in those distant parts to wbich they were driven.” I not only doubt, but I'am positively certain, that they could bave no “ convincing evidence of its truth;" but. I grant that they who were secondary might have been deluded into a persuasion of the kind. The first preachers of Christianity must bave been imposters. No such person as Jesus Christ existed: no Christian sect existed in Jerusalem, before its destruction by the Romans under Titus; therefore, there is clear and convincing evidence, that the first preachers of Christianity were impostors. The system might have been started by one man or woman; and if so, the imp position rests with that single person.
But the disciples of Anti-Christianity have one aod all the most convincing evidence of the falsehood of Christianity. They see not only the defects of its bistory; but the whole of science, the whole of existing knowledge, scouts the supposition of such Gods, and such a scheme of theology, as Cbristianity presents. They do not follow the tales of one another; but each refers for himseif to the facts, to the arguments, and to the things wbich are placed before bim. Not so with your Christians, they had nothing but tales to rest upon, that increased in carriage, as do the oral tales of the present day. And this fully accounts for the sectarianisin and hostile feelings that grew up and increased with Cbristianity. You see no sectarianism among the Atheists. As